Good Friday is the traditional day to make the first planting of chitted (sprouted) seed potatoes. They will still grow without chitting - just more slowly.
There are First Early, Second Early and Maincrop varieties and where space is an issue it makes sense to plant First Earlies (Winston is recommended) or Salad varieties, including Charlotte, Anya, La Ratte and Pink Fir Apple, as they are all particularly delicious when homegrown and more expensive to buy than Maincrop varieties. In areas blighted (literally) by potato blight, plant the Sarpo strain of potatoes - they have natural resistance to the disease and are available from Thompson & Morgan. Select the 3 strongest sprouts on each seed potato and rub away the others. Plant potato tubers with sprouts facing upwards in a 15cm deep trench, spaced 30cm apart and allow a minimum of 60cm between rows in soil that has been enriched with well-rotted compost or manure. Easter is very early this year and the weather is far from spring-like, so use your common sense and delay planting if things don’t improve.
Illustration: Stewart Walton
Words: Stephanie Donaldson