The potato started being grown in London by 1597, and soon became popular in Ireland and Scotland. Popularity for the potato came during the Industrial Revolution, when demand was created for cheap, energy-rich, non-cereal foods. Potatoes went on to become the basis for many peoples’ essential nutrition around the world. In 1845 a fungus destroyed the potato crop in Ireland .
Now is the time to be planting potatoes .. There are so many varieties now it is difficult to choose which to plant . They usually are planted in three stages .Earlies, middle earlies and main crop although it is getting more popular to grow a later crop to be dug up and eaten around about Christmas .
This year we are only planting main crop which are William Bartlett which are reds and King Edwards an old favourite baking potato . We also plant Pink fir apple which are my favourites as they are a knobbly salad potato but late cropping .
How to plant
Dig a trench to a depth of about 10cm (4″) and place the seed potatoes into the trench with the rose end facing upwards about 30″ apart . Fill the trench with soil to cover the potatoes. is important to ‘earth up’ potato crops as the shoots emerge above ground, to protect them from frosts which blacken the shoots and delay production. Simply draw some soil over the top of the shoots to cover them again.
- Maincrop varieties are usually left for at least two weeks after the leaves and stems have withered, to allow the skins to set.
- Cut down the stems with secateurs to just above soil level as the leaves wither and yellow, or if they show signs of blight.
- After harvesting, leave the tubers on the soil surface for a few hours to dry and cure the skin. Once dry store them in paper or hessian sacks in a dark, cool but frost free place.
- We hang them on butcher hooks from the garage roof and they store well most of the year . Check after a month or so to make sure there are none rotting as one can infect the rest .
Growing Potatoes in a bag or container
Nothing beats that freshly dug, earthy taste of your own home grown potatoes!
If you’re lucky enough to have space on your vegetable plot you can grow your potatoes in the ground but if you only have limited space then you can grow them in potato bags ,tubs or containers as long as there is enough water holes .They can then be grown on a balcony ,in a greenhouse or on a patio.
- Fill your container with about 30cm soil or compost .
- Put two potatoes in and back up with 15cm soil . Then add another two potatoes and another 15cm soil.
- Water well and leave for about 3 weeks till the shoots are about 15cm high .
- Fill with more soil covering the shoots.
- Do this every couple of weeks until top of the container.
- Leave them to flower and when the flowers have died down the end of May beginning of June they should be ready to harvest .