Posted in 'How to', Allotment, Potaotoes, Simple but briiiant, tagged Charles Dowding, Charlotte potatoes, Community gardening, growing potatoes staright on top of grass, Islington gardening blog, London Gardening blog, no dig potatoes, Second early potatoes, seed potatoes on June 6, 2012|
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A neighbour had some spare chitted ‘Charlotte’ seed potatoes when I got back from my Easter holiday, and inspired by Charles Dowding growing potatoes straight onto grass, I decided to give this a go. Now I do remember Charles Dowding saying that he weakened the grass first by covering it with cardboard for a few weeks (or was it months?) before starting, but the potatoes were ready to grow, so I thought I’d just give it a go. I simply put some compost on top a spare bit of grass, nestled the seed potatoes into the compost and then covered them with about another 6 inches worth.
About 7 weeks later, my spuds are coming on really well and neighbour Henry helped me to earth the trio up, carefully covering most of the new foliage with extra compost.
This extra compost will prevent the tubers from going green by stopping them coming into contact with daylight, and will hopefully give me a better yield of potatoes too, especially as they’re only growing in the soil above grass level. I shouldn’t be surprised at how well the potatoes are growing though, as the roots should be able to grow down through the grass, but I am delighted to be able to grow potatoes without the back-breaking digging that I normally employ and can’t wait to see the results of my (minimal) labours in the next month or so.
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Now is the time to order your seed potatoes or better still, to see if there is a ‘potato day’ near you where you can get to talk to the suppliers and buy varieties that you didn’t know even existed. Potatoes are listed as 1st earlies (ready in June and always very expensive to buy), 2nd earlies, maincrop and late varieties so you can dig up a fresh crop all summer long and even into autumn. At fairs you can buy tubers in small quantities-especially useful when you only have a small space or growbag to plant them in and you get to see some amazing heritage and heirloom varieties. These following websites will take you to lists of potato days that are being held all over the country in the next 2 months;
http://www.potato-days.net/ and http://www.potatoday.org/potatodays.htm
A variety of heritage potatoes
- I’ve spotted a potato day in London on February 27th that I’m going to try and get to. It’s at the Garden Museum in London and it promises 100 plus varieties of potatoes for sale by the single tuber, onion sets, shallots, garlic, Heritage Seeds, fruit trees, rhubarb crowns and much more. Sounds like my kind of fun!
If you can’ get to a potato fair, then there are plenty of online suppliers to order from too. I ordered some Pink Fir Apple seed potatoes (a ‘late season’ variety who’s delicious nutty flavoured potatoes will be ready to eat in September/October) and they were with me in a matter of days. Impressive! All I need to do now is to chit them. What does ‘chitting’ mean? Chitting just means encouraging potatoes to sprout before they are put into the ground, especially useful to get early varieties off to a flying start.
Place potatoes with the end with most ‘eyes’ upwards in egg boxes or trays. Make sure they are placed in a frost free, cool, light position such as a garage or shed with windows or an unheated spare room. If there is not enough light, the shoots will become pale and elongated, which will weaken the potato and be more likely to snap off when planting.
So keep an eye on them, as short sturdy sprout are the ideal. Potatoes should take about 6 weeks to chit and early varieties can be planted out mid-late March and April, depending on where you live in the country.
There are plenty of specialist suppliers online, such as Carrolls Heritage Potatoes
and all the major seed suppliers such as Suttons, Marshalls, Mr. Fothergill’s, Thomson and Morgan and Dobies offer a range of potatoes too.
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