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Sunday, 8 April 2018

April News from Upchurch Horticultural Society - From the Potting Shed


Sponsored by Upchurch River Valley Golf Course Ltd

April has arrived and there is nowhere to hide, the next two months in the garden are the busiest of the year. Hopefully you managed to find some dry mild weather in March to get the tidying up done, but now is the time to get production going. There is literally so much to cover that again I would like to direct you to www.thompson-morgan.com/in-the-garden-this-month for a list of jobs to do in April.

The main jobs to focus on are to quick start the lawn with a high nitrogen weed and feed keeping the Phosphate and Potash levels low. Lift and divide the perennials to increase numbers and fill gaps in the borders, divide primroses as they finish off, plant summer flowering bulbs (lilies are best in containers), prune spring flowering shrubs once they have finished flowering, deadhead daffodils and tulips and allow them to die down, plant salad crop seeds, cabbage seed and parsnips. The other main job is to get the maincrop potatoes in by the end of the month.

I personally still like to put my potatoes straight into the ground but this does leave them vulnerable to pests and scab (which looks unsightly but can be peeled away). However, you will actually grow better quality maincrop potatoes in bags or containers, particularly if you want to exhibit your potatoes in a horticultural show. A lot of growbags are available in the shops but they tend to have one big drawback...they are not deep enough. It is best to grow maincrop potatoes in a deep bag or container that allows you to earth up as the tubers form and increase the depth. This can be done in a heavy duty bin liner or a plastic builder’s trug (available from B&Q for £4 each).

Place 4” of general compost mixed with sieved soil in the bottom of the container and add a general fertiliser or dried manure. Place the seed potato on the top with the chitted sprouts facing upwards, then cover with a further 4” of compost/soil/fertiliser mix. Keep the soil watered so that it is moist but not wet. As the top growth (haulms) develop to about 6” above the surface earth up with a further 2” of soil mix. Repeat several times until the container is full. When the haulms have flowered and start to yellow and bend over (approx 20 weeks) cut them down to about 3” above the surface which will thicken the potato skins. Then after a further 3 weeks take the crop.


There is a vast selection of maincop potatoes available, but it’s best to grow a variety which suits how you like to cook your spuds. Chips, for example, really need Maris Piper which is used by the chip shops. Markies are a great baked potato. Picasso is arguably the best boiled potato. Golden Wonder for mash and King Edwards for roast tatties. However, if you want to keep it simple and go for the best all-rounder, you can’t beat Cara in my opinion.

There is nothing quite like fresh potatoes straight out of the soil and I must admit I do not lift mine, but leave them in the soil through the winter with no adverse effect, although this is taking a risk. I just can’t face trying to peel lifted spuds in February when they have gone soft and shrivelled.

Roll on May and roll out the barrel.

We are always looking for new members and try to encourage a fun attitude towards friendly competition. So if you want to grow your own fruit, vegetables and flowers or even enter any of the 3 shows we hold each year, then please get in touch, we would be happy to hear from you.

If you are interested in becoming a new member, (all ages are welcome), please contact Rosey on: 01634 377812 (evenings) or Email: rosemary@ringwoodaccounting.co.uk

Sean Barry - Upchurch Horticultural Society
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