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13/01/2009

The Potato Clamp


Storing Potatoes is a simple process, once they have been dug from the ground, and they have been left for an hour or so for the skins to harden, they are ready to be stored.

The main requirements when storing Potatoes is to place them in a cool, dark, frost free environment. This is fine if you have plenty of cool, dark, frost free space to store your Potatoes, but what if you don't?

A method of storing your Potatoes outside which is rarely used nowadays is a Potato Clamp. It's and ideal solution for allotments and gardens where undercover storage is not present.

Building

In addition to the Potatoes and earth, you will need a bale of straw to make a Clamp. Straw is a usefully item in the garden, so if you don't already have some you should try to source a bale or two from a local farmer or Horse Stables.

To build the Clamp level out an area of the ground you have just dug your potatoes from. Firm the earth down with your feet and start building a layer of Straw 20cm deep, and circular in shape. The area of the circle will depend on the amount of Potatoes you have to store. Now carefully place your dry potatoes into the center of the circle and pile them up into a cone. There should be a margin of around 20cm around the edge of the Potatoes. Now carefully cover the cone with straw until you have a cone of straw 20 cm in depth over the Potatoes. Around the outside of the cone start digging 10cm away from the edge of the straw and place the earth onto the straw, from the base upwards, so the straw is completely covered. Before you cover the very top place a section of drain pipe in the on the straw to leave a breathing hole, and surround it with earth. Pack down the earth with the back of a spade until it is firm.

You should now have a conical pile of earth with a 'chimney' at the top and a drainage trench around the base. You Potatoes should keep in there for several months. You may find around Christmas time some will have started to sprout. Simply rub the shoots off and then you can use them as you would normally.

If you have lots of Potatoes, you may wish to build several Clamps to keep more useable amounts of spuds in.

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