February 1

Early, early potatoes

This year I am going to see how early I can harvest potatoes and how late I can harvest them. The reason is that I found a bag of potatoes sprouting and rotting in the back of the garden shed that I had forgotten about and it started me off wondering whether I could harvest potatoes all year round.

I know harvesting potatoes late is a ‘thing’ because many  people grow new potatoes to harvest for Christmas day or around that time. I wonder how long you could leave them in the ground and harvest them – end of January?

I have looked around to see what others are doing in this area and the answer is quite a lot.

The earliest potatoes are grown in Cornwall and Jersey on south facing slopes and so if I want early earlies, I need to see if I can mimic these conditions which I can in my greenhouse and polytunnel. I am going to grow them in pots so that I can move them in and out of the polytunnel but will grow 2 Charlotte and 2 Sarpo Mira in the polytunnel and greenhouse just to see whether pots or undercover is best. The green house is at home so those plants may well get more attention as they will be the ones nearest to me and that I will see most days.

Once they are ready, I will cut off the haulms and store the pots outside ready to harvest when I need them.

I also want to grow my own sweet potato slips so am going to give the following video a try.

I have grown sweet potatoes before in the polytunnel and will do so again this year. I have always had mixed results but if the year is like last year, there should be enough sunshine for a good crop.  Which? recommend Beauregard, Beauregard Improved and Carolina Ruby.

How are you growing your potatoes this year?

February 13

Harvest Monday 12/02/18

Stored vegetables

We grew a lot of winter squash this year; Crown Prince, Waltham Butternut  and Hunter – a type of butternut.

Here they are after we had harvested them in October . As you can see, the bench is quite full. We ate the Butternut squash first because they do not last as long as the Crown Prince which will still be going strong in May.  There were five Crown Prince in total and they all grew on one plant. Normally I have five plants each with one squash on so I do put the vigour of the one and only plant that survived the slugs down to no-dig. I have also just noticed that there is an Uchiki Kuri, the bright orange one, in there as well.

 

This is what the bench looks like today. Just the Crown Prince to go and they are probably the best-tasting of all of them.

New no-dig bed

I have created  a new bed for some squash this year on a slight slope. Being a no-dig gardener, I have put cardboard down first, watered it, and then manure and home-made compost on top  and covered it with black plastic that lets the rain through.  A new bed in 15 minutes. I reckon I will get three squash plants in it.

It is not essential to put compost on top of the manure but I have found that plants seemed to do better in that mix rather than just compost or just manure.  That could be more about my compost and manure than anything else. The compost I have is full of weed seed because it was made before I got on top of the weeds which is why I covered the bed with black plastic. Again, it isn’t essential to do this but beds that I haven’t covered, where I used my compost, do have weeds growing in them. I need to get the hoe out!

I am as desperate as everyone else to start sowing seeds but the weather is so cold at the moment.  I might sow some chilli seeds in a propagator on the kitchen windowsill but that is all until this cold snap disappears.

Multi-sown seeds

I really enjoyed Charles Dowding’s latest video about growing multi-sown module leeks. He certainly seems to grow a lot in a small space which is what I want to do. Leeks are one of the seeds I will be sowing soon.  I have Musselburgh which were free with the magazine Kitchen Garden and are ready from October onwards; Tadorna, which I have not grown before,  are ready in December  and Blue Solaise which are ready from November onwards.  With these three, I should be able to have leeks throughout the winter and into the early spring. I planted 50 leeks last year and they are just about to run out now so I would say I need another 20 at least.

Harvest

And so to the harvest. I really can’t show kale again which doesn’t leave much to show this week.  I do have large clumps of parsley in the polytunnel and so a salad of parsley, cucumber and tomatoes all chopped really small would go well with my chicken tagine tonight.  I know people talk about the hungry gap starting in April/May but mine seems to start now!  I do still have a freezer half-full of blackberries, raspberries and black currants which we eat for breakfast every morning.

What is the best fruit or vegetable you have stored over winter?

February 26

10 a day

With all the talk in the news recently about increasing our fruit and veg intake to 10 a day, a friend asked me if I could do that if I only had the veg on my plots.Well here goes:

There is spring cabbage, flat-leaf parsley, turnips, leeks, chard, flower sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, sprouts and red Russian kale. I didn’t take photos of the cavalo nero and beetroot. So yes I do have 10 things I could eat now but I might end up looking like a brassica!