With the first frost predicted this week, I have harvested the last of the potatoes. They are amazing plants and provide a wonderful staple for the kitchen for a long time. I thought it might be useful to record the time line of growing them:
Preparing the soil: February. Potatoes are the only plants that require preparation of the soil by digging (for the rest of the garden I am a no-dig/no-till convert!) The soil is still rocky, and potatoes require deep and light soil, so there is no option but to dig trenches, removing rocks and stones as I go. Once that is completed, I recover the area with black plastic which stops the weeds from growing, and also warms the soil. The stones that I dig up are being used to create the dry stone wall. Chitting: Seed potatoes indoors since end of March (this photo 23rd April) Placed in a light, cool place, they start to develop shoots (chits) which speeds up their growth in preparation for planting
Planting: 4th April . This photo taken 23rd April and earlier varieties (Celtiane and Victoria) are already sprouting vigourously.
Mounding/ Earthing up: As the potatoes grow it is necessary to mound the soil up against the plant. This covers and protects the tubers and ensures a good harvest. I mounded three times this year, stopping early June when the plants are too lush to get in between to do any further work.
Harvesting Earlies; By mid-July the early potatoes are ready for harvest. There is nothing better than freshly dug, boiled new potatoes. In this photo Celtiane potatoes drying in the sun 18th July
Harvesting Victorias. Mid to end August we harvested the Victorias. It’s such fun to pull up a plant and discover all the potatoes!
Once dug, they need to be left for a few hours in the sun to dry before storing in a dark place. If they are left in the sun too long they turn green and are not edible.
Final harvest: As an experiment I left some of the late potatoes, Sarpo, in as late as possible. They are a blight resistant variety and are still looking good in late October (on the left of this photo) Our last harvest was 29th October.
Storing: I lay the potatoes in trays on an old hay-barrow in the barn. Covered with hessian sacks (mainly because the barn is full of bats!) they will last until about June next year. I do have to remove any sprouts a couple of times in that period.