Tag Archives: red duke of york

#NABLOPOMO: Garlic Planting part one @MarshallsSeeds

Thanks to Marshall Seeds who kindly send me some heritage garlic varieties; and start with with arguably the first planting for next years growing season.

In general, Heritage fruit and vegetable varieties are still very new to me. Something that I tried to do this year and am looking to carry on into the future. Garlic is no different. It is staple part of many Indian dishes, and Ma will always use the crops that we produce on the plot in her kitchen.

Over the years, I have sown and grown many different varieties. The varieties in this batch are:

  • Red Duke
  • Garlic Mikulov
  • Garlic Bohemian rose.

I have broken up the cloves from the bulbs. Each individual clove is then dibbed into the freshly dug over earth that we prepared last week. I say we, but in reality it was my mum digging it over and removing the weeds and grass that offended her by just growing. She doesn’t the weeds and is always trying to make the plot what she terms to be ‘tidy’, I do not know how the grass even dares, in knowing that it will be unscrupulously pulled out.

I am conscious that there is a risk of bird pulling the cloves out, so they are covered with only the tiniest bit of clove sticking out. Hopefully, they should be okay.

First aloo harvest: Red Duke of York

spuds

I have somewhat lost patience with the poly tunnel potatoes. Whilst I understand that this is for an early crop, I am not sure  that I would repeat the exercise. The tiddly tiny crop, is a lovely shade of red. Rather matches Mum’s nail varnish. But ntot very big. I could have left them in a bit longer, I realise that. But the room is needed for tomatoes and chillies now, so they didn’t stand a chance really. The ground is to be refreshed with a spot of farmyard manure, and the tomatoes are going in as soon as possible.

Polytunnel potatoes: triffids arise

spudpoly

In the last two weeks, the Red Duke of York potatoes have taken on a life of their own. They have been fleeced as there is a chance of frost until the end of the month, Whilst the poly tunnel might reach the heady heights of 30 something degrees, it can still suffer a rapid drop in temperature at night. So all the shoots have been tucked up under fleece. And they really have taken off. They took a while to take off, the clay is horrible, and it was still quite cold when they were first sunk.As the weather picked up, and April was relatively calm; we didn’t have that many showers. The shoots have become more vigorous. My next thought would be when these are going to be harvested. These are to be taken up at the appropriate time, and tomatoes to be plugged in. The tomatoes are getting taller still in the 4TB. I have had a handful of RDOY potatoes previously, those were outside in the clay. Inside, there is a distinct difference. I have yet to furtle beneath the soil, I don’t want the potatoes to be really very diddly. Might give it another week to fourteen days, before seeing what lurks beneath.

#NABLOPOMO: Poly Potato Progress

We are finally seeing some progress with the the poly tunnel potatoes. The warm spring weather has somewhat spurred them on, and the poly tunnel does get rather warm. It was easily 30 degrees this morning when I went to water the chillies. The soil does look rather arid, now I think about it. You’ll have to excuse the spiked leaves, I had forgotten my gloves to pull them out. And trust me, those critters are vicious. Sting lasts for days.

At least half a dozen of the spuds have sprouted and growing.  These were sunk mid February, two months exactly. But, as they are sat in clay and the weather is only just turning, they have taken a really long time to get a wiggle on. When they were in open ground outside, I harvested when the flowers had bloomed. Will need to work out when to harvest these as the conditions are a little different.

#NABLOPOMO: Spud Sinking Saturday 2015

Finally. The spuds have been looking at me for some time. Calling at me, to be sunk on the plot. Today, is Good Friday, and I like other folks on the plot, were going to sink spuds today. Off I went, with compost-trundled along in the wheelbarrow-bags of seed spuds and hand tools. There were also some ear phones and maroon5’s V on shuffle. I was on a mission.

First thing first, I had to fill a few of the beds with MPC. Much of the soil that they had been filled with had sunk after last season’s growth. Also some of the beds had been filled with leaf mold, and this had to be topped off for this year.

This years varieties:

  • Red Duke of York: First earlies
  • Kestral: Second earlies
  • Lady Balfour: main crop
  • Pink Fir Apple: Salad
  • International Kidney: Salad

In February, I had sunk Red Duke of York potatoes in the poly tunnel. A tad early, yes, and with the clay that the poly is sat on; have taken a while to get through.

Red Duke of york coming through with a pernicious weed
Red Duke of york coming through with a pernicious weed

You have to squint a little, but you can see the red and green of the red duke of potato just starting to come through. I was starting to lose faith with these things, especially with the clay. Yes, I know there is a weed and algae. It does get warm in there, especially as Spring attempts to arrive. Will pass the hoe across to aerate the soil and get rid of the algae. Spotted a couple of shoots, but not many. Hopefully, a few more will come through before I put tomatoes and chillies in there.

Next time, I should perhaps scale down on the salad seed potatoes. I underestimated the amount of international kidney and pink fir apple seeds and also the space I had available to put them into. Will probably see those knobbly critters in my sleep. Plus, no one told me about the rather funny shapes and form that pink fir apple seeds take.

There is further experimentation, in that some of the raised beds contained soil topped off with leaf mold. The seeds potatoes were sunk deep into that soil, with the leaf mold already sitting on top. This was then topped off with MPC. Remains to be seen as to this will be a success or I will end up with scabby potatoes. Raised beds are the only way that I can cultivate any form of edible potato. Last years open ground experiment indicated that the heavy clay, wet weather and slug population were going to annihilate anything that was put into it.

Sinking potatoes has taken a chunk out of the number of raised beds being used this year. I have two that already occupied by garlic. I also have to keep one free for Ma’s fenugreek-She will not be best pleased, if she doesn’t have somewhere for her fenugreek. There are not four beds left,  1mx1m in size. Not an awful lot of room for all those squashes to be sown. There are however two other beds, open ground where I am plotting to have running beans. I have tried squashes in open ground and the results weren’t good.

The plot, the poly and potatoes

plot

I was going to play on the plot today. If only for a brief spell. What I really wanted to do, was sink potatoes. Yes, already.

I have had fairly dire success when it comes to potatoes. What for others might be a fairly straight forward thing to do, for me, is a challenge. There has been some limited success growing potatoes in raised beds, and that is what I will in a couple of months time. I don’t really want to dig trenches again into the clay. I did that last year, and the seed potatoes were basically eaten by the clay. What could have been a beautiful bountiful crop, was in fact diddly squat of not a lot really. Very few spuds actually came out, and I had planted quite a few. Was rather demoralising really. I don’t particularly want to feel that way again. Last year was the first time for a number of the varieties that I am trying this year.

This year, the spud list is as follows:

  • Red duke of York-first earlies
  • Kestral-second earlies
  • Lady balfour-Main crop
  • Pink fir apple-salad variety
  • International kidney-salad variety

What I have done today, could possibly end with disappointment, as I have set about doing an experiment. I toddled off to the plot, with a bulb planter, a transplanting trowel and a bag of red duke of york seed potatoes. I went into the poly tunnel. The soil in there has already been tidied up and even had poop put into it. It is still horrible clay though, like the rest of the plot. Then over the next hour, I sunk the seed potatoes. I started off with the bulb planter, but didn’t like it, and so the transplanter trowel dug slots for the spuds. Each seed was then popped in. and covered over with the dirt that had been dug over. This is the first time that I have sunk seed spuds undercover, and therein it’s an experiment. It is also rather early. Most people have probably only received their potato orders and are likely to be now chitting their spuds in preparation. There is fleece on hand, to cover the shoots as they come through. I realise that there is a huge gamble when we are still experiencing frosts and will do so, til the end of may. By that time, the spuds should be up and out. Leading to tomatoes and chillies being planted into the poly. I didn’t fancy having an empty poly tunnel for such a long time.

Previously, I have sown kestral and lady, not too bad. Both were okay variety, particularly in light of my spud growing naivete. International kidney got eaten by the clay last year and didn’t work. Pink Fir apple is new this year, as it is such a knobbly looking thing. What I need to reflect upon closely, is where all the potatoes are going to go, and how. I really don’t want to sink into the clay, as that is a short way to write everything off.

Beyond the potatoes, I took this opportunity to walk around and tidy up the raised beds. Three of them, require topping up with MPC. They currently contain leaf mold. These, I suspect will be used to grow potatoes. There are other beds, that would also benefit from topping up, have sunk quite a bit. I can start to work out now, what is going to go where. Mum is going to need a raised bed or two for spinach and fenugreek. Space where running beans and climbing beans might go, is currently covered in black plastic. I don’t want the clay to get even more wetter and stickier. The vast majority of the raspberry canes that were sunk before Christmas do appear to have rooted and remain plugged in. No sign of growth yet on them, though. With the fruit trees, the braeburn apple, falstaff and worcester pearmain have started to form buds. The rochester peach less so. The peach is on persica rootstock. I have done some research about the concorde pear, and it appears that another one near by would improve things. At the moment, I’m not sure there is one near by, and so might reflect on finding another to sink on the plot. The pear treee that I have, has never ever fruited. Even the victoria plum has fruited once upon a time. There are huge great big plum trees dotted on the site, I like to think that may have an effect.

Marching Red Duke of york

Image

Have removed the fleece from over the potatoes. If it does frost between now and the end of the month, will have to recover. Above is the one mound of red duke of york, These are first earlies, so could be up as early as next month. They have been in for about eight to nine weeks, I think. I had been expected a few more clumps of leafy foliage. I can’t imagine that the other two mounds so expertly sunk by the artist in residence will have failed. He’ll be gutted if they have! We want a success, so A)he comes back again B) he sees that his handiwork paid off. I do want to see the red potatoes come out, they are being played with this year, for the very first time.

The vast majority of the other spuds are up. Am yet to see any Maris Piper though. Lady balfour, international kidney and King Edwards, have certainly sent up green leafy shoots. I can only imagine that the seed potatoes are perhaps struggling to grow through the heavy clay. The very name of international kidney makes me laugh. These were not planted in trenches, but sunk with a bulb planter. So it will be interesting to see how these will progress. 

Pot-eh-tow!

20140507-074332 pm.jpg

Things are starting to sprout. This the growth for the Red duke of York, as sank by the artist in residence. Have yet to see Maris piper or king Edwards come up; but international kidney, lady Balfour and kestral are all coming through. This has meant that as we are not yet out of the frost window, these shoots have been covered over with fleece or grass cuttings.

More aloo sinking: spuds galore

Potato planting

Nearly at the end of the potato planting job. I think I might go slightly loopy if I see any more seed potatoes. That said, there are 20 Maris Piper tubers that remain to be sunk.

There have been two different techniques used to sink the spuds. Firstly, traditional potato trenches dug, seed potatos sunk with mounds built on top. Now, I don’t like digging, and I can’t make the mounds. Second, seed potatoes have been sunk in the same as bulbs would be, with a bulb planter. No mean feat, all in all, with horrible heavy clay that makes both of these techniques incredibly difficult and painful,

I really don’t like digging trenches,

Now, why do i have green grass on the mounds that were actually formed. I’m going to have issues earthing up, that’s why, and I can’t make proper mounds. At least the grass will break down as organic matter, and then hopefully protect the developing halums. Grass has been heaped onto the mounds, and might even help level out the dips and divots too.

Kestrel, king edwards, international kidney, maris piper and red duke of york have now been sunk. I was starting to worry about how much space there was, but it might be okay. At least half the plot, in terms of open ground is concerned with potatoes. This is a sinking of spuds on a grand scale, much bigger volume than I have ever attempted. So this could be a fairly moderate success, or a complete, and abject failure.