If you haven’t bought seed potatoes yet and do intend growing a few this year, the choice might be restricted by now.
It’s worth remembering that you don’t need a vegetable plot to enjoy tasting your own crop. A large pot, tailor-made growing bag or even a big plastic one that previously held compost will do.
Fill one third with compost, push a maximum of five potatoes into soil or compost and top up as the shoots develop. Keep them well watered throughout.
I grow a pot or two in the cold greenhouse as an early taster while waiting for those outside to mature.
Friend Jim is a master at growing potatoes in 17-litre black polybags for show. These can be sourced from LBS Horticultural Suppliers, to be found online at www.lbsbuyersguide.co.uk
Once growth is under way, they’re put in the garden, which, I guess, gives the roots a freer run and guards against drying out.
He’s always been generous in explaining his flower and vegetable growing-for-show methods and would no doubt relish the competition at Glendale Show at Wooler if you adopted the following technique, which is similar to his:
Each bag has a spot of cow manure and handful of Growmore at the base. Fill to one third with compost containing a quarter pound of Vitax Q4 and a quarter pound of calcified seaweed and push three potatoes into the surface.
Fill the bag with compost and plunge it into a trench lined with cow manure. Cut all foliage down two weeks before the show.
Once the early potatoes are planted, broad beans and peas will follow, and they can remain uncovered because they’re capable of standing up to the weather.
Early planting or sowing of lettuce and radish is also feasible if they are protected by plastic tunnels pegged down to hold firm in the wind.
If these modest objectives can be met over next weekend, we’ll consider it a reasonable start to the season.
The potatoes that emerge from polybags are much cleaner than those grown in the garden. Potatoes weighing around 8oz impress agricultural and horticultural show judges if they’re uniform and clean.
Harmony and Maxine are noted as round types, but they sometimes produce kidney-shaped tubers.
If you’re after home use only and have a Marshall’s growing bag, use five potatoes of your choice for best cropping potential.