Grow Your Own - Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)
We eat more potato than any other vegetable. Potatoes will grow on all types of soil, although a deep, well-drained medium loam is best. Soil has a great influence on flavour.
Both white-skinned and red-skinned potatoes can be grown as an early crop for new potatoes and as a late crop for storage. Potatoes prefer cool springs and moisture throughout the growing season.
Dig early potatoes when tubers are large enough to eat. Early soil preparation is helpful. Farmyard manure, seaweed or compost can be worked in when digging the ground in winter. Then leave the surface ridged if the land is heavy, so that it breaks down easily at planting time. At planting time, rotted manure or compost spread alomg the rows underneath the tubers, makes the roots more active. For the maincrop and even the second early sorts, manure can be supplemented with a good fertilizer such as bone meal or hoof and horn.
Common diseases are: Early blight, scab, blackleg, soft rot, rhizoctonia, ring rot, tuber rots, virus complex, fusarium, verticillium, bacterial wilts.
First Earlies: 'Arran Pilot', white kidney, floury, heavy cropper; 'Home Guard', medium sized, oval; 'Ulster Chieftain', white, oval; 'Ulster Prince', white, kidney, crops well under dry conditions; 'Epicure', a good cropping variety, white, round; ' Stormont Dawn', white floury, good flavoured.
Second Earlies: 'Craigs Alliance', white flesh; 'Craigs Royal', creamy fleshed kidney; ''Dunbar Rover', white fleshed, floury; 'Great Scot', white round; 'Maris Peer', white oval, shows some resistance to scab.
Mainscrop: 'Arran Peak', white flesh, keeps well; 'Dr.McIntosh', white kidney, grand for exhibition; 'Majestic', white kidney, waxy, irregular shape; 'King Edward', large tubers, heavy cropper; 'Maris Piper', new cultivator.