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Potato tips from a commercial farmer
Mon 7-Dec-09
8:15 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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A friend who runs a large commercial farm dropped by yesterday. Every year he has about 900 acres of potatoes that he sells to supermarkets. Interestingly, only Morrison's have their own washing and packing facility. All the other chains go through middlemen.

The three varieties he regulary groes are Estima. Marfona (early baking potatoes in July) and the trusty Maris Piper.

The most striking discoveries for us were:

(1) Bigger chitted potatoes (55 to 60 mm) are more vigorous and produce better yields. They are sown first

(2) He uses far denser planting than we did: 1 foot (11 cm) apart for the bigger ones and only 7 inches (8cm) for the smaller 40 to 50 mm ones. we allowed 18 inches between ours (the book said 24 inches!)

My dad used to always cut chitted potatoes into smaller chunks, one eye on each one. They did grow no problem but next year we will put the theory to the test and use only whole potatoes, following the spacing guidelines that he uses. Hopefully we will get a better yield than this year.

Never knowingly underfed

Tue 8-Dec-09
10:53 pm
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Suky
Godalming, Surrey

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Tue 18-Aug-09
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Have just been reading about the pros & cons of chitting in Grow Your Own Mag.  I usually chit and I always manage to leave some too long and they become all leggy and they don't do so well.

I was hoping to have a biggish bed of potatoes next year but the apple tree stump is still in the middle and it is far too wet to dig it out so I may be growing in pots again.  I always plant much closer than recommended and still get good yields, too be honest I plant most things too close together 'cos I always seem to have more plants than space.Smile

Wed 9-Dec-09
7:52 am
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Well we will be going for a large amount of spuds this next year as we start to use our land. I think the key thing about planting closer is that one it does keep the weeds down but you have to remember to put lots back in the following year. The way we are going to be approaching the growing will be to leave areas fallow for a couple of years and when we eventually get animals they will be rotated into the system to keep the nutrient level up.

Danny you have chickens so you should have a fabulous resource of compost as there is nothing like a bit of chicken poo to heat it all up and break it all down.

Fri 11-Dec-09
11:53 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Sat 12-Aug-06
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Hi Suky - thanks for the reassurance that your yields are satisfactory from dense planting. As regards your apple tree, I would be inclined to pay a handyman £20 to spend a Saturday morning helping to remove it. Just my opinion. Our old apple tree grows alongside the patch that had this year's potato harvest. The apple bombs began to fall just as we were harvesting the crop, so no harm done. But I guess you need to remove your tree as it must be sucking up loads of nutrients.

Joanna - i would love to have enough space to have even one animal, never mind rotate it (we could elevate it if required Laugh). Good on you guys. It seems almost like frontier stuff.

Yes, Fiona reckons that the chicken poo, spread in Dec/Jan, should have a positive impact. But there are only 5 or 6 chucks left now and they stubbornly refuse to poo in the neat red collection bucket! Cry

Never knowingly underfed

Sat 12-Dec-09
7:02 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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I used to have a thick layer of sawdust in their hutch and a layer of shredded paper which they used to poo into and this gave me loads of compostable material.

Don't dig up the apple tree yet, I am going to do a unit on biodiversity next year and I am also looking into agroforestry, ie combining trees and agriculture so you never know there maybe some tips I can pass on once I find them. I was chatting to the biodiversity tutor and she was suggesting that it is possible to have an orchard and grow crops so will be interesting to see how that is possible.

Sat 12-Dec-09
9:29 pm
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Suky
Godalming, Surrey

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Tue 18-Aug-09
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Tree is only a stump, I'm afraid.  The land our house is built on used to be an orchard and several of the trees were beyond saving,  We had them removed at the end of the summer to give the others a better chance at survival.  We still have a cooking and an eating apple, both trees over 50 years old and I hope judicious pruning and feeding will improve them.  Unfortunately the guys doing the removal cut this one  just too short to pull out easily, it needs digging out. Frown 

We do have a new plum tree which will be fan trained against a fence, currently in a pot 'cos the fence has blown down!

Wed 16-Dec-09
7:01 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Good job you are not trying to dig it out here, even hubby's chainsaw is freezing and the ground is now the consistency of concrete -15C, lovely!!!Surprised

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