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Potatoes

Good Potatoes starts with the preparation of the soil in the autumn and winter digging and forking, over an area that has not grown potatoes for the last two seasons.

In January buy your chosen variety of seed and set up to chit in an area with natural light (not direct sun) and frost free

In March/April when the weather allows work the land to make it as light and fluffy as conditions will allow.

As the soil begins to warm, dig a straight shallow "V" trench, then fill it with well rotted manure/ compost/grass mowings.

With a dibber make holes at the appropriate spacing large enough to take the potato seed some 6-8ins deep.

Scatter a few slug pellets on top of the compost (keeps them away from birds etc and reduces the slug popn early in the season)

Carefully drop each seed potato into a hole without braking off the chits.

Now back fill over the compost to form a small ridge.  As the potato foliage breaks through bank up the ridge in stages.

Banking up reduces the possibility of weeds and greening of potatoes (poisonous). You may need to apply water in a dry May.

Immediately after flowers have started to die back try lifting some new potatoes for that taste you cannot buy.

For storing -  Remove the top foliage as it naturally dies back or when any blight branches are seen.  In a dry period carefully lift potatoes and leave on top of the soil to dry off to harden the skins for a day or two.  Apply more drying and sort carefully to remove any damaged/diseased potatoes. Take particular attention to look for slug damage and blight which you should be able to smell (see pic). Bag into woven hessian sacks so that air circulates.  Store in a light free, frost free but cool place. Check their condition every few weeks.

The photos may help explain.