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Last of the potatoes

Posted by on Saturday 10 September 2011 in growing | 6 comments

(Like Last of the Mohicans, except starchier.)

After expressing my meh-ness the other day, I actually had a productive few hours in the garden today. It’s John’s fault – after carrying down some chicken food for me, he stayed in the garden tidying some stuff at the bottom and I felt kinda guilted into staying out there too. I did a little weeding but then prioritised stuff that needed harvesting, namely the titular potatoes, some tomatoes & a gorgeous courgette. Some of said potatoes:

As I said a few weeks ago on Twitter, I don’t think I’ll grow potatoes next year. I’m restricted to growing them in containers at the moment and while it does have some advantages (diseases are contained and no digging!), it has plenty of disadvantages too. Most importantly, they use up a lot of soil and I don’t have access to a lot of soil at the moment, so to grow them means there is less soil/compost to go around everything else (or at least I have to buy it in – and it’s too expensive to buy in to use on potatoes). Growing them in containers also means they need more watering than they do in the ground, which isn’t terrible, just another job to do. Being in containers does, well, contain them a bit too: they don’t really get to stretch out to full capacity so the harvest isn’t as bountiful, either in number or size, as it would be in the ground. And of course, there is the diseased Satan gonad issue.

But the most important thing really is that we don’t eat a lot of potatoes – we cook with them no more than once a week, probably closer to once a fortnight. This last week we’ve not been eating wheat so our usual pasta/noodle/bread staples have been out but still, we’ve not actually eaten any potatoes (I was supposed to have jacket potato on Wednesday but had leftover risotto instead). If we were aiming to be completely self-sufficient then I suspect we’d eat more as it is easier to grow them than cereals but right now, we don’t need a whole lot of them and it seems a risk to grow a lot to use so gradually when we can buy the few we do want locally and/or organically ones for a frugal-friendly price. I’d rather use my limited soil and motivation/energy elsewhere.

Having said that, if we did have bed space for them, I’d probably be tempted to give them another go, or in a few years when I have more than enough homegrown compost to spare, I might try containers again. For future Louisa’s information, the Orla maincrop did well this year and have resulted in some good spuds, and the Charlotte-esque basic seed potatoes I got for next-to-nothing at Home Bargain also turned out well.

As for the other harvested stuff today: I collected just over a kilogram of tomatoes, mostly cherry tomatoes but a few big Romas too, for ripening inside since their home plant were looking worse for wear. Some are already orange-y but most are green; if they don’t seem to be getting with the ripening programme in a couple of days, I’ll turn them into Aurora’s chutney. There is probably about the same again out there and in dribs & drabs, we’ve (mostly John) has probably eaten about that so far. Three kilograms/six-and-a-half pounds isn’t a huge haul considering how much space they took up in my small greenhouse – some plants have been very productive but others not at all. John has *loved* the sweet cherry ones though, so I’ll definitely grow them again.

The courgette I picked was our first in our second wave of the squashes: we’ve had a few almost courgette-free weeks because I’ve been feeling meh so not picked the nutrient-hogging now-marrows from the plants, but there are lots of baby courgettes again now. The taste of summer still lingering on.

Have you been harvesting anything this weekend?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    Have you considered turning your potato harvest into potato flour? It’s fairly easy to make and you can use it in just about everything you’d use wheat flour in.

  2. Mo

    Oh you have to grow some, Louisa! At least for one pan of baby new potatoes straight from the garden :)
    I’m interested in Tanya’s idea though…
    We have been harvesting… nothing! We’ve been up to our ears in pork ;)

  3. john b

    Mainly harvested apples this weekend, one treeload of ours and about half a treeload from a friend (around 110kg in total). The first cider pressing of the year followed with just under 12 gallons of juice, hurrah!
    Have also dug potatoes, picked toms,courgettes and green beans, cauliflowers and cucumbers have featured heavily just recently too so have made a couple of batches of picalilli.

  4. Sue

    I have picked and processed 12k of damsons – from a four year old tree that had none on last year! Plus the first kilo of tomatoes – mixed shapes and colours, and a kilo of potatoes – very disapointing from four pots/bags but then I did plant them late. Courgettes have been a bit disappointing as we bought yellow by mistake but they are ok if picked about finger sized.

  5. Jono / Real Men Sow

    You make good points Louisa. I think you’ve either got to really love potatoes, or have plenty of room in the ground to want to grow them.

    I fall in to the latter category, as I have quite a large allotment so it doesn’t matter too much, but if I was short on space I’m not sure I’d grow them. I’ve used nearly 6kg so far this year, which was only worth £8.

    When you compare that to say, tomatoes, worth £24 of the same weight, or squashes at £12, it doesn’t realy stack up.

    They are tasty though. :)

  6. Rachel

    That’t the first rule of veg gardening, isn’t it? Only grow what you actually eat. If you don’t eat that many potatoes and space/soil is at a premium, then this hungry crop is not for you. We don’t keep chickens for the same reason.

    I’ve been foraging more than harvesting lately, but I really should get round to lifting the onions and carrots. Carrot storage is a bit of an issue. I was planning to put them in a box of sand, but I haven’t got any. I wonder whether beach sand would do? Wash it first or have salted carrots? Salt might dehydrate them – what if I left it damp? I wonder if anyone would stop me if I went down to the beach and started shovelling sand into bags??

    I’m getting a steady supply of peas and runner beans, too, which is excellent. There are a few tomatoes – I picked a pound to make pasta sauce the other day, but I don’t think my total yield is into kilos yet, which is less than excellent. I’m still hoping for an Indian summer to bring on the rest of them.

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