Visit my online shop for dried herbs, herbal tinctures, essential oils and more!



Tell a Friend about Us




Herb garden

Vegetable garden

Useful Contacts

Sitemap

Articles about Vegetable Crops for the Garden

  Advantages of Container Vegetable Gardens
  Best Vegetable Crops for Containers
  Brandywine Tomatoes - Get the Most From This Heirloom Variety
  Choosing a Site For Your Home Vegetable Garden
  Container Vegetable Gardening Tips
  Container Vegetable Gardens
  Double Your Crops
  Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables
  Grow Your Own Salad
  Growing Tomatoes in Pots
  Growing Vegetable Plants Becomes More Than Just A Hobby
  How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
  Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening Ideas
  Indoor Vegetable Gardening How to Tips
  Learning About Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening
  List of vegetable crops by difficulty
  Mushroom Growing in Odd Unused Spaces
  Non Hybrid Seeds For Survival Gardening
  Organic Container Gardening - Simple and Easy Ways to Grow Vegetables and Flowers in Pots
  Organic Vegetable Cultivation Table
  Over Wintering Chilli Pepper Plants
  pH preferences of food crops
  Planning your Container Crops
  Planting Tomatoes Upside Down
  Potato Container Garden Tips
  Preparing a Vegetable Garden
  Review: Food4Wealth by Jonathan White
  Vegetable Container Garden Tips
  Vegetable Crops in alphabetical order by name
  Why I Recommend Vegetable Container Gardening
  Why Vegetable Container Gardening is Getting More Popular Today Than Ever
  How to grow organic Asparagus
  How to grow organic Aubergines
  How to grow organic Beetroot
  How to grow organic Broad beans
  How to grow organic Broccoli
  How to grow organic Brussels sprouts
  How to grow organic Cabbage
  How to grow organic Calabrese
  How to grow organic Carrot
  How to grow organic Cauliflower
  How to grow organic Celeriac
  How to grow organic Celery
  How to grow organic Celtuce
  How to grow organic Chinese broccoli
  How to grow organic Chinese cabbage
  How to grow organic Chicory
  How to grow organic Corn
  How to grow organic Cucumbers and Gherkins
  How to grow organic Endive
  How to grow organic Florence fennel
  How to grow organic French beans
  How to grow organic Garlic
  How to grow organic Globe artichokes
  How to grow organic Jerusalem artichokes
  How to grow organic Kale and borecole
  How to grow organic Kohl rabi
  How to grow organic Komatsuna
  How to grow organic Land cress
  How to grow organic Leaf beet
  How to grow organic Leeks
  How to grow organic Lettuce
  How to grow organic Mizuna
  How to grow organic Mustard greens
  How to grow organic New Zealand spinach
  How to grow organic Onions
  How to grow organic Parsnips and Hamburg Parsley
  How to grow organic Peas
  How to grow organic Peppers (hot and sweet)
  How to grow organic Potatoes
  How to grow organic Radishes
  How to grow organic Rocket
  How to grow organic Runner beans
  How to grow organic Salad onions
  How to grow organic Salsify, Scorzonera and Scolymus
  How to grow organic Seakale
  How to grow organic Shallots
  How to grow organic Spinach
  How to grow organic Squash
  How to grow organic Swede
  How to grow organic Texsel greens
  How to grow organic Tomatoes
  How to grow organic Turnips




About us

Privacy

Disclaimer

Frann Leach

Labelled with ICRA

DISCLOSURE:

We support this site using affiliate marketing as a way to earn revenue. All the ads, and many of the links mentioning other products, services, or websites are special links that earn us a commission when you use or pay for their product/service.

Please do not use our site if this alarms you.

Organic Gardening:


How to grow organic Potatoes


by

Potatoes
You should get several pounds from each plant

Potatoes

Solanum tuberosum

Family: Solanaceae (Group 9)

Potatoes are divided into first and second earlies ('new potatoes') and maincrop. They also come in various colours, the most commonly available being white, yellow and pink or red.

Potatoes are often recommended as a good crop for 'cleaning' the ground. The reason for this is that in preparing the soil, you will eliminate much of the weeds, and many of the pests resident in the soil will attack the potatoes, so that when you harvest them, you will remove them at the same time. You often see rows of potatoes growing on established allotments, but unless you are growing one of the more expensive varieties, there seems little point in investing the amount of work involved, as they are so cheap in the shops.

Recommended cultivars

First earlies
Arran PilotWhiteHeavy cropper best in light soil
Maris BardWhiteVery early. Scan and virus resistant
Pentland JavelinWhiteHeavy cropper. Scab and eelworm resistant
Duke of YorkYellowAny soil type or area. Excellent flavour
Second earlies
Maris PiperWhiteGood flavour. Scab and blight resistant. Does not like dry soil
WiljaYellowHeavy cropper. Reliable
NadineWhiteVery resistant to eelworm. Good flavour
Maincrop
MajesticWhiteAn old variety, good for chips (fries)
King EdwardCreamWell known for its quality
DesiréePinkVery heavy cropper. Drought resistant
StemstarCreamHeavy cropper, slug resistant. Good for exhibition
Pink Fir ApplePinkA waxy, gourmet variety, but yields are low

First earlies mature in about 100-110 days, second earlies in 110-120 days, and maincrop in 125-140 days. To avoid virus disease, use only certified seed potatoes purchased annually or once-grown seed. To avoid the build-up of soil-borne pests and diseases use a minimum rotation of 3 years for earlies, 5 years for maincrop.

Site/soil

Potatoes need an open site, avoiding frost pockets, and will tolerate light shade. They grow best in deep, fertile, well drained but moisture retaining soil; pH 5-6 preferred. The heaviest yields are obtained from well cultivated soil; add plenty of manure and a general fertiliser such as Growmore 100% organic at 60gm/sq m (2oz/sq yard) the autumn before planting.

Chitting

Sprout or chit potatoes before planting by standing egg-sized tubers on end in boxes of peat or recycled egg boxes in a light, frost-free place. Start earlies in mid-January, mancrop from early February. As shoots start to develop keep a close watch for aphids.

Planting and general care

Plant in a drill 8-15cm (3-6") deep, covering each tuber with about 2.5cm (1") soil. Earlies go in around mid March 30cm by 45cm (12"x18") apart, maincrop from April to May at a spacing of 37cm by 67cm (15"x27"). Close planting of small tubers in June and July will give a late crop of new potatoes.

For traditionally planted crops, protect with soil or straw if frost is expected. Earth up by drawing up soil to near the tops of shoots when large enough, top dressing first. If soil is very dry, moisten first.

To avoid earthing up, cover with black plastic, after watering in if necessary. When haulms push up against the plastic, cut slits in the plastic and pull them through.

Container grown potatoes

The minimum recommended size of container is a 30cm (12") pot, though some people use dustbins (trash cans) or even black plastic bags - in either case, it's important to make adequate drainage holes. For a 30cm (12") pot, put 2 tubers on 10cm (4") soil and cover with a further 10cm (4") soil. When the haulm is 15cm (6") tall, add another 10cm (4") soil and continue like this until plants are within 5cm (2") of the rim. Plants will need watering in dry weather. Feed once or twice with seaweed extract.

Watering

Earlies should be watered every 10-14 days in dry weather at 3-4 gallons/sq yard. Maincrops need a single watering of 4-5 gallons/sq yard when tubers reach marble size.

Harvest

Dig earlies as required, first earlies June to July, second earlies July to August when the flowers open, or for the highest yield, when the foliage dies down.

Dig maincrop from August for immediate use. Those to be stored should be left until September or October when the haulm dies down. Cut haulms and remove to the compost heap (so long as there is no blight visible), wait 10-14 days and lift on a good drying day. Leave tubers to dry off for several hours before placing in store.

Make sure the entire crop is harvested, down to the smallest tuber, to avoid problems with 'volunteers' harbouring soil-borne pests in future years.

Pests and Diseases

Viruses affecting potatoes are many and varied. The regular use of certified seed grown in northern areas will ensure that tubers are virtually free of aphid-transmitted viruses at planting time. Several varieties of potato are resistant to one or more viruses.

Colorado beetle and larva
Colorado beetle and larva

Colorado beetles are yellow, with black stripes, the larvae are pinkie red. If found in the British Isles, you are legally bound to notify the Ministry of Agriculture immediately, who will take care of the infestation for you.

Potato cyst eelworm: Haulm dies back early, small white, yellow or brown cysts on roots, poor crops, small tubers. Do not use site for Solanaceae for at least 6 years.

Aphids must be controlled to prevent virus infections. Use Derris spray or fatty acid spray.

Potato blight is extremely common in wet years. A fortnightly spray with Bordeaux mixture may prevent or reduce the problem. If plants are still badly affected in late August, cut the haulms and burn them immediately. Harvest after 10-14 days in the usual way.

Common scab is most severe on light, sandy alkaline soil, especially after hot dry summers. Serious attacks often occur on newly cultivated grassland. Do not apply lime to scab-infested land. Apply 3 bucketsful of grass mowings per square yard and dig in to light soils where you suspect a humus deficiency. If you find you have a problem with this disease, there are several resistant varieties available.

Potato wart disease is a notifiable disease in the UK, which must by law be reported to Ministry of Agriculture officials. It may remain undetected until tubers are dug, but occasionally greeny-yellow cauliflower-like growths may occur on stem bases or other parts close to soil level. The tubers become entirely warty and knobbly or develop whitish warty outgrowths which later blacken and decay. Symptoms are more severe in wet conditions and may be so slight as to be overlooked in dry seasons, although outgrowths can arise on tubers after some time in store.



If you're interested in healthy food, you may also be interested in our sister site, The Health Site, Your Online Health Channel.


Article ©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

Top of page