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Setanta has a lot going for it! Not only is it an easy to grow potato with blight resistance, but it's a great versatile variety in the kitchen too!
This red skinned variety has been bred from the famous Rooster variety. Similar to Rooster in that it has a dry, fluffy texture making it ideal for making delicious mash, roasts and chips. What makes Setanta different is it has excellent blight resistance in particular tuber blight resistance and yields lots of similar sized baking potatoes. It stores well so can be enjoyed for many months after harvest.
This seed is a Main Crop variety for lifting when skins are set in the Autumn.
Soil preparation for maincrop seed potatoes
Prepare the soil for maincrop potato beds during November or December in the year prior to growing crops. Incorporate generous amounts of organic matter or well-rotted manure, which will help improve soil structure, retain moisture and to add vital nutrients to the soil. Light sandy soils and heavy clay soils may require additional compost to aid drainage, which is very important for the successful growing of potatoes.
Order or buy your maincrop seed potatoes in late February or early March so that you have them ready to plant in April when favourable conditions allow.
All potatoes prefer an open sunny position and it’s always advisable not to plant seed potatoes in ground that has been previously used to grow potatoes for 2 years or more. Good practice is to rotate crops each year to help reduce the possibility of spreading disease.
Main crop seed potatoes will benefit from chitting, which is the process of placing the sets in a light, cool place prior to planting. This will encourage the growth of new shoots, giving the tubers a safe head start.
Planting maincrop seed potatoes in beds
Planting is best carried out on a dry day in April, ensuring any frost has first lifted from the soil. Lightly rake the prepared beds, in which the potato crop will be grown, so that you have a manageable tilth. Next, using a spade, dig a straight and even trench approximately 10cm deep and then place the seed potatoes at a distance of 45cm apart. If growing more than one row, space each row at around 75cm apart. Each seed potato has a rose end, which usually has the most shoots, and this end should be facing upwards. Cover the seed potatoes with soil and lightly firm down with the foot or back of the spade.
A sprinkling of potato fertiliser can then be spread over the top of the soil and water applied. If frosts are prevalent, do not over water as this could cause damage should the water later freeze. Also to prevent damage to the emerging shoots, it is recommended you cover the planted trenches with cloches until the new shoots appear. Regular watering during dry spells will ensure the young tubers swell and stay firm and healthy.
General aftercare consists of regular watering, especially during dry periods. Maincrop potatoes need quite a lot of water so it’s important the plants are not allowed to dry out.
As the young shoots grow you should “earth up” the potato stems to protect them from frosts and to ensure the new younger potatoes, nearest the surface are not exposed to light. If they are exposed to light they will begin to go green, making the potatoes inedible.
During the growing season additional fertiliser can be applied every 2-3 weeks to ensure plants obtain sufficient nutrients to keep them growing strong and healthy.
Pests and diseases
The most serious problem associated with all potatoes is blight, which can be more of a problem during the warmer summer months. If detected, then spraying the plants with a proprietary fungicide can be an effective preventative treatment.
Eelworm can also be a problem in some areas. It is highly recommended you only buy certified maincrop seed potatoes or plant resistant strains. Good hygiene and crop rotation can help avoid many common plant diseases.
Blackleg is a bacterial infection, which is also a known problem but it is usually confined to individual plants rather than the whole crop. Again, good hygiene and crop rotation is key to avoiding this particular disease.
Another common problem is potato scab, which can make the skins look a little unsightly. However, this problem does not affect the taste or quality of the potato in any way. To help avoid scab, ensure plenty of organic matter is incorporated into the soil during late autumn. Slugs can damage tender leaves and stems so “earthing up” regularly will help to keep them away from the plants.
Harvesting and storage
Maincrop potatoes can be harvested after about 15-20 weeks or at the end of the growing season. They can be left in the soil until the first frosts and then lifted, dried and stored in a dark, airy, frost-free place. Hessian or paper sacks are best for storing. Avoid using polythene bags or sacks as potatoes will sweat and rot.
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