Easter means potato planting time

Easter is supposedly the traditional time for planting potatoes – though how that works when the date of Easter is so variable, I have no idea!

seed potato

Red Duke of York and Swift, thoroughly chitted

My seed potatoes have been chitting on the windowsills for what seems like months, so just as it seemed they were about to walk out of the door under their own steam, I have been able to enjoy a sunny bank holiday in the garden and get them all planted up.

In previous years I have bought proper seed potato stock – but I have often found myself with more spuds that I know what to do with.  My space & large pot supply is limited, so there are only so many I can plant.  This year, I still had some of last year’s crop left – Red Duke of Yorks, Swift and Charlotte.  So I have taken a chance and used the healthiest of these for this year’s planting seed.    I know this has the risk of disease, but they did so well and have kept nicely, so I fancy my chances.

I have tried planting potatoes several ways here in Inverness – in the raised beds, in large pots and in old compost bags.  Pots and compost bags have had by far the best results, and bags also have the advantage of being space efficient, mobile and easy to feel when the potatoes are ready.  So this year I planted up the seed entirely in compost bags, which I saved over the previous year.

potatoes in compost bags

Potatoes work very well in these old compost bags

I turn them inside out so that the black faces out and absorbs heat and just add a few drainage holes.  I stand them on the slope beneath the wall, otherwise a difficult spit.  What is great about using compost bags is that you can just roll them right down when you first plant, then as the green growth starts to show, you simply add more compost to bury the shoots, rolling up the bag a little higher and higher as you go in order to make space for that extra compost.

This is probably not the recommended approach, but I find I don’t need to fill the bag with expensive shop bought compost.  I  use my home made compost as the base to sit the seed potatoes on, I cover them with multipurpose compost, then I alternate between home made & multipurpose compost as I go along.  Then it is just a case of keeping them moist and trying to figure out when the crop is ready (both easy as can be when using bags).

I tend to grow earlies and I don’t tend to leave them to get huge, so blight isn’t usually an issue.  Fingers crossed for another bumper crop!

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