Lester C. Fretz
Here’s a way to make Father’s Day extra special! By following a few simple suggestions, it’s very easy to have new, red potatoes for your Father’s Day dinner.
Begin by buying some Norland potatoes. Increasingly, garden stores are stocking them. Usually they are available at Canadian Tire Stores by April 15-20th. Norland are the recommended variety as they mature in 70 days vs. 100+ days for other varieties however, they do not produce as many potatoes per hill.
To “get the jump” on the season, start your spuds indoors after the middle of April. Cut the potatoes leaving at least two eyes per piece. Allow them to dry for a couple of hours then plant each piece individually in a compostable paper cup with potting soil. Water and place in a warm, lighted place. Sprouts will probably appear within a week.
When the weather begins to warm up in late April or early May, transplant your plants into your garden. If you want a large quantity of small potatoes, you can plant each hill 6-8 inches apart. Work some fertilizer into the soil beside each plant.
To create a greenhouse effect, remove the bottom of a plastic juice container placing it over each plant. On warm days, remove the cap which also facilitates watering. If frost is predicted, cover the jugs with a generous amount of leaves. Remove the jug only when the weather warms up. Sometimes, it may take a couple of days.
By the third week of May, the jugs can be removed permanently. Hill up around each plant. Because it is early in the growing season, you will not have to contend with potato beetles.
This year Father’s Day falls on June 11th. Hopefully many gardeners and readers of this simple suggestion can report they harvested new, red potatoes for this special day!