Planting Blight Resistant Potatoes

Over the years we have experimented with the growing of potatoes, from open ground successes to failures in crop rotation, to growing in tyres. We've had blackleg and last year's wet summer meant we succumbed to blight. This year we're back to open ground but trying a new technique, digging a hole two spits wide and one spit deep (a spit is the size of the blade on a spade). We're then placing a seed potato in each corner of this hole and back filling. We came across this technique which means more of a use of mulches, as the potatoes grow we will mulch with grass, compost or hops. The tyres are out this year and being used mainly as wind breaks and possibly waterbutts -- we'll show you that at a later date.

gardening, blight, potatoes, life on pig row

We're also going for blight resistant varieties this year including Sarpo Mira and Vales Sovereign. We have Cara, though not necessarily blight resistant, this variety is more blight tolerant, to grow in some potato sacks. Potatoes are a big crop for any grower, and they take up a lot of room, so when a crop is lost to blight it isn't just heartbreaking, it's downright uneconomical.


gardening, how to grow spuds

Now, we don't mean economics in terms of money, we mean it in the sense of space. This bed once was filled with spuds and when you lose a 20 x 20 foot bed to a disease that means you have effectively lost space that could have been handed over to lettuces, cabbages or beans. Beans are a good crop for gardeners, easy to store and preserve. Potatoes have a short shelf life and when they are hit by blackleg can't be stored.


gardening

When potatoes are hit by blight, likewise they can't be stored too -- if you manage to save the pitiful tubers. Our harvest for 2016 barely filled a bucket and that can be really problematic when a third of your garden is handed over to spuds, that's why after the Wartime Garden, under the advice given then, we cut down our spud growing and upped our greens. Growing less spuds meant we actually have had higher yields but its all about the soil, and adding the right stuff beforehand. Last year this bed received around a ton of compost and the affects are wonderful. The stuff has been sat as a mulch over winter, around eight inches thick and now a spade sinks into it like butter and when you look for any signs of subsoil it's around two spits deep. This is a far cry from the few inches of grit we inherited back in 2010. Many gardeners now comment on our soil, they wonder how we get it so black and fertile, and the answer is treat the soil well and the plant will grow well. You don't need loads of potatoes, you just need loads of seasonal variety.

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