Allotment spuds and tomatoes

Why mention potatoes and tomatoes in the same sentence? Because they are related! Yes, both are part of the nightshade (solanaceae) family, although you’d never know it to look at their fruits – the potato flower does give some hint of the relationship though.

Not only is it still fine to plant maincrop potatoes (traditionally the cut-off date has been considered to be the middle of April) but if your soil hasn’t warmed up, you may actually get a better crop from putting them in a bit later, as cold soil will check the development of early crops. If you did get them in the ground early and if you planted early potato varieties, don’t forget that you still need to protect the emerging plants from any frosts that might still be on the horizon, as potatoes can be severely damaged by a late frost. The easiest way to do this will small potato plants is to draw a little soil from the edges of the bed over the whole plant it will shove its way through in a few days without any difficulty – larger plants will need a cloche or horticultural fleece cover for the frost-threatening nights, but don’t leave it on in the day. Leave 15 inches between each potato for these later crops, using a generous amount of well rotted garden compost to cover the entire length of the trench before raking the soil back over.

You should also wow tomato seeds about now because they need a little heat to germinate, you can keep them in a heated greenhouse, or on a windowsill or in a bottom heated propagator. Water the compost well, scatter the fine seed over the top and cover thinly with vermiculite or sand. When two sets of 'true' leaves appear, pot them on. Plant them slightly deeper than before so that the baby leaves (scientifically termed the cotyledens) are just sitting on the surface. Keep them on a warm windowsill and turn them every day.

Potato courtesy of baronsquirrel

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Friday, April 18, 2008

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