Taking over an allotment: things to consider

We’ve been looking after plot 201 for a couple of years now – this is our second season of potatoes. Or, to be more accurate, our second season of ‘not’ potatoes.

Last year our early potatoes (Accent and Pink Fir Apple) were prolific and our maincrops (Desiree) were rubbish. Really rubbish: we got about a replacement rate of potatoes – one or two for every seed potato we planted! This year our first earlies are Maris Bard and because we had one that started to yellow (on the left of the photo above) we dug it up to see what was happening. I really hope there was some peculiar problem with that seed potato because we got two new potatoes! Okay, it’s double replacement rate, but this is really worrying.

Our potatoes this year are in the ground where the beans and peas were last year, and it was well-manured in autumn, but what we don’t know is what the previous allotment holders planted or how they treated the soil which could mean that we have years of remedial work to do before potatoes will grow well. We do find spuds popping up all over the plot, which implies one of two things:

1. They grew nothing but potatoes for years (soil exhausted through no crop rotation)
2. They bought potatoes and planted them but never harvested them so they’ve gone volunteer all over the place (soil just as exhausted and not dug for years either).

It’s a bit of a bugger really. We could invest in a ph kit and all that stuff, but to be honest the only answer is to plant well, dig well, feed the soil well and not be too impatient. Oh, and budget for buying potatoes from the supermarket for the next couple of years ….

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Blogger Joanna said...

Will you be trying a green manure this time at all? Have you ever tried with them, we are thinking of doing that this year.

Just to let you know that our hamburg parsley seeds appear to have sprouted but not sure about the parsnips yet, there maybe one or two, will have to wait and see. So hamburg parsley wins again.

June 15, 2010 at 2:09 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Hmmm. I'm unconvinced about green manures, simply because if something goes wrong (like I end up working away from home for a couple of weeks) they can go from green manure to seedy wasteland in no time flat. Also, if you grow a lot of brassicas, as we do, it can be difficult to get a green manure in the ground and keep your crop rotation properly organised.

I have some hamburg parsley seeds for next year!

June 15, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger BrideXIII said...

Not sure what your ground is like, mine is heavy clay, and previous to last November not dug for 3 years, I will be using Rye Forage as a green manure later this year, on the beds that don't have anything over wintering in them, I'll sow as each bed is emptied, leave in until just before seeding then cut and mulch over winter under membrane , then dig in in spring, although you can dig it in a scant 3 weeks before planting apparently.Best of luck with your potatoes though, this is my first year growing them NOT in buckets, and after a little frost burn from earlier in the spring they deem to be fighting back and doing ok, touch wood.

June 15, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
Anonymous allotments4you.com said...

well I wish you loook with the potatoes...i think it is just a grin and bare it scenario...My new plot that I have was very neglected and I find myself digging twitch out for all I am worth and I know that once I have dug it then more will spring too life......on the plus side it does keep me busy!!

June 15, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Joanna said...

I know what you mean about the problem of weedy wasteland if you let them go on but we have that anyway, so may as well have something worth digging in. We have got clover, Lucerne, and timothy grass but we also have a large area to cover and if it doesn't get dug in then we will sell the stuff for feed.

June 16, 2010 at 10:36 AM  

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