Well what a glorious past couple of days it’s been down here in Hampshire! It was such a nice feeling waking up on Thursday to the sun shining through the window and it most definitely changed my mood. Both me and my Dad decided to have Friday afternoon off from work so we could head up the allotment and enjoy the sunshine before more rain was forecast. So after wrapping orders in the morning we headed up to our plots and I was beyond excited!
Today was the day that my potatoes were finally going to be planted! Ideally I would have liked to have done this a couple of weeks ago but the weather has just been so awful that I am glad I held off. Plus the bed was cleared of rubbish and dug over last weekend so everything was ready. For me potato planting day is a huge event in the gardeners calendar, they are such an important crop and one of the must have harvests simply for the taste alone. You just can’t beat homegrown potatoes served up with lashings of butter and sprigs of mint on a hot Summers day, my mouth is watering just thinking about it now!
Since the middle of February my potatoes have been chitting happily away on top of the fridge in the kitchen with ample window light. It’s something you don’t have to do but I have always done it, chitting gives your potatoes a nice head start and produces these beautiful stumpy, purple shoots ready for planting out. Plus I always think if I didn’t chit then those same potatoes would just be sitting in the shop inside dark bags growing long, white shoots instead which is what you don’t want.
My potato bed fits 4 rows at 3 metres deep, which means the crop isn’t huge but it’s completely worth it. I grow a salad variety called ‘International Kidney’ (otherwise known as Jersey Royals) and have done ever since I first got my allotment nearly 5 years ago. Salad varieties can obviously be planted earlier then main crop and now is the perfect time to do just that.
I dig trenches using a rather handy tool called a Chillington hoe, it makes light work of digging and doesn’t take long to make a trench. Each trench is roughly 6 inches deep and 2 foot apart. I then lay a thin layer of well rotted manure along the bottom of each trench, make sure not to use fresh manure as it will burn the potatoes. Place each seed potato with the chit or shoot pointing upwards and space them 12 inches apart. Salad potatoes can be planted closer together because you want nice, small potatoes. So if you are planting maincrop I would space them 15 inches apart. Fill the trench back up with soil and rake the surface nice and even, once the shoots start to emerge earth them up to protect them against frost. I like to earth mine up 2 or three times throughout the season to multiply my harvest.
And that’s that… the potatoes are in for the year and I can’t tell you how happy this makes me! 2 weeks ago this bed was covered with rubbish and weeds and my motivation was waning, now there’s 36 little potatoes tucked up and ready to grow. The allotment is slowly coming to life plus it was warm enough to take my coat AND cardigan off… Life doesn’t get much better than that surely?
I hope you all have a lovely weekend and find some time to get outside and be happy x