Saturday, January 10

Which potatoes and how to grow them?

It's time to turn our attention to the season ahead. The gardening season always starts for me when the seeds catalogues have been pored over, choices made and the orders have been sent off.

Generally the first is to think backwards and consider what went well and not so well in the season just gone. Then it's a case of considering what lessons have been learned and what changes we need to make.

First of all let's focus on potatoes.

Last year's harvest was as follows ( the 2 indicates 2 packs of these varieties):

We had already decided that Rocket wasn't going to feature on this year's list as we were disappointed by it's performance last year. It may not have been one of our favourites but was certainly a favourite of the slugs and wireworm. Winston growing alongside it didn't suffer anything like as much damage even though it tastes good to us.

We also decided that we probably planted a few too many potatoes so we have cut down slightly and settled on the following:

We find Nicola, Nadine and Charlotte to be reliable performers. Winston was chosen for taste and Casablanca is to be given a second chance. New to us this year is Foremost.

So that is the what and now the how. Last year we experimented by growing some potatoes under weed control fabric. We planted two lots if potatoes of the same variety at the same time as as close as possible to one another. One lot was grown our usual way.
The second lot was planted through weed control fabric and 'earthed up' with straw.
As far as growth was concerned there was no discernible difference until early blight struck, We tried to control its spread but potatoes grown 'normally' were far more badly affected than those grown under fabric. The beds were next to one another but whether the growing methods made a difference is hard to say but it did mean that we couldn't compare the yields.
We planted a second lot of potatoes under weed control fabric in the bed that had been 'cleared' of an ancient blackberry.
Despite the weed control bindweed escaped through the planting holes and tried to smother the tops so we didn't have hope of a crop but we were pleasantly surprised. In the photo below the white roots are bindweed roots. We had wondered whether this method of growing would result in more slug damage. We found that potatoes growing on top of the earth were quite badly nibbled but those below ground were more or less undamaged.  It's almost as if those on top are sacrificial.



So will we plant potatoes through weed control fabric again? Yes and no. The fabric was a hindrance when digging early potatoes where you want to dig just a root at a time but this isn't a problem when digging up the whole bed. 

So the earlies will be grown without and the others with!


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

16 comments:

  1. I'm also actively considering which potatoes to grow this year. I'm going to get mine at the end of this month at the Hampshire Potato Day I attended last year. I was really impressed by the huge range of varieties available, and you can buy tubers individually so it is easy to try some new ones without committing lots of money. Charlotte, Nicola and PFA will almost certainly be on my list again. Better look back at my posts from last year to re-assess the performance of the ones I grew - just like you have done.

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    1. It seems that the quality of what is on offer at potato days is variable, Mark - you seem to have a good one

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  2. Nadine looks like a clear winner, it's one that my plot neighbour recommended to me as well. I'm not intending to grow potatoes this year because of lack of space. It's a shame, but there are other things that I'd like to squeeze in. I'll be interested to see how next year's crop does for you, and whether Nadine is still the top banana.

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  3. I grow all my potatoes in pots but posts like this really interest me. Not bothering with a potato day after last years disastrous visit, I'm hoping the garden centre is doing the fill a pot with different varieties again.

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    1. Pity isn't it, Jo that Mark's potato day was so good and yours not,

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  4. It's always worth trying new methods of growing things. I've ordered my Arran Pilot from the allotment shop but they don't do Anya, I'm hoping I can pick some up somewhere else. I grew Pink Fir Apple too last year to try them against the Anya but Anya won for me hands down.

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    1. We've had Anya in the past, Jo it's a good flavour

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  5. I had such good results with my purples last year that I'm hoping to have enough in the spring to replant.

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    1. We've never grown a purple variety tpals.

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  6. Hi Sue.All the girls name potatoes seem to be good and I'll grow some of them this year. In recent years I haven't been quick enough off the mark to get Charlottes before they're sold out.
    My favourite potato for flavour is Salad Blue maincrop but success in 2013 turned to failure in 2014 with most tubers riddled with slugs and wireworm.
    This year I'm going to try some in pots at home using clean compost ,while over on the allotment it will probably be Premiere,Charlotte/Nadine/Nicola and Blue Kestrel and will try to limit them to single or double rows between other plant groups for damage limitation.

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    1. So the nasties also love your favourite . David, I can only think of one boy potato and that is King Edward,

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  7. I think Charlottes are always a good reliable spud, I was amazed this week to find a shedload of taters still in my veggie patch that I'd missed! You did have a great potato year for sure!xxx

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    1. Everyone seems to like Charlotte, Dina. She's a popular lady.

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  8. I never planted potatoes before! Your harvest is really awesome!

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    1. Do potatoes grow well in your climate Malar?

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