• Sunday, January 29th, 2012
This is the start of a new gardening year for me as I rummage through the 2012 garden seed catalogues and plan my sowings for the year ahead. Today I went to my local garden centre and I bought some first early potato seeds, which are a variety called Swift, as well as a salad potato variey called Ratte which is highly appreciated in France. I have never grown the Swift potato variety before and I hope to get better result with this type of early crop which is supposed to be good for boiling as well as new potato.
Ratte New Potatoes
Last year I gave the International Kidney variety a try – they are the equivalent of the Jersey Royal new potatoes. Unfortunately the yield was not so good last year and this could be due to the dry weather which was not so favourable to a healthy growth of the tubers.
Last Spring I also grew a first early potato variety called Epicure, which is a typical Ayrshire potato but again the crop was not particularly outstanding.
On the other hand the main crop variety which I grew last year was Kind Edward, and the yield was good except that they did not store so well in the shed compared to previous years. The reason for this could have been the exceptionally warm autumn and winter which we experienced and this goes to show that no two years are the same with gardening. Certain crops will perform differently given certain conditions.
For now I have stored my potato seeds in a cool dark place ready for chitting in a few weeks time.
By then I will need to have finished digging the vegetable plot in time for planting my seeds in March. Speaking to fellow gardeners in East Anglia it seems that many of us are not yet done with the digging which makes me feel better.
Half way there with my muddy wellington boots and my fork I paused to contemplate the barren soil in anticipation for an abundant forthcoming harvest season.
• Wednesday, August 05th, 2009
Last week I started to harvest some of the potatoes which I planted back in March. This first harvest is of an early variety called Rocket, and I guess I should have been able to harvest them earlier, particulary since these potatoes are first earlies.
Rocket First Early Potatoes
However it looks like the hot weather which we have had early on in the year was not so beneficial my tubers which did grow as quickly as expected or produce many potatoes. Or could it be that my clay soil is to be blamed for this shortfall?
In fact I am a bit disappointed with the amount of potatoes for the first line which I have dug up. You can see the amount in the picture here.
On the good news front this type of potato seems resistant to worms and looks prestine (with a nice yellow soft skin and white flesh). I will need a bit more time to make up my mind as to its taste, so far I would describe it as smooth (ie. not floury).
The next variety which I have yet to dig up is called Ratte. I will enjoy doing a comparison between the two varieties when I have got round to picking the next line of Ratte variety potatoes.
So there’s a lot more digging to be done with the reward of a constant supply of freshly cooked organic new potatoes.
Before the rain returns I have managed to plant the rest of my potato tubers which I had chitted last month. These are for a maincrop variety called Desiree, which is one of my favourite potatoes. And as you can see on the picture below I usually tend to include my grass cuttings as well as newspaper sheets when I plant my tubers. I personally find that it helps keep the moisture in and it’s a good way of recycling some of my organic matter.
My early variety potatoes are already in and they have started to sprout shoots so I will need soon to start earthing up the shoots in order to get a bigger crop of potatoes. This also allows me to do some weeding along the way.
I should have a continuous supply of my home grown potatoes for at least 7 months of the year by planting early and maincrop varieties of potatoes. The two varieties allow me to have early new potatoes in July and then a later maincrop in September.
So it’s not bad going for all my digging efforts!
• Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
Following my last post on potatoes, I have now started to plant some of my seeds. On Saturday morning I was watching the news on BBC1 and there was a special gardening interview with the Blue Peter gardener saying that potato varieties such as Rocket grow very quickly (one of the earliest varieties) which prompted me to go ahead and plant my spuds.
It is a bit early in my opinion since we still run a chance of having some frost which will hinder growth but looking at last year’s potato planting date it was actually 3rd March when I planted my tubers (of a different variety called Lady Christl) and I remember that we had some snow for Easter but my potatoes did grow fine and the harvest was good.
At the moment I am also chitting a potato called Ratte, which is a French variety I believe and is said to have a great flavour. For maincrop I am reverting back to the desiree variety since it is one of the best potatoes I have even grown and it is disease resistant. I will plant these later this month if the weather allows it.
Over the last 4 years I have tried quite a few varieties and so far these are my favourites:
Early potato variety: Accent – tastes great as a roasted potato! Good cropper too.
Maincrop variety: Desiree – a delicious red skin potato of versatile use.
I have tried other varieties such Maris piper, Lady Christl, and Sante – a maincrop potato variety which is particularly resistant to diseases such as blight, but I am not so keen on these. May be my plot is not so suitable to these types. There are so many varieties of potatoes available for so many uses (chips, new potatoes, salad, baked…) that surely there is one to everyone’s tastes.
My top tip: I personally like to include some grass cutting and newspaper in the trench where I am planting my potato seeds. I remember reading that doing so helps retain moisture in the soil which potatoes need to grow well. This year I have not yet been able to cut the lawn but I have some compost which is a bit rough so I shall incorporate some of this as well as some chicken manure pellet fertilizer when I plant my potatoes.
See my earlier posts on growing potatoes and chitting potatoes.