Wednesday 28 April 2010

Potato Progress

Do you remember the potatoes that I planted in containers back on the 20th February? I thought I would update you on their progress. After planting three tubers to a container, they were kept in the greenhouse covered in fleece as the weather was still very cold at that time. They took a while to get going, and at one point I thought I may have lost them. Eventually they did start sprouting, and once that happened there was no stopping them. I kept adding more compost to the container as the foliage grew, this helps the plant to produce more tubers, and also prevents those tubers near the surface of the compost being exposed to light, which makes them turn green and makes them poisonous. As you can see from the photo, the container is now full with compost. I planted some containers with Sharpes Express, which is a first early, and some containers with International Kidney, which is a second early. First earlies can take as little as ten weeks to maturity. Working from the 20th February when they were planted, ten weeks would be this Saturday, however, as they took a while to get going and start to grow I will give them a few more weeks before I harvest them. The International Kidney took even longer to get going, most likely because they are a second early, and these take longer than the first earlies to maturity.

I wish I could also give some progress on potatoes planted at the allotment, but unfortunately family commitments have taken their toll, and they're not even planted yet. From reading information on planting times, it would seem that first earlies and second earlies can be planted up to the end of May, and main crop potatoes can be planted up to the middle of May, so all is not lost yet. I am determined that I will get them in eventually. It will just mean that I'm harvesting a little late this year.

The weather is supposed to be taking a turn for the worse towards the end of this week, but I'm hoping that we get some fine weather over the weekend to enable me to get to the allotment. The jobs I'm wanting to get done initially are planting potatoes, getting my peas in and building my bean wigwams.


  1. I wouldn't worry too much about when you are supposed to plant things, often they can be planted earlier or later.
    My way of thinking with a lot of planting is to look at how long it takes from sowing/planting to harvesting - if the conditions are going to be alright for that crop for that period of time, then it's still okay to sow/plant. That's my philosophy on it anyway :-)

    Have heard this morning that the weather is about to turn, must check it out in a while. Hope you get some time at the allotment this weekend as planned.

  2. I usually allow 12 weeks for first earlies and 14 for second. They bulk up so much in the last few weeks that I like to give them a decent chance. I also allow a bit longer for those planted in tubs in the greenhouse. They get a much slower start.
    The ones you plant late will certainly get off to a flying start. Don't worry too much.

  3. I am growing pototoes for the first time as I got some free from a magazine offer. I have been earthing them up every day and this morning they have reached the top of the bag - getting quite excited now. Wish I could remember what variety they are though. One of my best childhood memories is unearthing potatoes in my Gran's walled garden.

  4. I believe that for potatoes May is the perfect planting time. If soil is too wet they just rotten.
    Potatoes look very healthy. I always thought that they need more space to grow...

  5. I agree, don't panic about the potatoes up the allotment, there's still time.

  6. That's a great tip for early potatoes. You could have been eating new potatoes in April if we'd not had such a long cold winter. Amazing!

    I have seriously overdone my potato order. I have already planted about 30 metres worth and that is not even half of them. I'll be planting the rest of them this weekend if my back can stand it.

  7. Thanks for the heads up on the weather - I've got to start to plant up all our potatoes soon. I was going to make a start this weekend, hopefully with the help of some of the children. I'm trying to beat the rain and get as much done as I can! I'm a first time potato grower like Alex T, above, so will watch your progress with interest. Caro x

  8. I do hope it does rain, it's looking like a desert at my plot with huge cracks in the ground like there has been an earthquake in antland !

  9. The spuds look great.. have a greenhouse now so I may try this next year. I have heard how bad the weather is going to be as well but I am praying the met office are wrong so I can get to the allotment...i will keep my fingers crossed for the both of us!

  10. Hi Jo, what a great idea for early potatoes. I might be copying next year if you have success! All looking good so far. I still have some poes to go in at the allotment,and some that are in to earth up but finding the time this week is hard...I suppose I should really be there now instead of sat at the computer!

  11. typical Bank Holiday weather forecast! Hopefully there will be some gaps in the rain. Your spuds have come on well, the ones in the plot are just poking through and I've still got some on the windowsill to go into bags when I get a chance!

  12. I remember when you put yours in - I wish I remembered when I did mine! I have sprouting leaves. Do I need to totally cover them with compost? Never grown potatoes in pots before...advice please!

  13. Firstly...Hellloooooooooo!!! Lovely to meet you.

    Secondly...NOOOOOOOOOOooooo I don't want rain!

    Finally... Someone mention Bank holiday? This weekend, Oh i'm such a Dolly Day Dream, I forgot! xxx

  14. They look great. I've got two lots of first earlies in potato sacks but can't for the life of me recall exactly when I planted them - so not sure when to harvest them!
    Got some second earlies and maincrop to go in this weekend - must remember to write the date down!

  15. Apart from a few first earlies a friend, who's a longtime gardener, plants all his potatoes in early May and they always grow well!
    The ones in your photo look like they're doing well.
    Have a good weekend, and happy plotting! Flighty xx

  16. Ours in potato bags are growing well too - no signs yet of the ones planted on the plot.

  17. Your potatoes look great Jo - lovely healthy foliage. You always inspire me. I think I mentioned before that I would attempt to grow potatoes in a pot or potato bag but I just haven't got around to it, as you say though, its not too late ..

    I'm actually looking forward to some rain as its like a desert here in East Anglia! Hope its the nice light showery 'sort' so we can still enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend!


  18. That's a great way of looking at it, Dawn. So long as they go in over the next couple of weeks, they should be fine then. It's been a bit dull here over the past couple of days, but still no rain. I'm sure that will come at the weekend when I need to be busy.

    I always allow extra time with potatoes too, Vegetable Heaven, especially those in containers. I'm always anxious to try the first new potatoes of the season though.

    It's exciting digging up those first potatoes, Alex T. You never quite know how they've done, or if there's anything there for you to harvest. They don't usually disappoint though, and the taste of home grown is amazing.

    The traditional day to plant first early potatoes is Good Friday, Vrtlarica, which as you know, changes from year to year, so I'm rather late with those this year. It's never a good idea to plant into wet ground though, or as you say, the potatoes will rot.

    I'm going to try and get them in this weekend, Mark N. Well, that's if the weather allows. It's rather overcast today, but still no rain, yet.

    Planting potatoes in containers is a great way of getting an early harvest, Phil. This year they took quite a while to get going as it was so cold, but other years they started growing as soon as they were planted. It's always good to get an early harvest. Hope your back holds out for some more planting this weekend. It's hard to guage how many potatoes you need, but you should have a better idea next year.

    I'm sure the children will enjoy helping with the potato planting, Caro. You know what they say, many hands make light work.

    I think we could all do with some rain, Elizabeth. I just wish it would get it out of the way today and tomorrow, or overnight, rather than at the weekend when I need to be at the allotment.

    The Met Office could very well be wrong, Tanya, just look at the summer they predicted last year. I'm going to use my greenhouse to grow some potatoes for Christmas dinner again this year, you could have a go at that too now you have a greenhouse.

    I've grown potatoes in containers the last few years, Ninasgardeningnotebook. They've always done well for me. This year they took a lot longer to get going, so I thought I might have lost them, but they've come on really well.

  19. I seriously hope there's some gaps in the rain, Damo, I really do need to get to the allotment. Hope you find the time to get your own potatoes into bags.

    Don't totally cover the leaves, Countrymummy. You can cover most of them, but leave a few poking out. As they continue to grow, keep adding more compost until you reach the top of the container. Then just leave them to continue growing, and don't forget to give them plenty of water. Containers dry out much quicker than the ground, so they must be watered regularly.

    Thank you for visiting, Claire, and thank you for leaving a comment. As gardeners, I think we do need some rain, but it would be nice if it would come overnight. What a bonus, you wasn't expecting a Bank Holiday so it must be a nice surprise for you.

    Thanks for visiting, Jules. Some potatoes flower before they're ready to harvest, but not all do. If you've planted varieties which do flower, this may give you some indication of when they're ready to harvest.

    Thanks, Flighty, that's put my mind at rest. After a slow start, the container planted potatoes really took off. I'm looking forward to harvesting them now.

    I used to grow potatoes in containers before I got my allotment, Green Lane Allotments. When I got the allotment, I decided to carry on planting some in containers to give me an early harvest. Glad to hear that your's are doing well too.

    Did you buy any tubers, Jeanne? If not, they're still selling them in Wilkinson's (if you've got one local) or the pound shops. Home grown really do taste delicious covered in butter and mint. I wish the rain would come overnight, so that we can still take our Bank Holiday trips over the weekend, or in my case, get on with the many jobs I need to at the allotment.

  20. Jo, As I type, its raining, and won't stop now until after the Bank! I've not planted mine either, so we can plant in the rain over the weekend. Think I've got main crop... Something to look forward too...?

  21. Isn't it typical that the only chance some of us get to go up to our plots (and have 3 days off with loved ones) and it promises to rain!

    I know we need the rain but part of me wishes it wouldn't (or perhaps it could rain just at night?)

  22. I don't grow potatoes, but I enjoyed this post because your knowledge, Jo, always amazes me. Sorry about the rain coming during bank holiday. It's cool and windy here.

  23. Those look really healthy and green! I find it really difficult to keep them moist in containers because they are such greedy feeders. You might try a tray under the pot to keep them moist.

  24. The have made good growth Jo - you must be looking forward to eating them. Hope you have made it down to the lottie since writing this post but worry not - the plants don't read the books :)

  25. Sunday is supposed to be OK, although not that warm. Hopefully you might be able to get something done anyway. I think the rain has been welcome - the ground has been so dry.

  26. I am planting mine in old chuck feed bags and so far have planted only 2 of approx 10. I dont think it is too late. We had a really hard frost here last night.

  27. It wasn't a bad bank holiday weekend after all, Cat. I did manage to get my earlies planted, I hope you managed to get your's in too.

    We had a good downpour overnight on Friday, Deb. The weekend here was quite good, certainly not as forcast, I hope it was good where you are too.

    Thank you for saying that, Pamela, but I'm really still learning. The weather over the bank holiday didn't turn out as predicted, so I managed to get some time at the allotment.

    I've never thought about standing the containers in anything, Matron. I do tend to water them often though, and they don't seem to suffer.

    I have managed to get to the lottie over the weekend, Anna. I'm not quite so panicky now that I've got my earlies planted. I do really enjoy the first potatoes of the season, smothered in butter and mint.

    We had a good downpour overnight on Friday, Mark. Other than that, there hasn't been much rain at all. It's good that I had the weather to get down to the allotment, but as you say, the ground is rather dry.

    I don't really know why I was panicking, Claire. It seems that lots of people still have their potatoes to plant too.


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