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Grow your own spuds

Serve up fresh potatoes, straight from your back garden

Concerns over pesticides and genetically modified crops have got many people thinking about growing their own fruit and vegetables. But you don’t have to be green-fingered or even have a garden to start growing your own food. Potatoes can be grown from a sack with little to no effort at all.

If the closest you’ve come to growing your own vegetables was cultivating some cress on a piece of damp cotton wool when you were a kid, then potatoes are a great place to start.

This is because they are one of the easiest and most rewarding vegetables to grow and you don’t need acres of space, or even a garden to get a perfect crop.

All you need is a grow sack, seed potatoes and plenty of patience and you can create a mouth-watering harvest on a patio, balcony or even roof garden. Not only that, but dedicated spud lovers can grow the earliest potatoes possible.

There are two main types of potato growing containers: a barrel or a sack. For those that prefer a sack, seed manufacturers Marshall’s have come up with a handy Gro-Sack with carry handles which means that unlike potato barrels, you can move it wherever you want – freeing space in the greenhouse or balcony, just when you need it.

So you’ve got your sack or barrel, you’ve got your seed potatoes and you’re ready to start growing potatoes. Still feeling unsure? Don’t worry, to help you along the way Marshall’s have compiled a list of helpful hints to ensure perfect spuds every time.

Six steps to perfect potatoes

Before you start planting your seed potatoes place them in a cool, light area to encourage strong sturdy shoots to grow before they are planted in the ground. For all you non-gardeners out there, this process is called chitting.Find the end of the potato with the most sprouts forming (called the rose end), this needs to be exposed to the light to promote growth.Stand the tubers (this is the swollen region of an underground root) upright in an egg box with the rose end skyward. Keep them in a light frost-free place to let the shoots develop.When shoots are up to one centimetre plant three in the grow-sack or barrel in a layer of 10-15cm of soil-based compost, burying them completely.As the tubers start to grow keep burying them adding another 10-15cm of soil until the grow-sack or barrel is full to within a couple of inches of the brim.When your grow-sack or barrel is full the tubers will start to leaf up. As soon as the leaves have flowered the potatoes are ready to eat.

If you’re new to growing your own vegetables, a beginner’s kit such Marshall’s Gro-sacks will help you get started. They come in packs of three, complete with nine seed potatoes. For a gourmet crop, try a taster kit of three grow-sacks with three tubers each of Charlotte, Swift and Maris Peer. The packs are priced at £12.95.

So whether you’re an avid gardener or kill every plant you own, have a 10 acre garden or no more than a balcony, potatoes are a vegetable that everyone can grow and enjoy.

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