Early potatoes and carrots in polytunnel

In the tunnel this week we sowed a small area of early nantes carrots. We prepared the bed by lightly flaming a few weeds adding some weak compost and leveling the surface. We spaced the seed two inches apart sowing 2 seeds at each station. If both germinate one will be removed. As carrots take a few weeks to get going we sowed a few radish seeds along the rows about every 4 inches. These should germinate quickly and mark out the rows so hopefully we will avoid weeding out our seedlings. We used a 200mm spacing between the rows and covered the soil with a protective fleece.

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To prepare a bed for the first early seed potatoes “home guard” we forked in some compost into the existing soil. Forking not turning the soil allows for aeration with minimal disturbance.The sets were then layed out at 250mm spacings in the row and 500mm spacings between rows.

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With the soil now uncompacted to plant the spuds we simple plunged one hand into the soil as deep as we could go about 6 inches or so and used the other to place the potatoe at the bottom of the hole. The hand in front places the potatoe as the other retracts. Point the strongest ” eye” upward if possible. A good watering 10 litres ( i can) per 1m2 and your done. Water once a week untill the temperature picks up in mid March. Cover with fleece once stems appear if frost is expected. .

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This is a quick and easy method of sowing potatoes quite different to creating drills. It avoids digging and soil disturbance, it can be used outside also. The holms can be earthed up as normal to supress weeds and blight is not a problem for earlies as they are out by May.

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The remainder of our potatoes will remain ” chitting” in egg cartons untill atleast March 17 and weather permitting be planted outside after this date. If you have seed potatoes delivered long before intended planting it’s really important to “chit” them meaning leave them in a bright place. This helps to control Phototropism where by the stems will seek out and find light sources. Think of that lost spud down the back of the cuboard. The weak stem can more easily break if planted.

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