A good crop of potatoes

In our first year at the allotment potatoes were a must for us. They can be reasonably hard work at times, but are normally guaranteed to succeed. We planted three varieties, giving us a crop early in the season, mid-season and late season.

Mound up soil as soon as they are at a good height.

Mound up soil as soon as they are at a good height.

 

Before anything we made sure the soil was well turned and fed, and gave our sprouting seed potatoes a good chance to grow before planting them. We made sure that we mounded up the potatoes at every opportunity we had, and kept them well watered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Try and not interfere with your foliage too much while the crop is maturing.

 

We actually missed the flowering of the early season potatoes and didn’t  realise until a few weeks after that they were ready! Luckily they all came out fine and nothing had munched them. This meant that there was a slight overlap with the mid-season potatoes, so we had a lot ready at once!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cut back the foliage when the crop is ready to harden the skins

 

We didn’t want to pick everything at once so went about digging out every other potato plant. We were then told that cutting back the foliage of the potato plant would help harden the skins of the potatoes, so we gave it a go in the hope that it would help the potatoes keep longer. Since then all the potatoes have been picked and they all came out great, so this is a technique we will definitely use next year.

 

 

 

 

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We did have problems with the late season variety of potato. Almost 75% got munched by creatures, and they came out very small. We think we may have put them in the ground a bit soon, exposing them for a longer period when they wouldn’t normally be active. But it might also be that everything is becoming ready a month early at the moment!

 

But part of growing your own is having failure among success. Even with the last batch munched we got around 10kg of potatoes to last us!

 

Edited by Laboro Marketing Solutions. www.laboromarkeingsolutions.com

 

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We found gold!!

IMG_0957On our allotment we briefly shared a small section with the previous tenants while their winter crops were finishing. They fully moved out a couple of months ago but we hadn’t got round to weeding and turning the soil over in that section until last week.

Up till now we have come across a few potatoes while turning the soil over, but otherwise it has just been weeds. Little did we know that there was a rogue vegetable growing away unnoticed. On digging up the last few weeds I came across a weed that was fighting, so I got my fork to dig it out, and a parsnip popped out! We ended up with a dozen parsnips which because they had been left in the ground  longer then they normally would have were huge!

So keep digging because you never know what you will find!

 

Edited by Laboro Makreting Solutions http://www.laboromarketingsolutions.com

Tools for setting up your Allotment

There is a plan in your hand and you a raring to dive into your plot and get digging, but what tools do you need to get you digging?

There is of course a big list out there of different tools that help you dig, weed, sow, prune etc but you won’t need them all at the same time. This is good to know as tools can bring a big cost.

If you are starting off at the same time as boot sales, then head down to them and pick yourself up some bargains. We plan to do this when the time comes to get the extra tools we need. The local tips can also be useful. Generally old tools turn up, some might have a broken handle which can be easily fixed. Or put some tools on your birthday list!

Now the tools I am listing here are just the tools that we have used so far. You might need to use something else on top of these depending on your plot, or maybe only half of the tools listed.

 

GLOVES

gloves

Always handy to have when you are playing around with soil and manure, or moving objects such as bricks. Don’t risk damaging your tea holding hand! You won’t need heavy-duty gloves for this, just ones that give enough protection.

 

 

 

WHEELBARROW

wheelbarrowVital at all stages of your allotment. The wheelbarrow makes transporting your materials that much easier. Probably the more expensive tool to get, and they don’t show up at boot sales as much. But you can get a half decent new one for £30-£40.

 

 

 

HOE

005071623A famous tool in the allotment world. It’s worth getting rid of any weeds before you start digging over, no matter how few. The more weeds you get rid of now, that much less you have to deal with later. They come in all different shapes, but they all do the same so don’t fret about which one to get. You will always find these second-hand, so don’t worry too much about buying new.

 

 

GEOTEXTILE MEMBRANE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA material not a tool I know, but this stuff comes in handy to control those weeds! We’ve put it under our brick paths and compost area, as it gives them a bit of stability, but will also control weeds in those areas so we can concentrate more on the vegetables we are growing, rather than picking weeds out of the gaps between our bricks. You will find this at any nursery or places that sell plants. They are normally sold as big rolls which you cut off, so make sure you have a general idea of how much you need.

 

STANLEY KNIFE

040210765Comes in handy more often than not. Makes light work of the geoxtextile (when sharp) and anything else you need to cut to a general shape. Can be picked up for a few pounds from the likes of Homebase.

 

 

 

FORKS

bulldog-premier-garden-fork-p175-226_zoomAnother well known tool in the allotment world. At this stage a fork is used to help turn the soil over. There are different sizes and weights, so pick the right one. You will always find these second-hand, so don’t worry too much about buying a new one.

 

 

 

SHOVEL

31391-square-mouth-builders-shovel-with-hardwood-shaft-001You can of course use a shovel to turn soil over, but you won’t get it breaking up as much as if you used a fork. We’ve used the shovel so far to scoop up the manure. We got very well rotted manure to use on our plot so a shovel was perfect for it. The shovel can also come in handy at this stage to edge up. We had grass encroaching on our edges, so used the shovel to cut it off.

 

 

POLYTHENE SHEET

31L4lTc0xYLIf you are using manure on your allotment, we have been recommended to cover it with plastic afterwards. This keeps the area warmer, helping the manure to rot down quickly and keep in its nutrients. You don’t necessarily have to do this, especially if time is short. Any plastic will do, but the more heavy-duty you get, the more heat retained. You can get black polythene sheet from any nursery or building merchants. Cheaper to buy off the roll.

 

SAW, SCREWDRIVER, SCREWS

0000004074014_001c_v001_zpDepending on your plans for storage of tools and compost these can come in very handy. We’ve decided to make our own. We’ve got hold of pallets with sides that we are using for compost bins, and some damaged plywood to make a storage box for our tools. A handy tip for getting cheap wood is to go down to a builders merchant and ask for any damaged sheets. They can’t sell them full price, so you get a good discount.

 

 

5035048206669_001c_v001_zpIf you are planning to build any cages for certain vegetables, then these will come in very handy. When buying a saw, make sure you get one made for wood to ease cutting. Saws can be bought relatively cheaply. Screwdrivers or drills can become very expensive. You can use hand screwdrivers, but I’m not keen on spending all day doing that. Look on places like eBay for a good bargain, or keep an eye out at places like screwfix where they have some very good deals pop up occasionally. Or better yet, borrow one from someone else.

 

In summary don’t buy everything at once, and don’t necessarily buy it all new. There will be more tools you will need on your allotment, but I will discuss them when it comes to the time that you will be needing them. After this your plot should be more or less ready to go, with just a few more things to finish up which I will explain in another post.