Monday 24 October 2011

They Won't See Us Through Winter

Hubby went to the allotment today and has now dug up the maincrop potatoes - Maris Piper. I wasn't expecting great things from them for a number of reasons, it was late when they were planted, the dry summer wasn't ideal and there wasn't much top growth. All things considered, I still wasn't quite prepared for the small amount which hubby brought home with him, just a little under ten pounds. The seed potatoes cost more than I could buy ten pounds of potatoes for in the greengrocers. There were a few more than these but they had been eaten, and some of the plants didn't have anything underneath them at all. I've made the decision that I'm not going to grow potatoes at the allotment next year. Instead, I will grow early potatoes in containers at home, as I did this year, and the potato bed at the allotment will still be kept in my four year rotation plan but instead of having potatoes planted in it, it will have sweetcorn and squash.

I was really pleased with how my cherry tree performed this year, we harvested plenty of cherries from it, more than I ever expected really as it's grown in a container and I thought that might prevent it from producing so well. Now that I've seen how well it's done, I'm happy to try another fruit tree in a container. I thought this time I might try an apple tree. There's so many varieties to choose from so I've got lots of research to do, but it's a fruit which we all like so it makes sense to have a go at growing our own. I know a container grown tree won't produce a huge crop, but it will be good to have a few home grown apples to eat.

The beans at the allotment have finally finished producing now. They've done so well this year and there's plenty in the freezer for the coming weeks. It was worth making a late sowing as we got a late harvest, though we may have sown them a little too late had it not been for the heatwave we got at the end of September. All that's left at the allotment now is parsnips, leeks and brassicas.


  1. How disappointing for you re: the potatoes. But more than made up by the success with the cherries and green beans - brilliant!
    Never realised it was worth while growing a fruit tree in a container so thanks for sharing that.
    Gill xx

  2. You mustn't be too harsh on the poor spuds! Some years one thing does well (beans this year) while other don't, but next year could be completely different. However, I am a great fan of container-grown potatoes, which usually do well for me, because it's easier to give them the care they need - like lots of water.

  3. I feel the same about maincrops... There's no point wasting good land on such inexpensive veggies.

  4. I don't bother with maincrop potatoes now. They always got blight or eelworm, new ones are lovely though :)

  5. Our earlies were just like this. But the maincrop came good! I tried Highland Burgundy as a novelty and they romped away. Rather fed up with red mash now.

    It's been an odd year!

  6. I thought your picture was a pile of pebbles at first - I had the same problem with maincrop - not a good year.

  7. I sympathise, and think that you'll be doing the right thing for next year.
    Think about trying second earlies Charlotte and Kestrel when you grow them on the plot again as both are excellent varieties with few problems, have good yields and store well. Flighty xx

  8. If you buy an apple Jo make sure it is self pollinating - lots needs another variety to pollinate them and some even need two other varieties. Obviously they also need to flower at the same time. Most suppliers will be able to point you in the right direction

  9. Flighty has a good point - I grew Charlotte potatoes in a potato bag this year and they did very well. I had some spare soil between the fruit trees last year and planted spuds which did well, and left behind some wonderfully friable soil, other than that perk, like you, I think I could almost do better in the shops!

  10. I just did Charlotte potatoes for salad potatoes. We had a really good crop and enough from a fairly small patch to feed us for 2 months. I think maincrops take up too much space and I'd be worried about blight. I surprised to hear about your cherry. Cherries are my favourite fruit and I would love a fruit tree but don't have the space. What size pot is it in and what variety is it? I'm very tempted to give it a try.

  11. Oh Jo what a shame about your spuds - it can be either be so exciting or most disappointing when you lift underground crops. You never know until the last moment. Sounds as if the cherries put more of a smile on your face. I am tempted to plant a cherry but am not sure whether the birds would get them before I did.

  12. I did not know that we can grow cherry in pots. Glad to hear it does well in container. Having fresh apple to pick sounds wonderful!

  13. I had a feeling that there wasn't going to be a good crop of potatoes as there wasn't much foliage, Gill. I didn't know how the cherry tree would do in a container so I'm really pleased with the results.

    I hear what you're saying Mark, though I agree with you that it's easy to look after container grown potatoes so I think that's the way we'll go from now on.

    That's a good way of looking at it, Tanya. I much prefer the taste of home grown new potatoes anyway, so I think we'll concentrate on those next year.

    I agree about new potatoes, Serendipity. I'll definitely grow those next year but I'm giving up on maincrop, like you.

    It's been a very odd year, Mal. Highland Burgundy sound unusual, though the red mash sounds rather disturbing.

    Looking back at the photo, I can see them as pebbles too, Elaine. Sorry to hear that your maincrop failed too. I wonder if you're going to give them another go next year.

    Thanks for the recommendations, Flighty. I've grown both Charlotte and Kestrel before, Charlotte did well for me, so I'll bear them in mind again next time.

    Thanks for the tip, Sue. I know my neighbour has several apple trees in her garden, but I don't know the varieties so I can't rely on those. I'll definitely have to make sure that I get a self pollinating variety.

    Potatoes breaking up the soil is a great benefit of growing them, Caro, especially on a new allotment. It's one of the reasons I have continued to grow maincrops, but they've done their job now so they've had it. It's back to containers for me from now on.

    My cherry is grown in a half barrel and it's a Stella, Wellywoman. If you do decide to get one to grow in a container, make sure that you buy one which is grafted on dwarf rootstock. I'd definitely give one a try, mine did really well this year, though it's three years old now.

    The birds were contiually after my cherries, Anna. As the tree is grown in a container, it's small enough to net, though as I just draped some netting over the top of the tree the birds found a way to stand underneath and fly vertically right up in to the tree under the netting. It was funny to watch. I'll have to make sure I tie the netting on next year.

    I was very surprised how many cherries my tree produced, Malay-Kadazan girl. It would be nice to have home grown apples to eat too.

  14. I finally got my potatoes dug up and didn't have the greatest crop wither...a few more than you though but I did have two varieties to harvest. Hope we both have better luck next year!!

  15. I'm giving main crop a miss next year, Tanya. I'm always at the last minute planting them, and then rushing to get them out of the ground at the end of the season. I'll continue with earlies in containers, they did really well again this year.


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