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6 November 2012

Growing Potatoes Under Black Polythene by UK Gardening Directory

This spring I tried growing potatoes under black polythene, as outlined in my RHS gardening book. The seed potatoes I used were Wilja, grown as second earlies.

I have a 4 foot wide raised bed, and planted four seed potatoes to a row. After chitting them in the greenhouse I planted them so that the tops were just level with the soil surface, and then covered them with soil, mounding it slightly. The ground should be watered first but mine was already wet due to rain.

After applying slug controls over and around the ridges, cover the area with black polythene sheet and weight down the edges securely, either with further soil or bricks etc.

When the shoots are produced, cut slits in the polythene to let the shoots grow through. Keep these as small as you can to keep light from the tubers. The plants will continue to grow through the slits.

When the potatoes are ready just roll back the polythene and your crop will be waiting. No serious digging is required to harvest them.

This method is good for growing in a small area such as a raised bed as you don't need to earth-up your plants.

Some people have also had success covering the ground with weed - suppressant fabric, cardboard and old carpet - anything to keep the light from the tubers.

I found I got a good yield from my seed potatoes, but because I missed the instruction to use anti-slug measures a fair proportion of them had been partially eaten before I got to them. I intend to try again next spring but will definitely remember the slug pellets!!
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