David Domoney gives advice on weeding the garden
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What dinner would be complete without this versatile carb? To grow this weighty tuber packed with fibre, follow this simple guide to enable you to boil, bake, mash and fry your own homegrown potatoes. But it is important that your pick the right time to plant.
Potatoes are a cool-weather crop, they grow best when planted as soil temperatures reach 7C.
In the UK this means that you should plant them in the spring after the last frost so around March to May, this will vary on the variety of potato you choose to grow.
Early potatoes can be ready to harvest as early as June, whilst others may still be growing until October.
It is worth doing your research to find a variety that suits your desired growing timeline.
Potatoes are grown from ‘seed’ potatoes. These are similar to the potatoes that you buy from normal food shop, but they’re guaranteed to be virus-free.
Allow your seed potatoes to sprout indoors before planting.
To allow this to happen stand your seed potatoes up in egg boxes or trays, with the end with the most eyes or small dents pointing towards the ceiling.
When the shoots from the potatoes are about an inch long they are ready to plant outside.
Remove the weaker shoots so that only four per potato remain.
Choose a sunny spot and dig straight rows in the soil just deep enough to be able to hold the potatoes.
Plant the seed potatoes into these rows 12 inches apart with their shoots facing up, fill in the holes with soil so that the potatoes are covered with their shoots above the ground.
Be sure to water your potatoes regularly – the soil should be moist but not too saturated.
Whilst your potatoes grow they need ‘earthing up’, build up extra soil around the base of the potatoes as they grow to protect vulnerable young plants from frost and too much direct sunlight.
When the plant grows to be around six inches tall add more soil around its base, repeat this every time the plant grows another six inches.
Stop watering your potatoes when their foliage starts to turn yellow and die, this shows that they will soon be ready to harvest.
When your potatoes are ready to harvest will depend on the variety that you have chosen to grow.
Earlies will not be ready until the flowers of the plant open or their buds drop. The potatoes are ready to harvest when they’re the size of a hen’s egg.
You will have to wait until the foliage of maincrop potatoes turns yellow.
Remove this and wait 10 days before harvesting the potatoes.
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