Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Potato Decisions

Well Tuesday turned out as forecast with gale force winds and heavy squally showers. We had some sunny spells too but it didn't encourage us out of doors.
The showers were heaviest through the morning and as they passed through the temperature dropped quickly into single figures. A lunchtime temperature of 8.6°C was a far cry from the 20°C we managed only a few days ago. The wind saved its worst for early evening with a gust of 28mph equalling my previous October record set on 16 October 2012.

The weather gave me a chance to sort out our potato harvesting details for this year and hopefully sort out our varieties for next year.
The most important difference in our potato growing this year was trialling some varieties under weed control fabric. This turned out to be pretty successful but I wouldn't grow our first early potatoes, to be lifted as new potatoes, under fabric again. Nothing to do with the growing method but rather lifting individual roots is tricky. For second earlies and maincrop potatoes where the crop is lifted in larger amounts and the fabric can be removed in one piece and potatoes harvested in the normal manner that wouldn't be a problem. The other surprising thing to come out of this experiment was that the potatoes grown under fabric didn't suffer any more slug damage than those grown in open ground.
Nicola and Charlotte growing under weed control Fabric on 11 July 2014
Nicola harvested from under weed control Fabric on 30 August 2014
I think the table makes it clear that we are fairly settled on our second early varieties but can’t make up our minds on first earlies. I certainly want to give Casablanca another go as it suffered from early blight this year and I think would have produced a bigger crop if not cut back in its prime. The same can be said of Winston and I might give Vales Emerald another go. I plan to grow all our first earlies in open ground without using any weed control fabric.

Our second earlies will be from Charlotte, Nicola and Nadine as they've done well again this year. 

I must give Harmony another go. It produced a crop of medium to large potatoes but it grew in the most difficult soil conditions. I don’t know why the soil in this particular bed became so unworkable but it was almost impossible to earth up the potatoes. The plants made very little top growth and I wasn't expecting any sort of crop at all. I was expecting to dig the bed over leaving the winter weather to break down the soil.
Harmony on 11 July 2014
This was the last photo we took of Harmony and I don’t remember the tops putting on much more greenery. The size of the potatoes lifted amazed me. Our final Harmony potatoes were only lifted on 17 October 2014.
First Harmony potatoes lifted from this bed on 08 October 2014
A provisional list of potato varieties for next year looks like this then:
  • First Earlies - Casablanca, Vales Emerald and Winston
  • Second Earlies - Charlotte, Nicola and Nadine
  • Maincrop - Harmony
I've still to decide how many of each variety to buy but I'm planning on growing fewer potatoes next year. I wonder if I’ll stick to my provisional list. Can anybody add a variety to change my mind?

1 comment:

  1. Choosing varieties is quite a good problem to have. I don't think I'll be growing potatoes next year. I found they took up a lot of space, and although they were lovely the yields weren't huge. Maybe a row or two will find their way in though.


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