Yes it’s March already! As many of you will know this month is named after Mars. the Roman God of War but did you know why? Well March was considered to be the first month of spring when the Roman armies could carry on their military campaigns across Europe, without having to contend with harsh winters and therefore named it after war!
Hopefully March in our time is a little more peaceful and it’s only the gardening we have to war with! March can be an unforgiving month, but it’s best to knuckle down before the growing season begins, after all you reap what you sow (pun intended!).
If you’re struggling to decide what to plant this year, how about the humble potato? What could be more satisfying than the fresh flavour of newly dug potatoes lifted straight from your own vegetable plot? And it’s easier than you think!
Make sure you buy pre-chitted potatoes (if you haven’t already chitted them!), this simply means that they have been left out in a warm and light area to encourage sprouting. The potatoes will be ready to plant out when the shoots are around 1.5-2.5cm in length.
It’s best to plant your chitted potatoes when the soil has started to warm up, usually from mid-March onwards. Simply dig a trench 7.5-13cm deep and add a light sprinkling of fertiliser.
You should be able to harvest around four crops of potatoes using the following planting method.
|Crop type||time||Planting distance||Distance between rows||Approximate harvest time|
|First early potatoes||From mid March||30cm (12″) apart||60cm (24″) apart||10 weeks from planting|
|Second early potatoes||From mid March||37cm (15″) apart||75cm (30″) apart||13 weeks from planting|
|Early maincrop potatoes||From late March||45cm (18″) apart||75cm (30″) apart||15 weeks from planting|
|Maincrop potatoes||From late March||45cm (18″) apart||75cm (30″) apart||20 weeks from planting|
Make sure you handle your chitted tubers (baby potatoes) with care, gently setting them into the trench with the shoots pointing upwards, being careful not to break the shoots. Cover the potatoes lightly with soil.
After a little while shoots will appear, you will need cover each plant with a ridge of soil so that the shoots are just buried. You will need to do this at regular intervals and by the end of the season each plant will have a small mound around it about 15cm high.
You home-grown potatoes should be ready for lifting (and eating) from June onwards depending on the varieties you have chosen. Your first crop ‘Earlies’ can be lifted as soon as they’re ready which is when the plants begin to flower. Your second and maincrop varieties can be kept in the ground much longer, until September, even though the plant itself may well be looking past its best.
A great place to store your delicious potatoes is in our ‘Grown in the UK Bucket’, it not only looks fabulous on your worktop but keeps the soil in one place too!