Saturday, 23 May 2015

Early potatoes

Potatoes can be a very rewarding crop to grow. It starts off in the dark days of winter when you start "chitting" the 'seed' - i.e. allowing the potatoes you plant to grow little shoots.

Ridging up the early crop
When it comes to about mid February we are always keen to get the first early potatoes in the ground, upon which we have always put seaweed on the autumn before. This gives the soil a lot of nutrients and masses of organic matter. Both of these are crucial for the quality and taste of the potatoes.

There will always be a point when, despite the cool temperatures and sometimes wet and windy conditions, we're keen to just plant and get the new season crop underway. Then they sit there underground for several weeks, the roots slowly growing and shoots slowly rising up to the surface.

At some point in March little shoots will emerge and a sense of relief comes over us growers. "Spring is on the way!" we will say. However, as with this year, you can then experience several weeks of cool winds and a lack of rain. Under these conditions the potato harvest can be set back two weeks or more.

We can use horticultural fleece to bring on the crop, often with dramatic increases in growth - both for crop and weeds! However this is also frought with the peril of the spring gales, where fleece can be quickly removed from the field and deposited in the hedge!

Freshly dug early potatoes, today!
If April is a good growing month (warm with some rain) then we aim to start digging early potatoes in the first week of May. This year we were about two and a half weeks later than that, due to the cool spring.

However, most importantly, we're happy to say that they're tasting great...and are curently on sale on our veg stall! Digging the first bucket of outdoor early potatoes is really rewarding...

Monday, 4 May 2015

Dawn Chrous

One good thing about having a baby that wakes you up early is that you get to hear the beautiful Dawn Chorus at this time of year. In homage to National Dawn Chorus Day last weekend, here is a recording of birds at about 5am on St Martin's.