Grow your own - Dig for Victory - Earth up your Potatoes

Radio 4 is on. It's the Shipping Forecast. I doubt Frome will get a mention but I don't think that's going to matter. The most commonly used word that Susan says is either showers or rain. And I can tell that by simply sticking my head out of the back door!


Rain has stopped play. The job we had planned for today has been put back by a week at the suggestion of our customer - who really wants to weed and lay bark in the rain? - so we're catching up a bit.


One of the jobs we completed over the weekend was earthing up our potatoes. This is what they looked like before we did it. The haulm - the stem part of our potatoes - was a few inches tall so we knew that now was the time to get on with the job.


You can see the International Kidneys that we have in the plot at the allotment on the left, and on the right the ones that we're growing in the old galvanised water tank at home.


We adopted two approaches.


  1. For the potatoes in the ground we used a spade to loosen the soil between the rows and then drew that up and carefully over the haulm. The weather forecast told us that rain was imminent so rather than flood the valleys between the ridges we simply sat back and waited - and today and tomorrow the potatoes will get all the water they need for now!

  2. For the potatoes in the tank we simply opened another bag of peat free compost and carefully covered the growth. Again we didn't water them - the rain can do that and make life a little easier for us! We would have done the same if we'd been growing them in sacks.


Now they look like this:



We earth up our potatoes so the length of the underground stems will grow longer, and with that bear a greater number of potatoes. We know that potatoes can be hungry and thirsty plants so we make sure that we water them - responsibly (at the allotment we have two 1000 litre tanks that we use to harvest rain) - and we add a drop of our own seaweed fertiliser to give them some nourishment. Watering them helps swell the tubers and should give us a better crop.


When they start to poke through again we'll earth them up again - to hopefully get even longer underground stems and an even greater crop.


Justin and Martha are now on. 30 minutes with a Lapsang Souchong to write a potato update. Not bad. And it's still raining. Good for the potatoes, and anything else you might be growing.

Enjoy the rain!


Alistair


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The Trug & Lettuce

Frome

Somerset

BA11 1LX

trug & lettuce

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