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The spuds are in!

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Latest post from MARKSVEGPLOT – a blog about food and gardening in England”

Well, not ALL the spuds. Just the first ones. A significant milestone, nevertheless.

This year, as usual, I’m growing my potatoes in containers – big 35-litre plastic pots, like these:

I find these pots perfect for growing potatoes in. Being quite big they don’t dry out too rapidly, but at the same time they are not so huge that I can’t shift them around when needed – and you can see that they have handles to make moving them easier. I got them from a company called LBS Horticultural Supplies Ltd.

On this occasion I was planting-up my First Early potatoes, the ones that mature quickly and are harvested as small “new potatoes”. I have two tubers each of five varieties: “Pentland Javelin”, “Rocket”, “Lady Christl”, “Colleen” and “Sherine”.

The growing-medium I’m using consists of a mix of garden soil, homemade compost and composted stable manure, enhanced with a handful of proprietary potato fertiliser in each pot. When potatoes are grown in pots (which are prone to drying-out if not regularly watered) it is important to incorporate a good proportion of organic matter because the new tubers are likely to develop Scab if their soil is too dry.

I fill the pots only about half-full at first, use a trowel to make suitable holes, then plant the potatoes two to a pot, after which I cover them to a depth of only about 3 inches. Once the plants begin to grow and the shoots emerge I will progressively top up the pots with more of the growing-medium until they are nearly full.

I plant the two seed-tubers fairly close to one another, in the centre of the pot. [Of course the tubers were covered-over after this photo!]

The final part of the process is to cover the pots with my little plastic greenhouses, which will protect them from frost and wind. You’ll notice that I have weighted them down with bricks (one at each corner) to stop them blowing away.

Each of those greenhouses covers four pots, though on this occasion I only planted a total of 5 pots-worth (i.e. 10 tubers).

I’ll use exactly the same procedure in a couple of weeks’ time when I plant the Second Earlies.

To read more articles like this, on Gardening and Gastronomy, please visit * *

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