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Time to get Planting

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Apr 06, 2016

It is best to have three strong eye on your potato - Credit Steve Johnson
For many gardeners St Patrick's Day marks the official start of spring in the garden and the date to start planting in the garden. Traditionally by now the threat of frost is gone, the soil has dried out and the soil has also started to warm up. All this makes for the perfect conditions to start doing some proper work in flowerbeds and vegetable patch.

A few weeks ago we looked at potato types and I mentioned that St Patrick's Day is traditionally time for planting them. And judging by the number of queries I have gotten in CountryLife over the past few weeks a lot of people took the advice and have bought their seed potatoes and are getting ready for planting.

At this stage if you have chitted your seed potatoes they should have sturdy eyes coming out of them and they will be ready for planting. Before you plant them in the ground pick the strongest eyes and remove the rest. It is better to have around three strong eyes which will produce larger potatoes instead six or seven eyes that would produce more potatoes but much smaller ones.

preparation will mean you get a good crop later onWhen choosing a growing position for potatoes you want to look for a sunny spot that is nice and open. If you grow potatoes in an enclosed space with little air movement you may find that mildew and other diseases may be an issue.

The growing site also wants to be good and deep. It is good to spend time preparing the site before planting. Make sure that there is no weed debris or any rubble in the soil before your plant. This bit of preparation at the start will ensure you get a good quality crop of potatoes out at the end.

In terms of planting measurements early potatoes can be planted at 30cm apart in rows spaced 50cm apart. While the main crop varieties need more space and should be planted at approximately 40 cm apart in rows that are 75cm apart. To speed up planting I like to cut pieces of cane to size and use them as my spacers.

Potatoes are a hungry crop and so it is good idea to work in some well-rotted farm yard manure into your bed to give the potatoes a good start. If you can’t get farm yard manure you can also use good quality compost or even leaf mould in the planting area.  At home I like to use a seaweed feed throughout the year to give the growing crops a boost.

When it comes to blight treatment, new regulations have been brought in around the sale chemicals and this will mean that many gardeners will find that they will not be able to buy the same chemicals that they once did for domestic use. If you are in doubt about treatments that you can use ask in store for advice. It would be a good idea now for home gardeners to look more towards blight resistant crops which will stand a much better chance against blight. 

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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