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Potatoes are a fantastic beginner’s crop

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Every year I do an article about potatoes, which might seem repetitive, but there are always gardeners new to this.

It seems that this year there are more people than ever growing their own veg and spuds, maybe the joy of it, or the situation in Eastern Europe is the reason. In any case, I think planting potatoes is one of the most rewarding crops, for adults and especially children. You don’t need a lot of land to grow spuds, they can even be grown in potato bags or pots - or tyres stacked on top of each other.

There are also great pots available with a basket in them which you can lift out to watch the progress!

Seed potatoes are available from February onwards, but it is too cold to plant them out then. To give them a head start, a technique called chitting is employed. To chit, simply take your seed potatoes and put them on a cardboard tray, ensuring they do not touch. Alternatively use the molded side of an egg box. Place in a cool but bright spot, free from frost. They will sprout, but this is exactly what you want. You can start to chit potatoes from the beginning of February onwards, for planting out in mid March.

There are three main types of potatoes; first earlies, second earlies and maincrop. The difference between them is planting out times and harvesting times.

First early varieties are:

Duke of York, Orla, Sharpes express, Casablanca and Arran Pilot. They are planted out from March, but need to be protected from from frost. Plant them 30cm apart, 60cm between rows and 12cm deep. Harvest in June.

Second early varieties are:

British Queen, Homeguard, Nicola and Charlotte. Plant out from March, again protecting from frost, 30cm apart, 60cm between rows and 12cm deep. Harvest in July. Maincrop varieties are Rooster, Kerr Pinks, Setanta, Golden Wonder, Maris Piper and many more. Plant out from the beginning of April. Plant 40cm apart, 75cm between rows and 12cm deep. Harvest from August onwards.

Earthing up – what is it?

It is done when the potato plants are about 20-30cm tall. Pile soil loosely around the stems. This encourages potatoes to form higher up the plant than they would normally, increasing your yield quite substantially. With maincrop varieties it can be done twice.

Blight is caused by fungal spores which are airborne and particularly prevalent in warm humid weather. There is usually a blight warning given on weather forecasts. First symptoms are yellowing foliage, followed by dying foliage. Quickly after that the potatoes will rot. To prevent blight, you can spray with Copper Mixture. It works by sealing the leaves with a layer of copper, preventing the fungus from taking hold. If the disease takes hold, cut away all the foliage, take it away and if possible burn it. Leave the potatoes in the ground for several days, and hopefully they will not be affected.

There are blight resistant potatoes, such as Sarpo Mira. These are not as prone to getting the disease. Planting first and second earlies is also a good way to avoid blight, as they are usually harvested before the blight season begins.

If you are starting a vegetable garden, potatoes are a fantastic beginner’s crop. They loosen the soil in preparation for future crops, but they are also more or less trouble free and quick growing. They are an excellent crop when gardening with children, large enough to handle, resilient to being stood on in the garden, and the surprise young children get when you dig up that one small spud which has magically become a bucket full is something to see!

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Volunteers wanted for street collection

By Michelle Crean October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and local volunteers are keen to not only raise awareness but also funds. Kathrina Breen, Eleanor O’Doherty and Kathleen O’Shea who […]

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By Michelle Crean

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and local volunteers are keen to not only raise awareness but also funds.

Kathrina Breen, Eleanor O’Doherty and Kathleen O’Shea who have been supporting the Irish Cancer Society for many years are delighted to be able to get back to their Pink Ribbon street collection in Killarney town next Friday (October 7).

They are the only group in the country doing the collection as many fundraisers have moved online since the pandemic struck.

“We’re the only town in Ireland doing it this year,” Kathrina, who feels it’s important to keep a street collection going, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We haven’t done it in two years since before COVID. I pushed to do it as it raises a lot of money. People have been supporting this for years, this money goes towards breast detection equipment, information leaflets in doctors surgeries and towards cancer grants.”

In 2021, donations helped 254 breast cancer patients with free transport to and from 2,380 chemotherapy appointments by volunteer drivers, 154 patients received 514 nights of end-of-life care from Night Nurses and 3,430 enquiries were made about breast cancer through the Freephone Support Line 1800 200 700 and at 13 Daffodil Centres across the country.

And she added that they’re looking for a few volunteers to help out on the day.

“If anyone would like to help they can contact me on 087 2612992.”

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Calls for Council to acquire vacant Rock Road properties

By Sean Moriarty There are calls to make two vacant properties on Rock Road available to Kerry County Council’s housing inventory. The two cottages, one either side of the entrance […]

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By Sean Moriarty

There are calls to make two vacant properties on Rock Road available to Kerry County Council’s housing inventory.

The two cottages, one either side of the entrance to St Finan’s Hospital, are vacant for some time.
Cllr Maura Healy-Rae raised the issue at a recent Killarney Municipal District meeting.

“Regarding two vacant houses at the entrance to St Finan’s on Rock Road which appear to be vacant for a significant period of time. One of the properties is in the ownership of the HSE. I requested that Kerry County Council would liaise with the HSE with a view to potentially acquiring this house,” she told the Killarney Advertiser after the meeting.

“I stressed that it is important that the local authority exhaust all possibilities when it comes to providing more houses, particularly properties located within the town of Killarney where the need and demand for housing is critical.”

Kerry County Council said it would get the Vacant Homes Officer to contact the owner of the privately owned bungalow.

“They will inform the property owner that there is funding available under various schemes and grants to aid the return of this property to habitable use. Such schemes include the Repair and Lease Scheme and the recently launched Croí Cónaithe vacant property grant,” said a Council official.

Cllr Healy-Rae added: “I requested that KCC would liaise with the HSE with a view to potentially acquiring this house.”

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