In March the tubers of Solanum tuberosum ‘Desiree’ can be cultivated in boxes with a layer of peat or potting soil. Place the boxes in a sunny spot at 10-15˚ C. Cut large tubers into pieces, each piece must have at least three shoots. The best planting time is late April, the young shoots are then less likely to freeze. Before planting out let the potatoes become acclimatised to the outdoor temperatures. Prepare the soil by working it loose and plant the potatoes in rows. The distance between the rows should be about 70 cm and 30 cm between the potatoes. Protect the young shoots from frost by covering with fleece or a temporary tunnel liner. Fertilise the soil in winter with a mixed organic fertiliser, granulated cow manure or old garden/farmyard manure. Before planting add 45 grams of potassium per square metre. Potatoes can be grown in a spot in full sun or partial shade.
Solanum tuberosum ‘Desiree’ is a red-skinned potato. It is a versatile variety in the kitchen, makes a great baked potato and an ideal potato for making chips. The flesh is waxy to floury. The potato originated in South America where it has been eaten for thousands of years. We have been associated with it in Europe since the late 18th century. Nowadays this staple food tuber is number 1 in the Europe cuisine! Potatoes are high in starch, potassium and vitamin C. The small green fruits that can be found between the leaves are highly toxic.Crop rotation
Potatoes should not be grown on the same plot of land more than once every four years because of disease.To prevent problems caused by viruses and nematodes, crop rotation is recommended. Potatoes should have a rotation cycle when planted at home as root crops under Group A (leafy vegetables, cabbages, courgettes, etc.). After the potatoes are finished you can then grow endive, lettuce and onions on the same plot.
By mid-June, it is important that the potatoes are earthed to prevent the tubers from turning green. Do this by placing additional soil around the plants until the plants reach 20 cm high. Mulching, by using straw or black plastic, stops the soil from drying out and prevents weed growth. Water extra during dry periods. Potatoes should not be cultivated on the same piece of land more than once every four years, in order to prevent diseases. Viruses and nematodes can be a problem so always buy new of resistant varieties and make sure you keep up with crop rotation.Harvesting the potatoes
Potatoes ‘Desiree’ can be harvested when the flowers are fully open. It is also depending on the weather, but this is usually from late July. Use a fork with blunt teeth. When the potatoes have been lifted leave them for a few hours on top of the earth to dry off. Potatoes can be stored well in a dark cellar or in a frost-free shed.