If you haven’t already now’s the time to buy your seed potatoes and set them out to chit. I ordered mine from JBA Potatoes – you should always buy them from a reputable seed potato merchant.
I’m growing 3 varieties this year – Winston a first early and Kestrel & Charlotte which are second earlies. This should mean they’re lifted before any chance of blight later in the summer. The Winston and Kestrel are dual-purpose – I’ll be entering them in the New Forest Show at the end of July all being well to cover the white and coloured potato categories and they’re both tried and tested good eaters that we enjoy. Some people don’t like Winston in particular but I think they’re fine. For a white potato they are the only one to consider for the show bench. With coloured potatoes there are a few good showing varieties – Kestrel, Bonnie, Blue Belle and Amour for example all of which are good eaters. Finally Charlotte are my favourite potato, the best salad spud in my opinion.
The seed potatoes go into cold water mixed with Milton baby sterilising fluid. The idea here is to protect the new crop against any surface diseases that may be on the seed potato. I leave them in for 48 hours before drying off and setting them out to chit.
Find an area with plenty of natural light that is free from frost. I use our conservatory which is cold in winter but always above freezing and there’s loads of windowsill space which fills up quickly in Spring. Set them out in egg boxes or seed trays so the bottom-end (the part that was attached to the old plant) is facing downwards – the potato will sprout from the top-end. By chitting before planting you’re getting a head start under protected conditions. I will plant out in mid-March.
I helped out on the Hampshire DA NVS stand at the Hampshire Potato Day in Whitchurch today. We had a really good day selling merchandise, seeds and plants plus quite a few tickets for our vegetable growing seminar in March (more on that in a later post). The organisers said the numbers were way down this year which is a shame, I guess this may be a result of the poor growing conditions last year, but there was still around 1200 people through the doors over the two days.
This year’s purchases were first early Winston, second early Kestrel and main crop Amour. With a bag of Charlotte and a few Red Emmalie (red flesh), a bag of onions sets (Stuggart Giant), Broad Bean seeds (Longfellow – reselected by our Chairman) Dwarf Bean Prince and Pea Show Perfection.
Thankfully all the snow has gone now. This is what it was like last Friday in the village.
Next job is to set the potatoes out to chit and then start shredding the 8 75-litre bags of F2S compost I have. Early season preparations are now well and truly underway!!
With the plot frozen solid I’ve been a little bit stuck for jobs to do over the last couple of weeks so it was an ideal opportunity to set the seed potatoes out to to chit in the cold conservatory (last year I started them 3 weeks earlier). It’s great to think that in a few months time they’ll be providing endless meals for us.
The main varieties I’ve gone for this year are Casablanca, Kestrel and Bonnie. I’m hoping to have a few to select for the show bench but they’re also good eaters. Also there’s a few tubers of Arran Pilot, Pink Fir Apple, Lady Christl, Charlotte and a couple of Salad Blues to try out. Hopefully a good selection, time will tell having only grown Kestrel, Charlotte and Lady Christl before. They were all purchased at the Hampshire Potato Day from a huge selection of seed potatoes on offer.
I’m hoping the weather will turn mild again in the next couple of weeks so I can get the parsnips underway followed by the long carrots. I’m sitting on my hands as far as seed sowing is concerned and no doubt March will be a frenzy of activity on that front. In previous years I would have sowed a fair amount already but I’m learning to be patient. Fingers crossed for a nice, mild spring!
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……..
Posted in Grow Veg
Tagged Arran Pilot, Bonnie, Casablanca, charity, Hampshire Potato Day, Kestrel, Lady Christl, Pink Fir Apple, Potato Day, Potatoes, Salad Blue, Seed potatoes, Whitchurch
UKVG readers will know that I have been seeking their advice on what seed potatoes to purchase this year.
Last year I visited the Hampshire Potato Day at Whitchurch which was excellent with 100s of varieties of potatoes plus onion sets, shallots, garlic and various stalls selling seeds etc. Well worth a trip and I shall be popping down there again on Saturday 29th January. For more info visit their site.
Then I started looking for other events locally and was amazed to find they are popping up all over the place – here’s a list of ones that I can reach within a 40 minute drive for example.
And the great thing about them is I can buy single tubers (were normally from seed companies you have to buy at least 10) so I can try out new varieties and have a greater selection.
So here’s what I’m going for:
First Early – Arran Pilot
Second Early – Charlotte
Maincrop – Pink Fir Apple
I will also be growing Kestrel and Blue Belle for show (and eating) as well as Winston (as I’ve heard some people like the taste so I thought I’d give it a try as it’s the no1 white potato on the showbench as well). Plus a few other single tuber purchases that take my fancy.
Most will be grown in 17 litre polypots that was quite successful last year although it’s important to keep up with the watering.
Well let me know what you think and if you are visiting a Potato Day near you that you can recommend.
We went up to the Hampshire Potato Day at Whitchurch and I couldn’t believe how many people were there. The place was packed full of people buying seed potatoes by the sackful. Not sure how much Rach and the girls enjoyed it but I had a good hour wandering around looking at the different types of potatoes (made it up to them with a pub lunch afterwards). Had a chat with Darren who was helping out on the NVS stall and he signed me up for a years membership and I bought some Stenna Runner Bean seeds (more seeds!). Then it was down to the business of selecting some spuds (as if I haven’t got enough already!).
After a word with one of the chaps filling the baskets with more nets of seed potatoes I went for Rubesse, a lovely coloured skinned potato that apparently easily outcrops Desiree. And from the JBA rack a packet of NVS Amour which looked great in the photo.
Chloe and Emily were given a free potato each so they’ll have their own little bags to grow them in. Their faces lit up when they received their gift but I quickly took them when Emily was just about to take a bite out of hers!
I’ll start chitting my earlies in a week which will be 6 weeks before I plan to get them out on the plot in mid-March. Can’t wait, that’s when the season really gets underway!
For a list of February jobs check out the Horticultural Society Blog here and please add anything I’ve missed as a comment.
Hope you’re all having a productive weekend!!