The Chef was impatient, the potato seed was becoming wizened, so he planted his potatoes in the plot.
The Chef worked on the soil to warm it up. In the morning, he dug a 4″ trench when the sun was shining & covered it with fleece. By 3pm the soil had warmed up to 7 degrees.
So, he planted the seed potatoes in the bottom of the trench and covered them with a thin layer of soil. Fleece was then placed over the top of the planted potatoes to keep the warmth in.
One row of Maris Bard potato seed was planted about 12″ apart. About 15 tubers were planted altogether.
The Chef has moved the seed potatoes, from the spare bedroom, out into the garage.
The Maris Bard seed potatoes have been on a tray in the spare bedroom since the beginning of February. The room is very light and the potatoes are chitting.
seed potato chitting
But the chits will grow too long if left in the house and the garage is cooler. The seed potatoes are near the garage window where they will get plenty of light. The aim is to develop short, plump, strong chits that will help the potato get off to a quick start when they are planted in the ground.
The lower temperature in the garage will harden the seed potatoes off in preparation for planting.
The ground for the potatoes was covered with fleece the other day when the sun was out. The sun had warmed the ground and the fleece will keep the frost out. The Chef plans to plant the potatoes as soon as conditions allow. That is when the cold weather has passed and spring seems to be on the way. This should be in about two weeks.
The seed potatoes have been moved from the bedroom out into the garage, before reaching their planting spot in the newly dug up lawn!
The frosty weather is causing the Chef to delay planting potatoes in his plot.
They are much safer chitting on the window sill. If they get frosted their performance will be severely affected. So protect them from the frost and delay potato planting!
Gill has contacted TopVeg about yellow leaves on her friend’s potatoes:
Dear Mike Topveg man,
My friend has some potatoes in a pot that are going yellow and look unhappy and she’s not sure why…can you help?
Yellow leaves on potatoes
Here is a closer up picture. They are in pots and it seems to be the leaves nearest the sides which are yellow.
TopVeg replied: Yellow leaves could result from several problems.
- Water-logging causes yellow leaves – Do the pots have drainage holes in the bottom? The pots must be able to drain.
- Poor nutrition also leads to yellow leaves. Is the soil in the pots good quality? Has any fertiliser been given to the plants? There is a lot of foliage in the photos and that will need feeding.
We have received this update from Gill:
I have asked my friend and she said that the pots don’t have drainage holes as she didn’t realise this was necessary. She also hasn’t fed them anything.
Should she move them into a dryer location? Would normal plant food work or is there a special feed for potatoes?
Water will be the over-riding problem in this case. We have had a lot of rain, which will have filled the pots & it will not be able to drain out if there are no holes.
- If you are able to tip the pots onto their sides without damaging the plants, some of the surplus water could drain out.
- A drier location would help but the pots will be very heavy. Perhaps you could put some polythene ( like a black bin liner) under the foiliage but over the soil, to keep any future rain out of the pot.
- I would not bother feeding them unless you plan to keep them growing a long time.
- It would be better to harvest them as soon as they are the size of an egg – as they will be very vulnerable to potato blight. This is a fungal disease which strikes in damp, humid conditions.
Hope this helps & that you enjoy your home-grown potatoes!!
The Jelly potato variety is another example of a new variety which is exclusive & not available to the small home grower in the UK. Jelly potatoes are exclusive to Greenvale who will be selling them to Tesco as their Farm Fresh Brand.
The Jelly Potatoes are:
- buttery in flavour
- creamy in texture
- high yielding
- short oval tubers
- smooth shinny yellow skin
- yellow fleshed
- bred in Germany
- medium early potatoes
- resistant to most diseases
Jelly is an interesting new potato variety which is not yet available for the home vegetable gardener.
Janette is searching for the ultimate potato variety!
In her mind, the ultimate potato is:
- with a fine skin – not thick and grainy
- good in salads, sauteed, and boiled
If anyone has any suggestions for a potato variety which fits the bill please contact us & we will let Janette know.
Do you agree with her wish list? What is your idea of the ultimate potato…..
Exquisa is a new variety of potato. The supermarkets try hard to keep exclusivity of the latest entrants on the market and the seed is kept under wraps.
Janette has asked TopVeg if we know of any suppliers of Exquisa potato seed. I have spent ages looking for a supplier without success.
The Exquisa variety was bred in Holland in 1997- and seems to be easier to find there!
- yellow flesh
- smooth skin
- oval shape
- small to medium size
- very high yielding
- fairly firm texture on cooking
- multi-purpose or salad type
If anyone knows where to find some Exquisa potato seed please do contact us!
This example of how not to grow potatoes has proved rather successful. We tried it last year and it worked then, too.
Instead of lifting potatoes before the first frost and storing them in nice Hessian bags, we have left them in the ground.
We have covered them over with a blue plastic sheet to keep some frost off – and the snow, hopefully, has provided some insulation.
We lifted some Kestrel today, after pulling the sheet back.
We dug 2.5kg of Kestrel potatoes (the gardener said it was just from one side of the root!)
The skins do look a bit scabby, but the skin scraped off easily and left a clean potato.
They do taste good! Kestrel are a second early. Click this link to buy some Kestrel seed potatoes.
But there is a risk to this strategy. If the frost gets down into the potatoes they will go soft and to mulch when they thaw out, rendering them useless. But we had a good 5C degrees of frost last night and the soil was still quite warm. Last year after a prolonged period of very cold weather we did loose one or two. So this exercise is definitely an example of how not to grow potatoes!
Potato seed is chitting.
Chitting is the controlled production of sprouts on seed potatoes before planting.
But the controlled production of sprouts is the key. The length & strength of the sprout must be controlled to give a short (1.5-2.5cm (0.5-1in) long), stubby, green chit.
The 3 factors involved in chitting are:
- temperature – 4 degrees Celsius is ideal, but the temperature should not go above 10 degrees, neither should it reach freezing.
- ventilation – plenty of fresh air
- light – plenty of light – but not bright sunlight – a north facing window is best
Early and late-main crop potatoes could especially benefit from the chitting , but it must be done properly.