Growing New Potatoes for Christmas
Whilst we were in the garden centre in August we saw that they were selling potato tubers to grow for Christmas. Well, “why not” we said, “give it a try”. There were several varieties on offer and we bought a bag of Charlotte, I think it was, tubers.
There were nine tubers in the bag and we had three suitable growing bags available. As an extra experiment I tried three different types of compost in the bags:
1) Pure garden compost from the bin
2) A mix of 50/50 garden compost and soil
3) A propriety multi-purpose compost.
A few inches of compost was placed in the bottom of each bag, the tubers positioned on the top of the compost and then covered by a few more inches of compost. The first thing that we noticed was how quickly they came into growth. More compost was added as the potatoes grew and it was only a week or two before the bags were full. If we had been growing for foliage effect then each bag would have won prizes. One reason for growing in bags was that I would lift them into the greenhouse if frost was forecast; however the bags were so big and bulky that it was not feasible. Instead, once the frosts started in October, I covered them with fleece. This gave some protection but by the end of November most of the foliage had died back. In December we decided to empty one of the bags and prepared to feast.
No problem with the quantity of produce but they were marble sized and that was the larger ones. Out of the three seed tubers we had one boiling of potatoes. The other bags were emptied later in the month with similar results.
Of the compost experiment, the ones grown in pure compost were fractionally larger but there were fewer of them.
Why were the results so poor? It was not lack of water, a common fault with container grown potatoes. The compost was always moist, mostly from direct rainfall. I think it was because of the lack of light. The tubers were planted in August as the days were getting shorter, the opposite to March/April planted tubers. Here in the north of Scotland we experience a rapid shortening of daylight hours as we move into autumn and this last year we had precious few bright days anyway.
Will we try again for next Christmas? Somehow I think not!
- 1 Jan, 2013
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