Saturday, 28 February 2015

Potatoes

Planted up 3 big pots of potatoes - Colleen which are first earlies. They will stay in our unheated conservatory until the growth starts to get big and susceptible to aphids. They are horrid to have in the conservatory and then put them outside where maybe the birds will feast on them

These Colleens are saved from last year's crop. This is something I've done for a few years with Desiree and Sante potatoes. Often that's because if the winter is mild the stored ones are starting to sprout so aren't much good for eating.

However, a couple of years of success the yield has been a bit disappointing. Mind you, the bought ones haven't been brilliant either. (See "Review of the year".)

I had a useful Christmas present book "Collins Pests, Diseases & Disorders of Garden Plants".This is a compendium of all kinds of pest,diseases and disorders of plants, vegetables and trees. You can look things up in two ways - by pest and by plant. So if you look at potatoes it will give a list of all kinds if diseases and also problems that occur from drought, over-watering, soil conditions, etc. and also problems that occur during harvesting and storage.

So the nasty brown cavities in the middle of some of the potatoes, with no sign of ingress by worms, were identified as "hollow heart" caused by alternating dry and wet spells of weather. The book also explains that potatoes are affected by viruses which are transmitted by aphids. The virus damage is limited in the first year but saved potatoes get worse each year with the result of second and third year yield getting poorer and smaller. The seed potatoes you buy are from Scotland or Northern Ireland where the colder weather means fewer aphids and hence less virus infection.

That's been my experience so I shall buy in some new stock this year - Pentland Javelin, Desiree (which generally do well here) and a new one to Froggarts Garden - Kestrel.

On a good note - the potatoes in the pots in the greenhouse which I planted in November are just showing very small shoots. I'll have to cover with fleece to shield from the frost I'm sure we'll be getting during March. (Very mild today.)

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