Grow your own spuds for Christmas Dinner

 In Events, News

SANTA Claus reckons he’s a lucky spud after discovering he can plant his own potatoes and they’ll be ready to eat with his Christmas dinner.

He visited Cardwell Garden Centre yesterday to get his supply of seed potatoes and find out how to plant them so they’ll be ready for harvesting in late December.

There are several varieties of potatoes that can be planted both indoor using grow bags and outdoors in planters, or in the ground.

After planting his own supply of Christmas Day potatoes, Santa said: “I thought potatoes were a spring and summer crop and was amazed to find out you can plant spuds in August and September and they’ll be ready to harvest and cook for my Christmas dinner.

“I’m looking forward to tasting my home-grown potatoes and it will save Mrs Claus from going to the shops to buy some.”

Paul Carmichael is retail general manager at Cardwell Garden Centre, near Gourock and revealed he was speaking to Santa about his visit to the centre’s grotto later in the year when he mentioned how easy it was to grow your own potatoes for Christmas Day.

“We’ve had a lot of interest this year from people wanting to grow their own potatoes for harvesting in December and we’ve sold hundreds of seed potatoes.

“People seem to like the idea of growing their own potatoes to eat with their Christmas dinner and I can understand how it would be quite satisfying to know you’ve grown the spuds that are on your plate along with the turkey, stuffing, chipolatas and vegetables.

“It’s not just that it’s economical to grow your own, it’s really easy especially in one of the grow bags to plant them in you can get at Cardwell.”

The Royal Horticultural Society gives this advice on how to grow potatoes indoors for a Christmas harvest –

  1. Use a container at least 30cm (1ft) deep and wide, with drainage holes in the base (specialist potato-growing containers are also available).
  2. Add a layer of potting compost or garden soil mixed with garden compost or well-rotted manure. A layer 10cm (4in) thick is sufficient for 30cm (1ft) deep pots, but larger containers can be half-filled.
  3. Plant one to three tubers per pot, each with about 30cm (1ft) of space, and cover with 15cm (6in) of compost or soil.
  4. As the foliage develops, earth up the potatoes with further compost or soil until the container is full to within 5cm (2in) of the top. Leave a lip to aid watering.
  5. Keep well-watered and feed with a general-purpose liquid fertiliser.
  6. Ensure the greenhouse remains frost-free as the season progresses, as potato foliage would be damaged by frost.
  7. The foliage will yellow and die down in late autumn and can then be removed and composted.
  8. Tubers can be left in their pots in compost (kept fairly dry) until needed at Christmas.

And how to grow potatoes outdoors for a Christmas harvest –

  1. Follow instructions for growing potatoes, including planting them in a trench and earthing them up as they begin to grow.
  2. Take measures to protect against potato blight and slugs.
  3. Once foliage dies down in September or October, remove and compost it.
  4. On light soils in a sheltered garden, piling some earth up over the row where you know the potatoes are and covering it with straw to insulate tubers may be sufficient protection to store them in the ground until Christmas.
  5. In cold areas, or where soils are wet and heavy, it is better to lift tubers by the end of October and re-bury them in coarse sand or soil in a frost-free place (such as a garden shed) until you need them.
  6. Lifting and storing potatoes in the fridge, or in bags in a cool shed, is possible but will cause the skins to harden and the desirable, delicate ‘new-potato’ flavour and texture will be lost.
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