January is a very quiet month, particularly after the excesses of Christmas, so my allotment has not had very much attention recently. However, now February is nearly here, I am thinking of the growing season ahead of me and all the gardening fun it holds in store.  And what better place to plan all that needs to be done than the allotment itself!

Here in Birmingham, where I have my allotment, we have a wonderful ‘social’ area where we can sit after a hard days work, chat with our allotment neighbours and exchange ‘words of wisdom’ and tips. Also, in the summer months, we will leave any extra produce we have grown here and so use it as a ‘produce swap’ area.

Today, I have potatoes on my mind!!!!

In the next few weeks there are plenty of Potato Days around the country. This week’s Saturday Telegraph mentioned several in their gardening section. These days are well worth going to. They are organised by local groups and Garden Centres and some can be quite big affairs. There is one in Coventry next week which I will be going to.
There are experts on hand to advise on growing and all the different varieties which are available. You will also find a diverse range of seed potatoes available for purchase.

Seed potatoes need to be ‘chitted’. This means leaving them in the light – I put mine in egg boxes. This encourages the new shoots to grow. You will need to knock off some of the shoots – you will only need 3 per potato.

Start chitting from late January in warmer parts of the country or February in the cooler parts. Six weeks after the start of chitting you should be able to plant then out.  Frost damage is the main concern when planting potatoes. If frost is forecast, then draw some soil over them, or better still, plant them with a cover of polythene over them until the danger of frost has passed.

Try not to plant them in frost prone sites.