25 March 2021
With warmer days towards the end of March, the potatoes are sprouting well.
It will soon be time to choose the best three or four shoots on each and remove the remainder – perhaps this is where I’ve gone wrong in previous years, by assuming the more shoots the better. (NOTE: I didn’t remove any shoots as they’d not grown many more than shown in these pictures)
4 April 2021
I have one bag of Pink Fir Apple potatoes left from last year, and a few near the top of the bag (diespite being covered) have started sprouting so I’ve put them in a box to continue chitting, and removed any long, white shoots.
11 April 2021
That’s the last bag of Pink Fir Apple potatoes emptied. The compost from the bag is in the wheelbarrow to dry out undercover. I’ll need to go through it to make sure there are no tiny potatoes or roots left before I pack it into a bag to use on the garden later.
These are now in a canvas bag hanging up in the garage in the dark.
Still too cold to think of planting potatoes. They’ve got plenty of ‘chits’ but only small. We’ve had overnight frosts every day this week (and last). Even the compost in the bins – which I’m going to use for the potatoes I’m growing at home – is cold to the touch. It should be warmer at the allotment but I don’t want to risk it yet.
I decided to risk planting some of my potatoes in the allotment raised bed. The community garden is approximately 82 metres above sea-level (home is 208 metres) and is exposed to sunlight for most of the day. I’ve taken a chance but have kept some potatoes back to plant in bags and pots at home in the next couple of weeks.
As of 7th May, the only potatoes I had planted are the ones in my allotment bed, and after all the rain and cold weather we’ve had, I’m not hopeful that they will survive to produce a crop. But on Sunday 9th May, spurred on by the promise of warm and dry weather, I decided today was the day the potatoes must be planted if I’ve to have any crop this summer.
First, I had to clear this area. Although I moved the daffodil and narcissi pots to the back of the garage, there were still several large pots left over from last year (mainly supporting smaller pots of 2019 hebe and lavender cuttings).
Once everything had been moved to a new (temporary site) it was time for the filling of the bags – and the emptying of one compost bin. I have enough compost in that bin for one more top-up when the foliage appears so may need to buy in a few growbags.
We won’t need to order oil until at least September (despite still having the central heating on morning and evening) so they won’t be disturbed and are in the sun from early morning until later afternoon. The perfect spot and close to waterbutts and the hosepipe.
Back row – left to right: Anya (second earlies) x 3; Pink Fir Apple (maincrop) x 2
Front row – left to right: Red Duke of York x 4; Pink Fir Apple x 1
I checked the overnight weather forecast and temperatures expected are between 13’C and 9’C, with showers and light rain for the next week.
And then it rained, and it rained, and when it wasn’t raining, we had frost, until the final weekend ending with Bank Holiday Monday (Whitsun).
Red Duke of York (first earlies)
Anya (second earlies)
Pink Fir Apple (maincrop)
After watching re-runs of Alys Fowler’s The Edible Garden (and with a temporary shortage of compost), I begged a bag of grass clippings from my neighbour and used them to mulch seven of the potato bags (Red Duke of York and Anya). The Pink Fir Apples are only just showing growth so can wait a day or so.
I’ve used the last compost from my bin to cover these same bags of potatoes after they shot up almost overnight! By the time the Pink Fir Apples need covering, I’ll have turned the compost from Bin 2 into Bin 1 and have some to spare.
It’s our Community Garden AGM on Saturday (12th), so it will be interesting to compare potato growth in the bed (planted 26 April) with the bags planted 9 days later (on 7 May).
I’ve already ordered hessian storage sacks for the allotment potatoes – a pack of ten approximately 50×75 cms (20×30 inches) which should hold around 5 kilos each – I should be so lucky to harvest that many!!