Tuesday, January 15

Choice of roots.

Back to our seed choices for this year and moving on to our choice of root crops for next year.

We have tried various coloured beetroot in the past but somehow in spite of the fact that it ends up staining fingers red we haven't really taken to the multicoloured varieties, We've grown yellow, white and striped but this year both of our chosen varieties are red. Boltardy has been grown over and over again on our plots and will this year be joined by Crimson King.
We love home grown carrots - once eaten you just can't bring yourself to buy shop bought ones. In 2011 we had a miserable harvest and so did we buy any? No we managed without. This year fortunately we were back on track and are still digging great tasting roots. Next year we will be planting, Autumn King, Early Nantes and St Valery again. Last year St Valery was a magazine freebie that was a revelation. According to Kings catalogue it is 'probably the best known variety' but we didn't know about it 'til last year! We will be adding Chatenay Royal form Kings to this list. This is said to be an improved  version of Chatenay Red Cored. We grow a few varieties of carrot to hedge our bets just in case one variety proved to be a dud! Our method of growing carrots is here.
Parsnips are another must have winter vegetable and we will be sticking with the tried and tested Gladiator. I know lots of people complain that they have difficulty growing parsnips but we seem to do OK. The first rule is to buy fresh seed every year as unlike many seeds, parsnip seeds soon lose viability. Just in case you are interested in how we grow our parsnips click here. The ones below may not look like pretty showbench vegetables but they do brush up nicely.
That brings us to the potatoes. This year we are ordering most of our potatoes from JBA Seed Potatoes. We could wait to see what is available in local garden centres but if we do that and they don't have the varieties we want then it is generally too late to order then online.

Each year we stick with a range of tried and tested varieties and add at least one new 'experiment'. Of those varieties that we have grown for a few year we have ordered Charlotte (second early), Nadine (second early), Nicola (second early) and Winston (first early). We then have a couple of varieties that we grew last year and thought were worth another try. In this group we have ordered Swift (first early) and Vales Emerald (first early). JBA didn't offer Vales Emerald but we liked the taste so much that it was worth searching out and we found it on the DT Brown site. Vales Emerald's mum and dad are Charlotte and Maris Peer so it comes from good stock.
Our trials for this year are Harmony (early maincrop) and Marfona (early maincrop). These are both recommended to be good bakers and as we are partial to a baked potato seemed to be good choices.

We tend not to grow many maincrop potatoes as if we are hit by late blight usually the plants have produced a decent crop before they succumb and also the sooner we can lift the potatoes the less time the slugs have to gorge on them. We've never had a problem storing the early varieties.

With so many potatoes to plant we don't go in for the dig a huge trench routine, instead we plant using a trowel. This is worked for us for many years now. If you want to read more click here.

For a few extra early picking we also plant a few tubers in sacks or pots which start life in our cold greenhouse.



Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

14 comments:

  1. I really must do better with my roots this year. I've just bought a few tubers of Anya from Wilkinson's. I want to get them growing early to give me an early harvest.

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    1. Good luck with the early potatoes, Jo

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  2. I think I'm going to do my carrots in buckets & put them somewhere high, out of the way of the carrot fly. I would be happy with a few pickings, I had no carrots last year.

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    1. We just cover our carrot bed with enviromesh, Jo

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  3. I'll be growing Beetroots (2nd time) this season as I don't usually eat any, probably Boltardy. Carrots will be Early Nantes and Flyaway, getting them in as early as possible, due to the fact our allotments have had big problems with Carrot fly over the past couple of years. Parsnips definitely Gladiator. Potatoes will be Desiree, main crop only, due to last years water logging of the ground, they don't seem to be affected by many adverse conditions, including slugs. Marfona were highly recommended to me a while ago but I haven't tried them yet.

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    1. We've grown Desiree in the past, Rooko but try to lean to earlies now. As I said earlier the carrots will be covered to ward off carrot fly as that seems to work for us,

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  4. Boltardy is hard to beat, though I am also a fan of Burpees Golden, and will grow both again this year. I think I am going to give carrots a break, though will probably find myself crumbling later in the year...

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    1. Bet you at least end up with a tub of carrots, Janet

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  5. Boltardy seems to have it sewn up, but I find Cylindra works for me.

    Parsnips - boring old Tender and True can't be beat (except when it doesn't germinate like last year). Lots of core but the flavour is well, "all parsnip". Hollow Crown, Avon Resister and the Student haven't shaken this opinion. Gladiator I haven't tried yet.

    Carrots - any that grow are better than the supermarket. Again germination is the issue. The flavour premium goes for the yellow and white varieties too, if a bit more subtle.

    Spuds: You don't rely on any of my failsafe varieties: Duke of York (FE), Epicure(FE) or Rooster (MC). Rooster are the best pest free bakers we've ever had - except for this year when they were just kitchen potato sized before the blight struck. After years of trying to grow baking potatoes I had developed the belief that the bigger the potato the more likeley you were to encounter pests (slugs and wireworm)until we had a bumper crop of Rooster two years ago that was virtually pest free. They taste good too. I've seen the promised land and I will return - weather permitting.

    Thanks Sue for another contemplative post.

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    1. Potatoes are strange beasts, Mal. It's often hard to recommend varieties as they perform so differently in different soils and conditions.

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  6. I'm in agreement re the beetroot - although different colours look nice you can't beat the flavour of the red ones. Like Mal I find Cylindra really good - easy shape to use too.

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    1. I don't think we have tried Cylindra, Liz although I do remember we did grow a long beetroot once.

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  7. For some reason I haven't had much success growing beetroot. I've grown Boltardy but it often bolts on me. I must keep trying.

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    1. And Boltardy is supposed to be resistant to bolting, Kelli. It certainly can't have been down to heat and drought last year

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