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Green Fingers: 'The story of spuds' - James Vaughan

'The story of spuds' - James Vaughan

FOR many weeks now we have been waiting to start harvesting our potatoes. We only sowed one variety this year- Sharps Express. There’s nothing to beat the taste of fresh new potatoes, you can simply rub the skin off with your fingers. It's one of those questions that every new grower asks me - “When are my potatoes ready for harvest?”

Within a typical growing season, we are able to grow 3 types of potatoes. These are first earlies, second earlies and main crop. The first and second early varieties are known as ‘new potatoes’. They have a shorter growing season than maincrop and are generally smaller in size but taste better. It is worth noting that ‘new potatoes’ do not store as well as maincrop, so you should use these in the kitchen first.

Weather conditions permitting, first early seed potatoes are planted between mid-March and mid-April. Traditionally, St. Patrick’s day was the day chosen to plant potatoes here in Ireland. They should be ready for harvesting after about 10-12 weeks. That should ensure a nice crop of fresh potatoes for early June and into July. There will be no sizeable tubers until the plants have finished flowering, so it’s not worth even thinking of lifting them until then. Once the plants have finished flowering, try a test dig to see if they are of a useable size. Only harvest what you need for a couple of days at a time. Leave the rest to grow on for up to 2 weeks. They will not increase tuber quantity, but the tubers already there will increase in size. It’s amazing the difference a week can make. We are only harvesting out potatoes now because we planted our seed potatoes a bit late.


Our crop of redcurrant bushes have all but finished producing fruit now. We find that redcurrants grow quite easily for us in our garden. I intend to take cuttings from our redcurrant bushes this autumn. I have successfully done so in the past- it’s a great way of getting free plants. Just wait until all the leaves have fallen off- usually winter. Then take cuttings around 8 inches or 20 CM long. Trim the cutting with a very sharp knife to just below a node. A node is simply the point where the leaves joint the stem. The node is also the point where new roots will emerge. Place these cuttings into a pot containing a mixture of compost and sharp sand. Leave in a sheltered spot outdoors for the winter. In the spring, check the bottom of the pot for emerging roots. When you see the roots – that’s it!

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