Planting First Early Potatoes

It’s been a working week since Easter Monday which means that’s been five days since my first early potatoes went into the bags that will be their home until Summer. At the minute they are in our garden at home as I am a bit worried that the weather is still a bit inhospitable for tiny spuds. Our garden at home is a yard that is almost entirely enclosed by walls, shrubbery and fences therefore making it a lot less exposed than our hillside allotment. Once the risk of frost passes they will most likely be transferred to the allotment as it is a lot sunnier than the yard, thankfully the bags seems pretty tough and have handles so this shouldn’t be too difficult.

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Potato bags in the yard at home, being kept company by the salad bed

I chose to do the first early potatoes in bags rather than in the ground. I have dreams bigger than my square footage so, above anything else, space is being carefully doled out depending on my favourite things to eat  and although I do love potatoes in all their cooked forms I wasn’t originally intending on growing them because the space that would be lost to them ultimately just didn’t seem quite worth it. Well, somewhere between then and now I “accidentally” bought some seed potatoes and figured I either needed to sacrifice something else to fit them in OR look for an alternative. When I started reading about potatoes in containers I was sold, getting delicious spuds AND keeping my soil space – what more could a girl want?!

The variety that I chose and planted is Pentland Javelin. I started chitting them way back in the second week of February and they had a good 1 1/2 inches of growth by the time they were planted out. When looking at first potato varieties I primarily wanted one that works well as a salad potato, that you don’t normally find in the shops and that is well rated when it came to tasting. I did a bit of digging around and Pentland Javelin consistently kept coming up as exactly what I was looking  for, I was still unsure whether I even wanted to grow potatoes but fate (and a garden centre sale) intervened and now there are six bags containing 2-3 seed potatoes each huddled in the corner of the yard and one nervous spud-mother just praying that they grow.

Happy New Year, Happy New Start

Well hello and welcome back, it’s been a while. So here we are, poised at the start of 2016, the first week is over and I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the year ahead and look back at the lessons learned since getting the keys to my little half plot last June.

Firstly, the biggest lesson that I took away from last year is that I completely failed at time management. In the juggling of working the allotment, having a full time job and enjoying the festive period (sometimes a little too much) the allotment ball was definitely dropped. My time management disappeared along with summer’s light nights and my poor plot looks quite worse for wear as a result. All my good intentions of digging it over in December and letting the frost do it’s work remained just that, good intentions. The pond isn’t dug, the fruit canes haven’t been moved, the strawberry bed isn’t finished…. I could go on, but I won’t, because another thing I’m taking away from last year is that it’s never too late. We got our allotment in a terrible state at the very end of June last year and still managed to harvest cabbages, strawberries, runner beans, rhubarb, Swiss chard, raspberries and gooseberries, there’s even still some sprouts in the ground growing. So November and December may have been a bust but it has done little to dampen either my enthusiasm or ambition.

A contributor to this lack of time management was also a lack of planning. I spent six months gathering resources around me in the form of books, magazines and TV shows, all trying to figure out how to become a gardener and somehow overlooked the fundamental starting block before the shovel even touches dirt – plan everything first. This is even more important, and potentially detrimental if lacking, when you have as much space as we have. So now I have compiled lists of seed varieties I want, accurately measured the beds so I know how much I can fit in, made a monthly planting planner tailored specifically for my own needs and wants and have been gifted a beautiful journal to keep everything documented along the way. This planning process was especially enjoyable as it made me realise just how much information I had retained from all those months spent sprawled over various gardening books.

So, looking forward to the year ahead, I think the biggest impact on productivity will be brought about by the delivery and construction of the shed, a Christmas gift from my parents. I am so excited at the thought of having a little allotment den. At the moment there is nowhere on the plot to grab shelter during the rain or sit with a nice flask of tea (unless you want a wet muddy bottom). As well as this I don’t have anywhere at present to store tools securely which means extracting them from our out-house at home and enlisting Rob and his car to drive me up to the allotment every time I need them. Having everything I need stored at the plot will make such a difference purely in the flexibility of being able to pop up there for an hour or so without all the faff and forward planning needed currently. If you want to see just how ridiculous my aspirations for my girly shed are you can check out my dedicated Pinterest board here .

I’ve already ordered a large chunk of my seeds for this year, I just couldn’t help myself once the catalogues started rolling in, and will do a show and tell once they come in. A lot of what I’ve ordered are tried and tested varieties as I’m trying not to be too ambitious for my first proper year. I’ve also ordered some plants for our little yard at home and will do updates on that too as the space progresses. Here’s to a very green year ahead!