Caption: Winning potatoes grown in Wool Compost by Ian Simpson.
Have you heard people say you should plant your potatoes on Good Friday? An old wives tale perhaps, or an old tradition. Where did it come from? I have read that cottagers were working so hard that Good Friday was the only day between New Year and Easter that they had free to get into their garden to start planting.
However, an older tradition says that after the potato's introduction to Europe in the 16th Century from the Peruvian Andes, Protestants in the UK and Ireland would not plant potatoes because they were not mentioned in the Bible. Catholics in Ireland though, were OK about it as long as the seed potatoes were sprinkled with Holy Water, and planted on Good Friday, so that they were baptised.
It can also be associated with “gardening by the moon”, and the fact that Good Friday is always a good day in the lunar cycle to plant root crops.
As this year Good Friday falls on 25th March you may want to ignore “tradition” as it is a little early to plant. Potatoes are frost tender, so unless you fleece the crop, or cover up the green tops with soil through April and May, your crop may suffer.
There are lots of different varieties of potatoes and people have their own favourites depending on flavour and texture, from the waxy salad potatoes to the floury potatoes great for mash.
I like to grow some earlies in potato bags– and have had success with Pentland Javelin and Foremost. This year I am looking out for Lady Cristl as they are meant to be good to grow in bags. I half fill the bag with Wool Compost just covering the seed potatoes. As the green leaves emerge, I cover again with more wool compost until reaching the top of the bag.
Go out now and get some seed potatoes to avoid the “Good Friday” rush! The earlier you get there the greater choice you will have.