A potato plan (492)

by Max Akroyd

Apart from onions, potatoes are the major vegetable crop if you want to live off your land, but the one that causes most trepidation in this part of the world. Thanks to the mild and damp Breton climate potato blight is rampant hereabouts: it’s not a question of if it will strike, but when…

This large, spud-loving family has to get the seed potatoes in the ground early then. Maincrop varieties are not a viable option because they are just sitting ducks for blight; if you get your second earlies to harvest around here, without resort to chemical fungicides, it’s a great result. So the varietal choice comes down to yield and earliness (and whatever they have in stock at the local garden centres).

This year I’m going to go for broke and plant some first early potatoes ridiculously early, maybe next week. To protect them from the frost I’ll cover them in a mulch of straw and then plastic until the haulms start to appear. It’s a gamble, but if the weather is kind I’ll beat the cold, and the blight. Before I can plant the rest of the potato seed I’ll have to dig some more potato trenches as most of the ones I’d dug previously ended up being used for other things like a giant broad bean sowing in October! This was this morning’s effort, just another 55 metres to go: 

In the trenches