Go Organic: Get your seed potatoes nowBy James Ashford
January 09, 2009
The shortest day is behind us thank goodness and we can start looking forward to the year ahead.
One of the things you should be doing now is buying your seed potatoes. If you have never grown your own spuds then you have really missed a treat.
They are one of the easiest vegetables there is to grow and few things taste quite as special as your own potatoes fresh from the soil.
They start life as seed potatoes, which are really just little tubers saved from last year’s crop.
You can save your own but it is usually safer to buy them from a certified disease free supplier.
In the past your only option was to buy seed potatoes in quite large bags, which was rather wasteful if you only wanted a few but now most good garden centres sell them as individual tubers in a kind of pick and mix arrangement.
It also means you’re able to grow more than one variety to make life a little bit more interesting.
If you are a real enthusiast you can even go to special potato days at places like Ryton Organic gardens in Coventry where they have up to 100 different varieties available to buy. This year it’s on Sunday, January 25, which is also Burns Day.
Potatoes are usually classified by when they are ready to harvest and so you have the choice of growing early (or new) potatoes, second earlies, main crop and, the odd one out, salad.
Potatoes practically grow themselves but you can help them on their way.
Unpack the tubers and spread them out in a light frost-free place.
The light starts their development and they will sprout tiny shoots in a process known as chitting. This helps them grow away more quickly when they go out into the ground.
Potatoes are traditionally planted out on Good Friday so that the Devil can’t blight them but any time in spring will do.
They are an ideal crop for new gardens because growing them actually helps break up the soil and makes it easier to work the following season.
For details of the Ryton potato day, call 024 7630 3517 or visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk.