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Is it safe to plant my spuds?

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  • Is it safe to plant my spuds?

    It's still unusually cold here in Cheshire, with temperatures below freezing every night, and not much higher during the day. We're desperate to get our spuds in - is it safe to do so? The ground's been covered up with muck and black plastic, so should be relatively warm, but what about once the potatoes are in?
    Any thoughts or advice welcome please!

  • #2
    Your spuds will probably be fine but the problem arises once the shoots have broken the soil. They are likely to be cut down by frost. So, you either need to be able to protect them with fleece or earthing them up until about mid May or wait a bit before planting them.

    Please could you add your location as it will affect the advice anyone offers. BTW Welcome to the vine.
    Gardening requires a lot of water - most of it in the form of perspiration. Lou Erickson, critic and poet

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    • #3
      Hi Donnelly, welcome to the Vine.
      We all get the whole desperate-to-plant, look-it's-getting-warmer instinct at this time of year. Broad beans and tatties are generally the sufferers; because alas, it is the minimum temperature, and not the maximum or even average, which matters to a sprout of any sort.
      Your soil may be warmer due to the mulch and plastic, but nonetheless, any air frosts will blacken and damage fresh tattie shoots that have poked their heads out of the soil, and may in fact wipe out a less vigorous tattie plant. What you need to do is find out when your last frost date is for your area, and go by that. Sorry, I can't remember what website tells you that !
      You don't say why you are desperate to plant your potatoes; is it impatience, are your windowsills simply full of seed tatties and the cat has nowhere to sit, or are the tatties putting out long white shoots ? If the latter, it is a sign that they need to be somewhere with more light - the shoots should be short and green with hairs, like tiny bits of the stem of an adult plant - and depending on how big they are, how shrivelled etc, you might get away with simply snapping off the shoots and letting new ones grow again from scratch. (Soaking shrivelled potatoes in water for a wee while will rehydrate them and renew their vigour.)
      Alternatively, you could try polytunnel-type cloches; put them up, wait for the soil and air inside to store up heat from sunny days, and then quickly plant your tatties inside. Personally, I have not tried fleece or Enviromesh, but I doubt if they would do as well as plastic sheeting or glass at frost protection.
      Short answer: NO.
      There's no point reading history if you don't use the lessons it teaches.

      Head-hunted member of the Nutter's Club - can I get my cranium back please ?

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      • #4
        Long answer: NO. also

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        • #5
          I took a risk on my rockets putting them in a couple of weeks back and I was planning on my Mains going in this weekend but I decided I am not going risk it. There is really very little upside when its this cold apart from getting a job out the way and the ground is earmarked solely for tatties so it isn't like I need to get them out for something to go back in later in the year.
          My new Blog.

          http://jamesandthegiantbeetroot.blogspot.com

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          • #6
            First and last frost dates for towns and cities in the UK and USA

            Will give dates for your nearest weather station but take it with a pinch of salt. I'm 600 ft higher than the station and this is an average with no indication of the range about the mean!

            FYI For Crewe it says :- First frost mid October and your last Spring frost will be in early May.
            "A life lived in fear is a life half lived."

            PS. I just don't have enough time to say hello to everyone as they join so please take this as a delighted to see you here!

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