Friday, 20 March 2015

How To Grow New Potatoes aka Baby Spuds


 New Baby Potatoes
Picture from theguardian.com

Wondering how to go about growing those lovely, new, baby potatoes for early summer eating?

The Soil...
Potatoes need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day and nice, loose, soil that drains well.

They grow well in soil that is slightly acidic or neutral. Sweet soils (alkaline) may cause scab to occur so do not lime your spud bed.

Add compost, manure and organic matter to your bed annually. This keeps your soil healthy and healthy soil gives you healthy crops. Organic gardening is all about feeding your soil to feed your plants, thus no need to additionally fertilise any veggies in a garden with healthy soil.

Spuds like potash aka potassium (the K in the N-P-K) so if you have a source of kelp or seaweed, add that to your potato bed and you will have lovely spuds. If you do not have access to the actual seaweed, you can spray some liquid seaweed onto the soil, before or during the growing process. You can also spray the liquid seaweed right onto the foliage.


Choosing your spuds... 

For the baby potatoes you want to choose early to mid season potatoes rather than the late ones. Think Warba, Yukon Gold, Norland, Chieftain ....

The new baby potatoes will be ready to harvest about 10 weeks after planting.


 These chits are coming along nicely. 
Wait till they are about an inch long to plant up, if you can wait that long ; ) 

Chitting... 

Chitting is the process of pre-sprouting your potatoes before planting, for earlier harvest.

To chit your potatoes, place them in an egg carton or tray, and set in a warm place for a couple of weeks until you see some chits aka sprouts. When these chits are about an inch long, you can plant them up.

If your seed potato is really large and has lots of eyes, you can cut it in half, or pieces that have at least two sets of eyes per piece. Set the pieces out to chit.
Never plant a newly cut potato, let it scab over for a few days prior to planting.


When To Plant... 

In our area, you can generally plant your potatoes anywhere from the beginning of April to the middle of June. You have a large window of opportunity : )

You want the day time temps to be around 10 C for the soil to be warm enough that your seed potato does not rot in the ground. Plant when soil is warm-ish and dry or slightly moist, not wet!
Do not ever plant into cold, wet soil.

Spuds growing in trenches...
This is after the first hilling up and now ready for the next one! 
Hill the soil around the plants so that just the top 2 inches of foliage is showing. 

How To Plant...

I like to plant potatoes in trenches, the old-fashioned way ; )

Make a trench about 6 to 8 inches deep. Plant your seed potatoes 6" to 8" apart for new/baby potatoes, or 12 inches apart for the later, larger ones.

Cover with 4 inches of soil. When your green tops are about 6" tall, add 4 more inches of soil, leaving just the top two inches above the soil.
Do this one more time until you have small hills around your tops.

Leave them to grow... water about once a week.

 Grow spuds two ways in pots...
Spuds alone... or as a mini-garden.
My mini-garden contains Russian Blue potatoes and is topped with 
Red Romaine lettuce, mixed onion seedlings, and Swiss Chard  

Alternately.... Growing in pots! 

If you do not have the garden space or do not wish to use the garden space for spuds, but still want new, baby potatoes, you can grow them in pots. Make sure they have lots of great drainage holes!

Fill your pot about 1/4 of the way up, 3 to 4 inches deep, with organic potting soil (a soil-less mix). You can add compost to your potting mix for more nutrients ( I would use a 2 to 5 ratio with your compost). You can also mix in some organic, granular, vegetable fertiliser.

I went with a 3 gallon pot, so placed 2 seed potatoes into the pot. If you go with a larger pot, you can pop in more seed potatoes, but keep in mind that less means bigger spuds ; ) 

Top up the pot with soil as the plants grow, as mentioned above with the trenching method...

Or ... You can also use your pot as a mini-garden so no topping up needed.
For this method, you want to put about 4" of soil at the bottom of the pot, pop in your seed spuds, and then fill the pot with soil to the top. Plant up the top with peas, onions, lettuce, spinach, Oriental greens, whatever you like.. I used a 5 gallon pot and 3 seed potatoes.

 Won't be long now till there are baby potatoes.... 

Harvesting your baby potatoes...

About 3 weeks after your potatoes have flowered, which is about 10 weeks after planting, you can begin to harvest your new baby potatoes.

Carefully root around the sides and remove the largest of baby spuds, leaving the smaller ones to harvest later... or simply pull up the entire plant and harvest one plant at a time, as needed. Keep in mind though, that you will get all different sizes if you harvest the plant.

For the potted potatoes, simply dump the pot out in the garden or on a tarp, harvest your spuds, and add the soil to your garden beds or compost pile. Do not save soil to re-use. 

Note: New baby potatoes are a treat that should be eaten the day they are harvested. They will not keep or store well.

If you want storage potatoes, leave the potatoes in the ground until till the tops of the plant begin to die back.

 Enjoy ... 

Cook any way you like 'em best ... baked, roasted, boiled, smashed....

  jamieoliver.com

This pic above is from Jamie Oliver and HERE here is the link with corresponding recipe!

The recipe for the pic below of Smashed Garlic Baby Potatoes can be found HERE

damndelicious.net

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

March Ramblings At The Potager

 Bring in some fruit tree clippings for indoor forcing.
They soon begin to flower, bringing with them the sweet scent of spring.

Welcome March, just days away from the official start of spring!
Here on the island though, spring has already sprung ... with daffodils, tulips, pansies in bloom, forsythia, cherry, and plum trees full of colour.
In other parts of Canada though? Very, very cold this year or buried 6' deep in snow. 


So... What's happening at the potager this month?

In the garden....



The rhubarb is coming up gangbusters!


Plum trees are blooming!

Chives
Herbs of all kinds, plus flowers and bulbs, are all up and showing off for spring.   

In the greenhouse...


Roses are beginning to flush out
The bare roots roses have been planted up and are starting to grow new shoots so that they can be in full flush of foliage and blooms by Mother's Day.

  Peppers, hot and sweet. 
 
The peppers seedlings are being transplanted into organic, bio-pots.

 Arbequina olives

The Arbequina has started to produce hundreds of wee little olives. 

  Variegated Pink Eureka Lemon

The citrus fruit trees are not only putting on new fruits and new blossoms, they are also ripening off the existing fruits. These pink lemons above are ripe, ready, so sweet and wonderful, plus pretty to look at. 
 
What to do in the Potager this month....


Prune Fruit Trees ...
Is pretty much too late to prune your fruit trees here on the island, but pretty near the perfect time anywhere else.
Late winter is the best time to prune your fruit trees. Bring in your clippings, pop them in a vase with some water, they will soon begin to flower and leaf out. The scent from these yellow plum flowers is gentle and sweet, the perfect perfume of spring. 
 
Seeding ...
For anyone who is seeding or sowing or planting this month, please remember that the nights are still really cool, frosty actually, so only put out cool weather seeds or seedlings that can handle the minus degrees.  

Sowing warm weather seedlings? Things like peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, corn, etc... Please start them indoors or in a heated greenhouse.They do not like to go below +10 degrees C. Bottom heat will work at keeping them warm enough though, so if you have a mini greenhouse with bottom heat, that will keep them toasty and happy. 


Have an English Mastiff like Ruby Tuesday lying in your garden? 
Nope, that's still NO reason to roto-till! 

This would probably be a good time for me to remind you NOT to roto-till your soil ... ever! No matter what!

Rototilling compacts soil, destroys healthy soil structure, kills off earth worms, micro-organisms, and healthy bacteria, plus promotes weed growth in your garden.

If you have 200 lb mastiffs lying around in your raised beds all winter, compacting the soil, simply use a broad fork or a garden fork to lift and gently loosen, plus aerate, the soil.

If you do not have a mastiff problem, you do not have to lift, loosen, or aerate your soil. Remember to top dress your beds with manure, compost, and/or organic matter once or twice a year, then let the earth worms and Mother Nature take care of the rest.

Plant your peas this month! 
What to sow this month...

1. Seeds in the garden, un-heated greenhouse or cold frame 

- Carrots 
- Beets
- Broad beans
- Green aka salad onions
- Spinach
- Green onions aka spring onions
- Lettuce, rocket, greens
- Radish
- Turnip
- Peas (to have better, and bigger yields, don't forget to use inoculant or buy inoculated seeds)
- Swiss chard

For most all of the items listed above, I highly recommend succession sowing. Succession sowing is a method of staggering your crop sowing to extend your harvest.
Sow small amounts, just a row or two at a time, of each crop every 2 to 4 weeks, so that you have a new crop coming throughout the growing season.    
 
 Plant horseradish, asparagus, and shallots!
Sorry about the painted fingers ; )  

Mid to late month is the perfect time to plant out ....
- Shallots or onions
- Horseradish
- Asparagus roots
- Fruiting shrubs like blueberries, raspberries, currants, etc.. 
- Fruit trees
- Strawberries


Calendula
 
Flowers from seed to sow directly outdoors this month ...
- Calendula
- Cornflowers
- Poppies
- Cosmos
- Sweet Peas


2. Plant up in pots, trays or in flats, for planting out as seedlings ...
- Broccoli, broccoli raab
- Cauliflower
- Cabbage
- Brussels sprouts
- Celery


3. In the house or heated greenhouse

- Tomatoes! Yes, finally! About mid to end month, start your tomatoes from seed so that they will be a good size, but not too big, to plant out at the end of May.

- Dahlias and other summer bulbs! Pot up your bulbs if they have begun to sprout in their over wintering containers.
Did you know that you can take cuttings from your Dahlias to start new plants? Have a favourite one and want to have more of them? Simply take some cuttings and make more plants!

Other Bits and Bobs To Do ... 

 
Chit them up! 

Purchase your seed potatoes this month and chit them up for an earlier spud harvest in summer.
Let them sit in a warm place till they begin to sprout. This will take about 2 to 3 weeks. When they are ready to go, plant them carefully into the soil so that you do not break off any of your new shoots. 
 
Lay out your garden plan before you plant.
Pic from www.chicagonow.com

Lay out your garden design by marking out your rows or blocks of edibles and annuals.
Do not muck about in your garden if the soil is still wet! wait for it to dry out.

Happy Spring Everyone! 
Let the gardening season begin!