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Plant Your Own Potatoes This Year

The potato, (Word comes from the Spanish, Patata, the former having introduced the potato into Europe in the second half of the 16th century, following their conquest of the Inca Empire in Peru.) to the Irish people, still remains today the most useful of all foods.

The Chip we eat here in Ireland often come from England, as the potato variety “Maris Piper,” from the British Somerset region, makes a great chip. Chippers here are inclined to import them instead of using home-grown Irish spuds. The Irish potato is perfect for mashing, roasting or baking, but not so tasty when deep-fat fried.

During the so called Celtic Tiger years we all lost interest in growing at least some of our own vegetables. Now with more time on our hands, through unemployment etc, maybe it is time to turn that small piece of garden into something more productive. So now is the perfect time to grab your spade, fork and rake and sow a few potatoes, even if only for the exercise.

Potatoes need to be planted on a sunny site, in fertile and slightly acidic soil.  Loosen up your soil first with a spade, then with the soil broken using a garden fork, break up the clumps of soil, removing stones and any weeds such as scutch grass, thistles or docks.  Whether or not you have poor quality soil you will need to add organic matter. Traditionally, farm yard manure was used for potatoes, but good garden compost can also do the job.

Lay a piece of string or timber plank on the soil as a guide, so that the potatoes are planted in straight lines. Position your seed potatoes on top of your manure, in a trench at a depth of approximately 6 inches, about 12 to 16 inches apart, along this guide line.  Ensure that the end of the potato with the most eyes (Chits) is pointing upwards. If you are planting more than one row, each row should be positioned at least 20 inches apart.

It is important, that as you sow, not to allow a heavy force of clay onto the eyes or chits as they will be quite tender and if they receive a sudden thump of clay, they will break off leaving you waiting longer for them to appear above ground. So gently sweep the soil over the tubers, ensuring that they are completely covered.

Watch them and as the shoots emerge through the soil, they should be re-covered with soil so that only the bare tip is exposed. This will encourage more potatoes tubers to develop beneath the surface. Also keep the soil slightly moist throughout their growing period.

Your potatoes should be ready for harvesting in early to late Summer; depending on the variety of potato you have chosen.

Good quality seed potatoes are currently on sale at Thurles Centenary Co-Op presently.

Note: A basic bag of seed potatoes is about 3-5kgs and contains about 40 potatoes.  This should yield a crop of about 20kgs of spuds.
One final tip: – Fresh compost will promote development of scab organisms on the skin of your potato, which is little more than a visual annoyance, so do try to locate well decayed manure.

So what if you have no garden, due to it being cemented or tarmaced over? Potatoes can also be sown successfully in containers such as plastic bags or in stacked tyres packed with clay and peat.

Your crop can be dug up 2-5 weeks after flowering when the tubers should have reached a useable size.

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3 comments to Plant Your Own Potatoes This Year

  • Michael

    U can’t beat a good feed of Spuds,Bacon and Cabbage.

  • Katie O.Connell. Knott

    Michael!! love the Spuds and Cabbage but ‘BACON’ the enemy to high Blood preasure! The bacon in Australia is shocking just like thin paper and oh so tough. At least the Irish bacon one can eat.

  • Michael

    Katie, the bacon of years ago when I was young was different bacon to today’s bacon. ‘Twas hanging in the chimney for about a month and was well smoked before eating. If you put a Crubeen and a half Pig’s Head on the table today , the youth would think you came from outer space.

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