Sunday, 21 April 2013

Potatoes planted a foot apart blog 15


Potatoes planted a foot apart - was not twelve inches

On the up side it meant that three men could plant more potatoes than six people with different size feet.
Potatoes',   Going on from what Matthew Naylor wrote about potatoes, in one of his blogs,  the earliest I remember at home was of the ground being ridged in shallow ridges and for the muck to be spread along and potatoes dropped in the bottom and the ridges split.

He was talking about how his dad always planted them a foot apart, and that was what I recalled, the trouble was not everyone's foot was the same length, some of the women working had size five or six boots right up to some men with size twelve boots, and that's a big difference. You see taters were carried in an apron sack tied round your waist and the bottom two corners had a loop of cord tied to them and was strung up round your neck, this way you could carry half a hundred weight.

Each step you took you dropped a spud against your toe, and then step forwards with your heel against the one just dropped and so on. So as you see the plant population varied quite widely from row to row depending on what big footed bloke had planted and another with smaller feet,  so overall there could easily be a rough average of a foot apart (in the meaning twelve inches)
When we got onto a tractor ridge plough, we had a potato planter mounted onto it; this consisted of two hoppers for the seed and two seats hanging out the back. Behind one outside furrow was a measuring wheel with a bell on it, to indicate when to drop a spud. It could be varied as to what spacing you required, but it all came down to planting at a foot apart.

The seed was carefully tipped into the hoppers on the headlands, knocking off some sprouted tubers, then as they were hand dropped at every ping of the bell down a narrow spout some more sprouts were knocked off, the larger tater took longer to rumble down the spout and the smaller ones shot down quickly, so again the distance apart varied, then a tuft of muck or grass blocked the chute and there would be a dozen taters missed. Stop the machine, empty the spout, and go back and plant them in the ridge where it was thought they should have been.

Another drawback was the incessant ringing of the bell particularly if your seat was right over it, and the planter, while it save walking and carrying the seed down the ridges it did nothing to improve accuracy the spacing's. On the up side it meant that three men could plant more potatoes than six people with different size feet. So planting a foot apart started to become nearer to the twelve inches that was aimed for.

The man who nothing to boast of but his illustrious ancestry is like a potato - the best part is underground.Thomas Overbury  (1581 - 1613)

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