Tag Archives: Kestrel

Potato prep

I mentioned in my last post that the potato bags had been moved under cover 10 days ago to allow them to dry out and the skins to harden. With so much to do this weekend I wanted to get them emptied and sorted today to see whether I had any sets or not.

I’ve entered two classes in the NVS side of the New Forest Show – white and coloured potatoes, five of each – and I’ve also entered the open side which is four of any variety. There is also a South of England Potato Championship but I don’t grow enough potatoes or enough varieties to attempt this section.

spud set up

The first thing to do was to empty the bags one by one. At this stage I’m keeping any between approx 5 and 8 ounces separate burying them in peat to keep them in the dark and fresh. Any under or over this size go into the eating box to be transferred to hessian sacks and the seed potato / plant material goes into the green recycling bin. Finally the used compost is bagged up for next year.

kestrel

Once all the bags are emptied the potatoes are lined up according to size and as I don’t grow many it’s relatively easy to put a set together. The group at the bottom is a possible open side of the show entry and the group above is the NVS entry. The Kestrel were a bit under sized in general whereas the Winston had been left too long – some of them were massive, with one weighing in at over a pound – good for jacket spuds but no good for show. That said I also managed to get a set for the NVS and a possible set for the open from the Winston as well.

winston

Arranging the Winston.

spuds in peat

Then the sets are marked up in boxes of fresh peat until Monday when they will be cleaned and wrapped in dry kitchen towel ahead of staging on Monday evening.

Potatoes aren’t really my speciality and with 20 bags grown in total it’s not many to select from but you never know we’ll see what happens on the day.

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Potatoes in at last!

There were a few problems with the delivery of the potato mix but it finally arrived last night. So after collecting my share (5 x 75 litre bags) this morning I set about filling the fifteen 17L polypots. Half will have Kestrel and half Bonnie and the leftovers will go into bags with a sieved soil/compost mix. This is the first time I’ve used a specialist potato mix and it certainly beats all the hard work of shredding/mixing a homemade version. Time will tell if it produces some decent spuds.

At the end of one of the raised beds I dug out a trench and threw in some manure, fertiliser and slug pellets. Then placed two rows of bags side-by-side and filled in the surrounding soil so it was almost up to the level of the bags. Each bag was filled with the mix and a seed potato (with 1 or 2 strong chits) was plunged to the bottom of the bag. The idea is that the potato roots grow out through the holes into the trench with the manure and fertliser and the bag fills up with spuds. I don’t bother filling the bags as they grow; starting off with a full bag is easier! Then it’s just about the watering and supporting the haulms properly so they don’t fall over and grow as vigorously as possible producing the energy to form new tubers. That’s the theory anyway!

I’ve already got Arron Pilot, Lady Christl, Charlotte, Pink Fir Apple and Salad Blue in at the allotment and Casablanca will go into the shared plot hopefully this weekend. I also planted a double row of broad beans at the allotment and have plans for a serious amount of sweetcorn and an asparagus bed. I’m really enjoying the allotment, it was so peaceful down there yesterday and I’ve now met three of my immediate plot neighbours. It’s great to have a quick chat and share a few tips.

Potato Day and a Load of Muck!

A busy day today. I took delivery of a pile of muck from a local farm, Stanleys, in the next village. He was round 10 minutes after my phone call in a JCB with a £20 load and a promise of more if I needed it. I’ll dig this in around the plot were it’s needed as it’s really well rotted stuff avoiding the areas where I’m planning to grow root veg.

After taking the girls swimming we drove up to Whitchurch for the 14th Hampshire Potato Day. Whilst they slept in the car I had a quick look round and bought my seed potatoes for the year plus a couple of bags of onions sets. There was around 150 varieties to choose from, many of which you could buy as single tubers. And good value with 2.5KG bags for between £3.50 and £4 or 15p per tuber (7 for £1), and bags of onions sets for a £1.

I bought three 2.5KG bags of Casablanca, Kestrel and Bonnie. And smaller bags of Arran Pilot, Charlotte, Lady Christl, Pink Fir Apple and Salad Blue. I’ll set them out in egg boxes later to chit.

The show varieties will be grown in 17litre polypot bags using Medwyns Potato Mix and whatever is left over will be in the ground at the shared plot or alloment. I can’t wait to get started.

Had a quick chat with Darren who was manning the NVS stand and then it was back home for the football……..

Dahlias, Carrots and Spuds

My Dahlias are now in flower. I stopped them on 5th June, just before we went on holiday, so they are decent sized plants now at 4 foot high.

One of my favourites is Shooting Star, a cream coloured semi-cactus variety.

And this one’s an unnamed variety similar to the pompom types of Dahlia.

Following Darren’s lead I thought I’d see how my carrots are doing.

And I was pleased with the results, a decent carrot 9″ long and 5″ around the shoulder. Hopefully before my local show the stump end of the carrots will have developed and they’ll have bulked out slightly. Still the best carrot I’ve ever grown, they have been my nemisis in previous years.

And finally I dug up some Kestrel potatoes that I’d planted on 2nd April. They had a lovely colour with the largest being 10oz – I’m quite pleased with their size after 13 weeks. The downside from a showing perspective is they have some faint signs of scab so I need to eliminate that next year but for the table they are a cracking spud!