My new seed potatoes arrived last week and are happily chitting in the kitchen, once they have a few shoots, I plan to plant them in the greenhouse in bags and hope we don’t get any late frosts, before moving them outside later in the year, when things have warmed up for good. I couldn’t remember exactly what I’d ordered (as it was back in October) but this is what came:
- Potato ‘Charlotte’ – Truly sensational flavour whether eaten hot, smothered in butter, or cold in a tasty salad niçoise.
- Potato ‘Maris Peer’ – Favoured by restaurants and gardeners alike as the firm creamy yellow fleshed tubers retain their colour and have a superb flavour, without disintegrating.
- Potato ‘Rocket’ – A very early bulking and heavy cropping variety producing almost round, white skinned and fleshed tubers. First early.
The above descriptions are borrowed from Thompson & Morgan where I bought them as a ‘Potatoes for Planters Collection’ so I get 5 of each tuber plus I added an extra 10 of the ‘Charlotte’ variety as they are my very favourite. I ordered the tubers only with no additional planting bags, following last years trials I am opting for putting all my potatoes in 14 litres exhibitor bags (1 tuber per bag), which I have plenty of.
The first year of growing, I planted my potatoes in large potato barrels, the ones I used had 5 tubers per barrel and the sides at the bottom could be lifted in order to remove a few potatoes at a time. It worked fine, but I got bored of trying to push the soil back in to the hole and get the sides back on each time we wanted to eat a meals worth and eventually you just have to turn the lot out, which left us overwhelmed and guilty for not eating them direct out of the soil, when they are ay their best. I used these planters in year 2 as well.
Next I moved onto large bags (below, left) which came with last years gourmet potato planters collection, also for planting 5 tubers per bag (although I planted 4). In this case you ‘grub’ your hand down the sides and attempt to pull a few potatoes out at a time as you need them. Again, not ideal.
I also experimented with a few of the 14 litre exhibitor bags (above, right), which are essentially a small heavy duty black bag with holes in the bottom. As with the other planting bags you place the tuber (once chitted on a sunny windowsill to produce a few green shoots) on top of about 3 inches of soil (I use John Innes 2 or 3). You then cover the tuber with soil and keep topping up as the plants grow, covering the stems but leaving the top leaves poking out, until the bag is full.
My main reasons for opting for the single tuber bags is because it produces the perfect amount for a family meal, the boys love turning the bag out and pulling out the potatoes and none get wasted. The down side is they look a bit ugly and you have to buy the soil to fill them (which, of course, I have to do with all my planters) but as I don’t have space in my raised beds for this crop, I’m happy with that sacrifice.
Finally, I wanted to share this photo, apart from my ravishing ‘slippers’ I found these very edible potatoes when I turned out a bag that has spent the entire of winter stuck behind the greenhouse. It was shoved there late last year, long after the foliage had died off and we’d struggled to eat all the ready crops, I think I put it there out of guilt, meaning to eat them at some point but forgot. I’m amazed that they were still in perfect order after an entire winter outdoors, but there you go, my garden always surprises me.