Long before you get to the planting stage you've got done decisions to make! First of all you need to think about when you would like to feast on your tatties. Potatoes fall into three groups:
• new potaotes (sometimes called earlies)
• second earlies
• main crops
Their names indicate when they will be ready to harvest and how long they need to be in the ground.
I tend to buy some new potatoes and then quite a lot of main crop potatoes as these last well and are quite versatile. I get bored of new potatoes quickly as I find I can only do a limited amount of things with them, perhaps I'm just not very imaginative!
Once you've decided which type of potatoes you fancy you need to get yourself to a garden centre (or in my case a local branch of Wilkinson's) and buy yourself some seed potatoes.
Seed potato is a slightly contradictory term, because what you're buying are actually tubers and not seeds. Seed potatoes are potato tubers that have been specially grown in areas that are not affected by garden pests, so they should produce you a lovely big crop of spuds when the time comes. Generally speaking they look like small wizened new potatoes, they don't look terribly appetising and it would be hard to confuse them with a potato that you eat.
Once you've decided when you would like your spuds to crop, you then need to select a variety of potato. If you have a favourite type when you do your shopping, by all means seek it out to grown your own. I tend to choose a different type of potato every year, just for a change. Some I have found work better than others, but that can be because of soil, or the type of summer we're having, rather than just a dodgy type. This year I chose:
I bought three bags of the Roosters and just one bag of new. You need to think about where you're going to grow your spuds and how much space you have, there is no point buying six bags of maincrop potatoes (which are around the longest) if you only have a single bin to grow them in. Make sure that you keep your packaging as it will contain some important information about when to plant out the variety that you've chosen, how deep to plant them, and how far apart.
If you choose more than one variety of potato, make sure you keep them separate and label them so you know which are which. Nobody wants a potato commune!
Once done that you need to get chitting! That's right, you heard me, chitting! Chit like you've never, erm, chat, before!
Chitting means encouraging growth. To chit our spuds we take our seed potatoes out of their bags, put them in a suitable tray (egg boxes are excellent, but I didn't have enough) and into the sunshine to sprout.
Each seed potato has a rose end where the majority of the eyes are. The other end of the potato is smoother with no eyes. The, erm, blind end? That's not a technical term. Don't say it in a garden centre. Like the time I say muddy stuff when I meant compost and got LOOKS.
|Rose end at the top...|
|Note funny little elf decoration I made a while ago guarding the spuds.....|
Place them in a bright, cool and frost free spot and let them do their thing....we want them to grow slightly revolting looking dark sprouting tubers. We chit to encourage growth, so we're giving our tatties a head start before we plant them. You can see from my spuds above that some of them have already begun to sprout - huzzah!
Once they've sprouted quite considerable tubers, somewhere around mid March it'll be time to plant them out which is phase two.....phase three is SPUD HEAVEN!
You're on the edge of your seats right?