How to plant and grow a potato
18.01.2024 - 21:37
/ Frederick Leeth
The principal requirements of the potato plant are adequate available food, sufficient water, good drainage and the type of soil in which tubers may swell easily. An open, unshaded site is very necessary. Light soils are considered very suitable, provided they have been dressed with large quantities of moisture-retaining organic matter. A heavy soil may also be improved structurally by the addition of organic material. A reasonably light, easily worked loam is probably the ideal. Where farmyard manure is available, it may be dug in during winter digging at the rate of up to 50kg (1cwt) to 6 sq m (6 sq yd). Garden compost may be applied even more generously during winter digging or as a mulch after planting. If a compound potato fertilizer is raked into the soil before planting, use it at the rates advised by the manufacturer.
Potato plants are raised from seed tubers taken from plants which are free of virus-carrying aphids. The potato fields are visited by Ministry of Agriculture officials who issue certificates regarding the freedom from disease of the plants. Tubers from these plants are known as `Certified Seed’. It is unwise to plant any but certified seed tubers. They should be purchased in January or February and sprouted in trays housed in a light but frost-proof room (a process known as `chitting’). It is believed that sprouted potatoes result in earlier crops. The gardener may also see which tubers have not sprouted and these are not planted.
Each potato has two or three short, sturdy sprouts at planting time- in late March or April. The actual planting date depends on the condition of the soil and on the weather.
There are many planting methods. Perhaps the simplest is to make 20cm (8in) deep trenches with the
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