It's May and the potatoes need earthing up. / Photo: Sean James Cameron

POTATOES: Earthing Up – Why you should do it for a bumper harvest

When the potatoes shoots are through the soil and around 10cm tall, it’s time to “earth up” the crop – basically covering all the leaves with soil.

This can be done by using a bag of compost and putting it on top of the leaves or by raking soil onto the leaves from in between the potato rows.

How often do you earth-up potatoes?

Earth up your potato crop once a month.

Why do you earth up potatoes?

The process stops any potatoes being exposed to daylight, if they are the skins turn green and are poisonous to eat.

How often do you water potatoes?

Once a week and in prolonged periods of dry weather, every four days.

Can you use grass cuttings to ‘earth up’ potatoes?

If you don’t have much soil to use you can use grass cuttings. After you have cut the grass, put it straight on in the same way as soil. It also acts like a mulch to retain water, suppress weeds and after harvest time you can dig in as a soil improver.

When do you stop earthing up potatoes?

Throughout the growing season you are likely to earth up the potatoes three times. Stop earthing up when the potato leaves are about 1ft from soil level.

Why are potatoes good for clearing an area of new land?

The allotment ‘old boys’ will tell you to grow potatoes on new land because they ‘clean’ it for you. The task of earthing up and weeding at the same time is what ‘cleans’ land for you, not some magic within the potato crop.

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