When I posted the previous Potato Diary on 4th May, I had just moved the potato bags from the greenhouse to the patio. Since then, we’ve had freezing temperatures, when I had to wrap them in bubble-wrap.
I squeezed as much compost into the bags as I dared.
And watered them in dry weather.
And now, it’s a waiting game.
I’ve moved the small pots from the shady patio to the east-facing mini-patio by the oil tank
and as those pots are emptied – hopefully during June – and removed, I’ll transfer these three bags to the same place. Those in the old washing-machine drum and the dustbin will have to remain where they are.
By 13 June, I couldn’t wait any longer to try some home-grown potatoes. Not wanting to use one of the large bags, I thought I’d start with a small pot that contained four small seed potatoes.
This was the result. Enough for one meal for two people; but there were lots of tiny potatoes still forming on the plants, so I put them back in the pot and gave them a good watering in the hope they will produce more.
These are in a small tray that contained mushrooms (to gauge size) so they are large enough to eat but not too big.
After taking these images, I found out that the potatoes on the left (four bags containing Pink Fir Apple will be the last to be harvested. While the other bags contain first earlies and early maincrop.
So a few days later, we had a sort out, moving the Swift (1st early) and Desiree (main) to a new spot where they should get more sun.
This left plenty of space on the patio step for my newly planted tomatoes, once the Pink Fir Apples had been shunted over. I say ‘shunted’ because the other bags were extremely heavy and it took two of us to move them that short distance to the area by the oil tank.
A small sample of Swift from one of the blue pots. I only took what I needed this time, so there should be room for the remaining tiny potatoes to expand. I think this is the way to go, selecting a small number from each potato bag or pot until I am sure the supply is exhausted – and it saves room in my vegetable cupboard – no more sprouting potatoes.
And another haul of Swift (or maybe not – labelling was optional as I desparately tried to plant 3 times the amount of potatoes I’d planned to gtow at home). This time from the black pot on the sunny patio.
Harvesting the Swift potatoes by sticking my hands in the compost and gently feeling around, I find there are very few potatoes in the topmost layer. Possibly that is my fault for not squeezing a little more compost into the top of the bags. I’m hoping that there are several more near the bottom of the bags or pots.
I’m not weighing them, but pick between six to eight each time, depending on the size. It’s a bit of a lucky dip. These potatoes are ideal for steaming or a slow simmer and don’t tend to fall apart. They have an excellent flavour, ideal served warm with a touch of butter.
By the weekend of 18th/19th July, I had emptied all three pots and moved the remaining Swift bags into the greenhouse so the compost can start to dry out. By leaving the potatoes in the compost until I need them, they should store without sprouting. I’ve still got Swift in the plastic dustbin but I’m not expecting great things as that’s the first place the wind catches.
I used the compost from the Swift pots to top up the bags containing Pink Fir Apple.
I am disappointed with the few potatoes I harvested from this old dustbin. Very small and very few of them. I haven’t got all the way down to the bottom yet, but I’m not holding out much hope. An experiment that will not be repeated.
By 7th August we had one bag of Swift potatoes left to harvest. I wouldn’t say that the crop has been high, but I did have to jam the chitted potatoes in where I could. It could be a combination of starting them off in home-made compost, hot spring weather and cool summer weather. As soon as that bag is emptied, we move onto Desiree, which should be ready for harvesting just in time. That’s these three bags, the old washing machine drum and another three brown bags by the oil tank.
And after that, we have four bags of Pink Fir Apple to work through from September.
By 10th August, I had harvested my last Swift (first earlies), which went into the slow cooker, added to a beef stew.
And started harvesting the maincrop Desiree. These were from one of the green bags on the shady patio. I’m not convinced that there are many more in that bag to pick out.
It will soon be time to plant potatoes for Winter cropping. I grew Charlotte potatoes last year but didn’t have many. Again, I probably overwatered them, and I may have left it later than I should to take them into the potting shed. This year I will try them in bags in the greenhouse.