Tag Archives: potato

First Potatoes

potatoes

It looks like blight has arrived in North London, although rather selectively. Half of our second earlies – the Yukon Gold – were totally wiped out, which has caused me to harvest them rather earlier than I would have chosen to otherwise.

Curiously, the Ratte plants sitting right next to them appear to be completely unaffected. This might be a lesson for the future – assuming they taste as good, it’s worth choosing Ratte in future years for a demonstrated blight resistance!

As for the Yukon Gold – as you can see, it’s a pretty small harvest of just 800 grams from four plants. The extremely random weather probably hasn’t helped, and the early harvest forced by the blight only compounds the problem.

Still, we will be able to eat our first potatoes of the year this evening!

Spring Has Sprung

Potato trenches

It’s March, my house (and greenhouse) is steadily filling with seed trays as things get underway (cucumbers and bell peppers added to the list since my last post, with the tomatoes to go in as soon as I have time)

On the allotment, it’s time (probably overdue!) for the first early potatoes to go in, now that I have enough ground for them. I’m taking the same approach as last year – dig some shallow trenches and plant the potatoes at the bottom. This makes earthing up a much simpler process of just filling the trenches back in, which makes up for the fact that you have to dig the damn trenches in the first place. A little more work now means an easier life later on.

My next project will have to be clearing the rest of the potato patch in time for the main crops to go in next month; I’m also very aware that it’s getting close to the stage where a whole lot of things need planting and sowing outside, and I’ve barely made a scratch in all the clearing I need to do over there.

It turns out I’m not the only one feeling the pressure; despite it being a week day, when I went over to the allotment this morning to put the potatoes in, there were more people around than I’ve ever seen. There were people working on at least 5 plots that I could see from my own, all enjoying the sunshine and trying to get things going.

Harvest Roundup

Well, it’s been a strange year for crops – a lot of badly timed dry periods, strong winds and general climatic confusion played havoc with things like our outdoor tomatoes, confused our raspberries (which, despite being autumn varieties, managed to produce a small crop in the summer as well!) and generally stopped me being sure from one moment to the next whether it was a good year or a bad one.

Our courgettes went well, as they always do, with a steady supply of delicious yellow balls. Our sweetcorn, on the other hand, was a total disaster – as soon as the corns had formed up, some creature discovered them and proceeded to eat pretty much every single one before I had a chance to put up some protection. The damage didn’t get any worse once I’d put some fencing around it, so next year with any luck I’ll be able to keep the rotten sods off my crop!

This weekend saw the final harvest of all our potatoes; we had varied success this year, with the differences in varieties more pronounced than I’ve ever known. The Home Guards (the first batch of earlies) were nice, if fairly low yielding – however they suffered from some sort of disease that resulted in half of them having brown lesions well inside the flesh. I’ve struggled to find a definite cause for this, but Google suggests it may have been a nutrient deficiency of some sort. The upshot is that on cooking you end up throwing half the tubers away, which is hardly ideal.

The other early variety, Red Duke of York, got left in the ground much longer and as a result are big, full size potatoes – however, they (along with the maincrops) appear to have escaped the lesions that afflicted the Home Guard. The yield has been a reasonable 6kg or so – not remarkable, but better than it could have been.

Both the main crops – Rooster and Pentland Dell – yielded better (around 10kg each) and are delicious.  Interestingly, the yields varied significantly from plant to plant – they were in rows of four, and the outer two plants were consistently better yielding. This suggests that I’ve been planting them too close, so next year I’ll be giving them some more room to breath (more on that later!)

Leeks and broccoli are our remaining crops now, and should see us into the new year.