This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
As might have been expected, cottagers and small growers have "gone into" these varieties extensively, but with various results as regards success - some declaring they have had very heavy crops, while others have no crop at all, or at least none worth speaking of. In the latter case, I believe the result has been due almost wholly to too close planting, aggravated, perhaps, by rather late seasons. In this district, which is a late one, the most conflicting testimony is given regarding the yield of the two sorts named. That in some cases the yield has been small I have myself ascertained, but it was, as I have stated, because the sets were too thick on the ground. Cottagers are proverbially prejudiced against wide planting, thinking it is a waste of space, being naturally anxious to make the most of their small plots. From what I have seen of the Champion here and the Magnum Bonum, I am of opinion that the rows should be 5 feet asunder, and the sets at least 18 inches apart. The haulm grows that height, and, so far as I have noticed, the crop has always been in proportion to the space allowed to the tops. Planted much thicker, both sorts get to be a tangled thicket of attenuated roots.
Both varieties do produce enormous crops under favourable conditions, and they are the kinds for the cottager; for they keep well, and arc in fine condition and really good late the following season, when most other sorts are over, or nearly so, and new Potatoes have not yet come in for general use. The mistake of too close planting is very common. Every kind ought at least to be allowed the height of the haulm between the rows The same space is usually given to every crop, principally, it seems, because anything less than 18 inches is barely sufficient for any kind; but with tall-growing sorts the necessities of the case are not always realised. 2 1/2 or 3 feet between the rows is little enough for any late variety almost, and for some of the latest growers even more room should be given. The advantages of plenty of space are more apparent in forcing the Potato than in growing it outdoors. When crowded in a frame, no crop at all is the result; but given room, all forcing sorts are very productive. In order to afford the stems as much light as possible, and keep them from falling over and getting crowded, I have at times gone to the trouble of supporting them with stakes, and with great advantage to the crop.
Of course the sets had been disbudded before planting, so that there were not a great number of stems to support, and all were good and strong. J. S.