Potato palavers and lessons learned

We harvested more spuds this weekend, and it seems about time to sum up what I’ve learned so far, so I can try to to improve for next year. I’ve not had the space to grow spuds before, and wanted to try growing my own this year as part of ‘the plan’ to get more from the garden.

It’s about 8 months since the seed potatoes arrived, back in late January.

I chitted them for a couple of months, which involved leaving them in a sunny spot in egg cartons, to encourage the potatoes to produce shoots.

The seed potatoes were from a ‘starter kit’ of seed potatoes from Suttons seeds, which contained about 80 seed spuds.

Rather belatedly, I researched how much space each potato plant needs, and how many potatoes each plant will produce. Planting out the entire starter kit would require about 75 square metres, and produce about 1000 potatoes. It’s all too much

I gave some away, and kept about four dozen seed potatoes.

Lesson learned: Don’t buy more seeds than you can sow!

After about two months chitting, by late March, they were happily producing shoots.

The Grand Old Duke of York

 

I planted them into bags and pots and placed them around the garden. In hindsight, putting them at the edge of the lawn by the fence was not a good plan, because they grew sideways towards the light and got kind of ‘leggy.’

Lesson learned – next time I’ll put the spuds in a sunnier spot, and support them with sticks and strings to keep them upright.

Some of the spud bags were planted with just one seed potato, others had two or three. For early varieties like Maris peer, which are usually eaten quite small, two spuds per bag seemed to work best.

Lesson learned: Plant one or two seed spuds per bag for new potatoes, and grow bigger potatoes in bigger containers.

This was the harvest from a bag planted with a single seed potato, variety ‘charlotte.’ This one has produced the biggest potatoes so far.

We needed to harvest three potato bags, containing five potato plants, to get enough for dinner for two (greedy) people.

Lesson learned: Growing in small bags produces a handful of spuds per plant.

Some of the spuds were were very tiny, although they’ve been growing for many months, and getting just enough spuds for two (greedy) people from five potato plants, seemed mildly disappointing.  Look how disappointed I am.

Things picked up when I picked some salad to accompany them. Nasturtiums, sorrel, and parsley, are abundant right now and easy to pick from containers in the veg patch.

So this weekend we had a partly homegrown dinner of haddock wrapped in bacon with homegrown thyme and sage, served with homegrown potatoes roasted with homegrown rosemary and thyme, and peas with homegrown sorrel and nasturtium.

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We’ve got another ten or so potato plants to harvest, and I sold about eight potted potato plants at Frome market in July, and although the whole potato growing process is a bit of a palaver, I think it’s worth it.

There are still the ‘later’ varieties of spuds to come, like Duke of York and King Edward, and these should produce bigger potatoes in the next few weeks.

I might try making chips from the next batch 🙂

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