Soil Preparation For Growing Potatoes

The Staple diet for every Irish family! Potatoes are such a versatile vegetable take it is easy to find a use from them from one day to the next. Be it chips, roasties, mash, wedges, crisps or boiled potatoes you can easily grow your own potatoes in your garden and harvest them as you need them

Soil preparation is the key to successful spuds. Today at the garden shop we will outline the process our ground preparation with the aim of making your life as simple as possible

When to start: Ideally ground should be prepared the previous autumn for best results. This allow time for weeds to be killed off and then for the added nutrients to breakdown in the soil. Finally this allows time for the soil to settle down again and for the insects and micro-organisms to re-populate the area

What potatoes need: Potatoes require a deep and highly fertile soil. As potatoes are an underground or root crop all the action really happens below the surface, therefore the soil should be as light & airy as possible to allow for a lot of expansion and growth

Type of soil: Well-draining soils, pH of 5.8 – 7, Clay or clay loam is the best. But really any well-draining soil can grow potatoes. Below is advice on how best to improve your soil for growing

Step 1. Dig over the plot to a depth of approx. 45cm. This involves double digging and it ensure your potatoes have enough room to grow and this will also improve your sites drainage. Remove perennial weed roots as you go

Step 2. Adding organic matter is the most important step when growing
potatoes. Organic matter provides nutrients but also improves air flow and drainage of soils. Add at least 4 inches of well rotted farm yard manure over the top of your soil and then work it into the lower layer with a garden fork

Step 3. Preparation prior to sowing involves making deep trenches and spacing the potatoes in these trenches. Your trench should be 10cm deep and potatoes should be spaced 45cm apart

Step 4. Add additional feed at the time of planting. Because farm yard manure is low in fertility it is advised to add a small amount of general fertiliser when planting. Approx. 35 grams per m2 would be sufficient

When to plant: traditionally St Patricks Day is the day to sow your seed potatoes as this is the point (generally) when the last frost has passed