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Grow your own potatoes

by CountryLife Gardening | May 05, 2015

Grow your own potaotesPotatoes are the most popular vegetables in Ireland - potatoes are very easy to plant and need little attention to strive. Potatoes are divided into three groups, determined by their time of harvest:

  • First Earlies: These can be sown in mid-March to mid-April and will  mature fast allowing you to sow a second crop later in July
  • Second Earlies: These are slower to mature taking 16-17 weeks until harvest. They are usually harvested between July and September. 
  • Maincrop: The largest crop and longest in the ground, the mains are sown in mid-April onwards and can be harvested late into autumn. 

Planting

  • Start planting between March and April
  • Choose an area in full open sunshine, with good air movement but not too windy or exposed either. 
  • Dig a narrow trench 5” deep and add compost, farmyard manure or well-rotted grass clippings
  • Place seed potatoes a foot apart and cover with soil
  • When you see the first shoots, keep covering them with an inch of soil from between the rows to protect them from frost and to encourage the potatoes to grow underground. Repeat this step a few times until the ridge is about 10” high
  • When watering make sure to water only early in the morning and not when the sun is at its hottest during the day
  • You can harvest your early potatoes when the flowers have faded to brown and the foliage is still green, later crops are best to be dug out when their leaves are yellow and brown
Planting potatoes


Pests & Diseases

The most common potato disease is ”Potato blight”. It’s an airborne fungus that can attack the whole plant usually during summer. The first signs of blight are brown spots on leaf tops of the potato plant, sometimes accompanied by white fluffy fungal growth. Don’t worry you can avoid it if you follow our tips:

  • The easiest thing to do is to plant blight resistant potatoes such as Sarpo Mira
  • Keep earthing up potatoes as they grow, this will protect potato tubers from spores and ensure that the beds are kept clear of weeds
  • Check your potato leaves daily in humid weather
  • Keep an eye on the “blight warnings” issued by the media
  • If you notice that blight has gotten the upper hand and all the leaves are turning black then cut the stems off at ground level leaving the tubers in the ground for at least 10 days, then dig you potatoes 

Blight resistant tip - the best method of prevention is to spray your potatoes with Bordeaux Mixture (Organic remedy) every two weeks when the foliage is unfurled. It is best to do it before the risk of blight usually sometime in mid-May.

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Jean's Bio
Hi my name is Jean, I am a horticulturist with CountryLife in the Ashford branch. I grew up on a farm where we always had a veg garden, so you could say that horticulture and agriculture is in the blood! I studied Landscape Horticulture in UCD and worked part-time in Fernhill Garden Centre, Athlone while I was in college. After graduating I worked in Landscape Architecture for three years before returning to the Garden Centre trade. I began in Keane’s Garden Centre, Kilcolgan, Co Galway and returned to Fernhill Garden Centre for three years before joining CountryLife.  Being a horticulturalist is a great job, you are surrounded by nature every day and there is always something to be done. Meeting customers and giving the advice is very rewarding especially when they report back positive results. I love growing my own fruit and veg and I’m always trying new varieties and ways of growing. The seasons are always changing and while the weather is challenging in Ireland, I believe we grow the best produce in the world.