Potato Prep

If you haven’t already now’s the time to buy your seed potatoes and set them out to chit. I ordered mine from JBA Potatoes – you should always buy them from a reputable seed potato merchant.

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I’m growing 3 varieties this year – Winston a first early and Kestrel & Charlotte which are second earlies. This should mean they’re lifted before any chance of blight later in the summer. The Winston and Kestrel are dual-purpose – I’ll be entering them in the New Forest Show at the end of July all being well to cover the white and coloured potato categories and they’re both tried and tested good eaters that we enjoy. Some people don’t like Winston in particular but I think they’re fine. For a white potato they are the only one to consider for the show bench. With coloured potatoes there are a few good showing varieties – Kestrel, Bonnie, Blue Belle and Amour for example all of which are good eaters. Finally Charlotte are my favourite potato, the best salad spud in my opinion.

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The seed potatoes go into cold water mixed with Milton baby sterilising fluid. The idea here is to protect the new crop against any surface diseases that may be on the seed potato. I leave them in for 48 hours before drying off and setting them out to chit.

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Find an area with plenty of natural light that is free from frost. I use our conservatory which is cold in winter but always above freezing and there’s loads of windowsill space which fills up quickly in Spring. Set them out in egg boxes or seed trays so the bottom-end (the part that was attached to the old plant) is facing downwards – the potato will sprout from the top-end. By chitting before planting you’re getting a head start under protected conditions. I will plant out in mid-March.

2 responses to “Potato Prep

  1. As you know, I don’t grow for showing, so I am perhaps a little less meticulous than you! I suppose the disinfecting step is good practice anyway, though I have not in the past had much problem with disease. Like you, I have also got some Winston this year. I have not grown them before, but everybody talks about them, so I thought I had better see for myself. One variety I had hoped to get at the Hants Potato Day was Belle de Fontenay, but there weren’t any. Have you grown them at all?

  2. My main concern is scab – I’ve heard conflicting comments that it can be transferred from the seed potato and it can’t be transferred it’s a result of conditions following planting. The sterilisation is an attempt to combat this if the disease is transferrable from the seed potato. I’ve not tried Belle de Fontenay. Re Winston there are some that grow for showing and throw them away as they don’t like the taste – I always eat what I grow – showing or otherwise and Winston are fine as far as I’m concerned. If I hadn’t liked them I wouldn’t just grow them for showing alone.

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