The Potato Diaries #3

The hot weather has been good for the potatoes; only the Pink Fir Apples are lagging behind, but they are maincrop so that’s not an issue.

This time last year, my potatoes were much further advanced, with some showing flowers on 18th June 2020. Then, I grew Swift, Desiree and Pink Fir Apple; so it’s probably a combination of weather and different varieties that’s put me behind.

A few days of rain has done wonders – even the Pink Fir Apples are catching up (and need earthing up).

During the spell of hot, dry weather in July, I tried to keep on top of watering – at least once a week – and feeding every other week. I’ve had my hand in one of the Red Duke of York (first early) bags, but there didn’t seem to be much in the way of potatoes that I could find. And I never got around to adding more compost to the Pink Fir Apples (maincrop) so will have to discard any green potatoes.

After a few days of heavy rain – which watered the potato bags for me – I delved into a bag of Red Duke of York tubers and found this beauty.

It’s around three inches in length and the skin is this glorious cerise? magenta? It’s also very fine as I found when I gave it a bit of a scrub. I’ve got these in the allotment too but after all the rain we’ve had, I’m not sure a garden fork is sufficient to dig them out, but we shall see.

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So, the moment of truth dawned on 12 August as I decided to empty the first of four bags of Red Duke of York by tipping the bag into the wheelbarrow and having a rumage about. And it needed a lot of rumaging to come up with ALL the potatoes in the bag. The spent compost has gone into the compost bin to rejuvenate; I’m not sure what it will take to rejuvenate this crop of spuds.

The Red Duke of York foliage is looking very ragged now, but as we are in the process of pressure washing and sealing the patio, I have nowhere to put the bags and no room to tip them out and remove any potatoes.

With rain showers on and off all week, and more forecast for the weekend and into next week, sealing the patio is a no-go for now.

So I emptied a further two bags of Red Duke of York on 18 August. Again, not a large crop; a couple had split at some point and one or two are rather scabby. Yes, that meagre crop is from TWO bags.

The next morning, I removed the foliage from the remaining Red Duke of York and from the Anya and have put all five bags into the little shed (behind the oil tank), and the Pink Fir Apple (maincrop) bags at the side of Raised Bed B, in the hope they will continue growing for a few weeks.

The Red Duke of York may not have given high yields, but the Anya bags look promising. These are another small, long and knobbly potato – like a white Pink Fir Apple – and just removing the foliage, I unearthed several potatoes in each bag (pushed back into the compost to stop them going green).

Sainsbury’s are selling Anya potatoes at £1.50 for a 750g bag (as at 19 August) but as a 1 kg bag of seed potatoes cost me around £6 (plus compost – though most was home-made). A trip to Sainsbury’s and back to buy some is 12 miles at an approximate cost in fuel of £2. Hopefully I’ll at least break even!

Compare these home-grown potatoes with the ones I harvested from the allotment just five days later.

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