GARDENING

Gardening with James Vaughan: Alleviate cabin fever with gardening

James Vaughan

Reporter:

James Vaughan

Email:

news@tipperarylive.ie

Gardening with James Vaughan: Alleviate cabin fever with gardening

Grow your own potatoes. Now is a perfect time to plant them

With recent events and people working from home you may at this stage be suffering from a bit of cabin fever. One way to alleviate this is to get outside and get some gardening jobs done. Conditions continue to improve, and gardens are finally drying out. Getting some gardening done also gets you some much needed exercise.

Seed potatoes
It is around this time of year that people traditionally plant seed potatoes. Potatoes do not grow from seeds, as such. What you buy are certified small potatoes. These potatoes are certified free from disease. If you wish to save money you can always take some potatoes from your kitchen and plant them. Once bought, the seed potato’s need to be placed on a cool, bright windowsill. This is to encourage the buds or eyes on the potatoes to grow. The term for this is chitting. Once the seed potatoes are chitted - or sprouted - they are ready to be planted.
There is no reason why they will not produce a crop of potatoes within a few months. With planting seed potatoes, the trick is to plant them deep in furrows. This means digging a trench and planting the potatoes at the bottom. As the potatoes grow you then earth-up which means you pile earth around the stems as they grow. The potatoes crop grows out from these newly- buried stems. So, in essence, the more you earth-up, the more potatoes you get!
There are literally hundreds of different types of potato. They are broadly broken down into three groups - earlies, second – earlies and main-crop. Or, as I like to simplify - early, middle and late. Potatoes are also a great crop to grow on new ground. This is because they grow strong plants and will chock-out most weeds. And, as the crop grows underground, it helps to break up the earth. There is definitely a problem in this country with blight. One simple way to avoid blight is to choose potatoes that are ‘earlies’. With this choice you will be harvesting the potatoes even before blight is around, usually from mid-Summer onwards.

Flowers for Pollinators
A factor I would urge you to consider in choosing flower seeds is food for pollinating insects. Petunia, geranium and begonia offer little in the way of nectar for our pollinators. Flowers such as marigold, alyssum and snapdragon offer much more in the form of nectar.
As mentioned, seeds are readily available to order online. If, however, you prefer to see your seed pack close-up you may opt to buy them in-store. Perhaps the largest selection of seed - both for vegetables and flowers - in Limerick is in Garden World on Ellen Street, Limerick. Both Kevin and Chris are very knowledgeable on many aspects of gardening. The shop can be contacted on: 061 414202.
Whatever it is you find the time to get up to over the next couple of weeks, please mind yourself and let's mind each other.

Contact James by email: james.vaughan1020@gmail.com