Overwintering allotment potatoes

Okay it’s hardly winter yet, but we’ve just emptied our first box of ‘winter’ potatoes. If you have a garden or allotment that has a few wasted corners, you can use them to grow container spuds without much cost or effort.

First – there’s not a lot of point container-growing anything other than premium potatoes: we like to grow King Edwards for their exceptional quality, and also these, which are Rocket first earlies. We have three containers of Rocket one of which is this old recycling box which somehow got a large hole in the base. It’s no good for anything except as an allotment container, so we’ve saved it from being recycled to serve this purpose.

We fill the bin with leftover seed and cutting compost. What we do is use the compost left over from growing seeds or cuttings, put it into a large bucket and when we’re ready to plant the potatoes, we just give it a big stir and pour it in. This means that we are re-using something that would otherwise be discarded, so we’re benefitting twice from our purchase or production of good compost.

The potatoes, apart from this lot, are now in the cold greenhouse, still in their containers. We got nineteen spuds from three seed potatoes in this tub, and expect to get around the same amount from the other two containers, which won’t be harvested until Christmas week. This means we have new potatoes for Christmas, at the cost of £1.99 (for all ten seed) potatoes, as the compost has already been used once and therefore is cost-neutral.

To grow Christmas potatoes, you simply get some first earlies in August, plant them in containers and let them get on with it. We give ours a liquid feed (usually comfrey tea) a week after we plant them to ensure they are well on their way. Before the first frost the haulms (the greenery) will die down and at that point you stop watering them or you run the risk of having them rot in wet compost.

Come late December you simply tip the container up and harvest the gorgeously fresh potatoes. If there is no sun they will tend not to cure (leave them in sunshine for 4-6 hours for their skins to harden up a bit) so we grow waxy rather than flour Christmas spuds as we don’t like them exploding in the saucepan which is what tends to happen if they are grown over the winter.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Anonymous antivirus software said...

I love the dish of potatoes. And recently I became involved in gardening and I grow it. Thanks for the tips.

December 21, 2011 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Thank you. They are delicious, nothing like the rather musty potatoes that get sold as 'new' potatoes in supermarkets over Christmas.

December 30, 2011 at 3:25 AM  

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