TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

May 19, 2013

TopVeg Garden this weekend

Filed under: potato, vegetable gardening — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 9:09 pm

These photos are from the TopVeg garden this weekend.

The beetroot that was sown 5 weeks ago has come through & is looking healthy.

6wk-beetroot-seedling

6wk-beetroot-seedling

The leeks were sown at the same time but took a long time to germinate.  They are now a couple of inches high.

leeks-5wks-old

leeks-5wks-old

The brussel sprouts have two true leaves.

sprout-plant-5-weeks

sprout-plant-5-weeks

The pigeons and rabbits have been kept off the sprouts with netting.

protect-sprout-plants

protect-sprout-plants

The potatoes have grown really well.

7wk-potatoes

7wk-potatoes

The potatoes were earthed up in the TopVeg garden this weekend.

March 1, 2012

Exquisa Potato

Filed under: potato — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 8:16 pm
Exquisa is a new variety of potato.  The supermarkets try hard to keep exclusivity of the latest entrants on the market and the seed is kept under wraps.
 
Janette has asked TopVeg if we know of any suppliers of Exquisa potato seed.  I have spent ages looking for a supplier without success. 
Charlton Park Garden Centre sold it last year, but not this.  I wonder why?
The Exquisa variety was bred in Holland in 1997- and seems to be easier to find there! 
.
Exquisa Characteristics:
  • yellow flesh
  • smooth skin
  • oval shape
  • small to medium size
  • very high yielding
  • fairly firm texture on cooking
  • multi-purpose or salad type

If anyone knows where to find some Exquisa potato seed please do contact us!

February 11, 2012

How Not to Grow Potatoes

Filed under: potato — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 10:45 pm
snow-on-vegetable-patch

snow-on-vegetable-patch

This example of how not to grow potatoes has proved rather successful. We tried it last year and it worked then, too.
Instead of lifting potatoes before the first frost and storing them in nice Hessian bags, we have left them in the ground.

tray-holding-plastic-down

tray-holding-plastic-down

We have covered them over with a blue plastic sheet to keep some frost off – and the snow, hopefully, has provided some insulation.

We lifted some Kestrel today, after pulling the sheet back.

plastic-pulled-back

plastic-pulled-back

We dug 2.5kg of Kestrel potatoes (the gardener said it was just from one side of the root!)

2.5kg-Kestrel-potatoes

2.5kg-Kestrel-potatoes

The skins do look a bit scabby, but the skin scraped off easily and left a clean potato.

KestrelPotatoes

KestrelPotatoes

They do taste good!  Kestrel are a second early.  Click this link to buy some Kestrel seed potatoes.

But there is a risk to this strategy.  If the frost gets down into the potatoes they will go soft and to mulch when they thaw out, rendering them useless.  But we had a good 5C degrees of frost last night and the soil was still quite warm.  Last year after a prolonged period of very cold weather we did loose one or two.  So this exercise is definitely an example of how not to grow potatoes!

January 23, 2012

Swift early potatoes

Filed under: potato — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 9:54 pm

My gardening friend always grows Swift early potatoes & has the first boiling in early May!  Here are some of his tips:

·         Swift are the earliest variety, ready within 7 weeks of planting

·         Les plants Swift in January

·         He grows them in flower buckets

·         The buckets are kept in the greenhouse all the time

·         Swift only have short tops, so don’t fall over

·         Les pulls the plant out of the bucket, picks of the largest potatoes & returns the plant to the bucket to continue growing!

Swift is ‘The earliest early” according to the British Potato Council variety database.

 Characteristics of  Potato Variety:

·         exceptionally early maturing potato variety

·         good yields

·         attractive, medium sized potatoes

·         good skins

·         good cooking quality

Click this link to buy Swift new potatoes from Unwins

Swift is a very early potato variety!

May 15, 2011

First New Potatoes!

Filed under: Uncategorized, potato — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 7:50 pm

This must be a record for our first new potatoes!  Luck has been with us and we have had quite warm soil temperatures.

new-potatoes-15-May

new-potatoes-15-May

With fingers crossed, we planted these Maris Bard  on 12th February, very early because Mike was away for the following 3 weeks.  The seed potatoes were particularly big, which helped to give us a head start.

Even though the potatoes were covered with polythene  we had a scare last week when we had a ground frost early in the morning.  Leaping out of bed at first light, we rushed out to sprinkle the potatoes (& strawberries) with water – a trick to keep the frost off.

Other than the frost protection, we have not watered these potatoes at all since they were planted- and we only had 9.5ml rain in March and none in April!

The soil is now very dry, so it is easy to dig the new potatoes out with your hands.

digging-new-potatoes

digging-new-potatoes

The soil is full of the potato roots – which have helped the potato plants to grow so well.

roots+new-potatoes

roots+new-potatoes

The first new potatoes were quite delicious!

May 4, 2011

Swift Early Potato

Filed under: potato — Tags: , , , , — TopVeg @ 8:55 am

Les told me last night that he was going to ‘try’ some of his Swift early potatoes next week.  I was impressed!

He said he always grows Swift & has the first boiling in early May!  Here are some of the secrets I picked up:

·         Swift are the earliest variety, ready within 7 weeks of planting

·         Les plants Swift in January

·         He grows them in flower buckets

·         The buckets are kept in the greenhouse all the time

·         Swift only have short tops, so don’t fall over

·         Les pulls the plant out of the bucket, picks of the largest potatoes & returns the plant to the bucket to continue growing!

Swift is ‘The earliest early” according to the British Potato Council variety database.

 Characteristics of  Potato Variety:

·         exceptionally early maturing potato variety

·         good yields

·         attractive, medium sized potatoes

·         good skins

·         good cooking quality

Click this link to buy Swift new potatoes from Unwins

Swift is a very early potato variety!

April 22, 2011

Plant Potatoes!

Filed under: potato — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 8:25 am

It must be time to plant potatoes!  

Folk lore dictates that potatoes are planted on Good Friday.  Good Friday was the first day the working  man would have off between Christmas and Easter.  He was keen to plant potatoes at the first opportunity because they were a staple food for his family. 

plant-potato-with-chits-upwards

plant-potato-with-chits-upwards

Folk law also states that

  • in Northern Ireland you plant potatoes on St Patrick’s day and dig them up on the 12th July.
  • or..  on the nearest full moon to St.Patrick’s Day (16 March 2011)  plant the first earlies
plant-potato-in-hole

plant-potato-in-hole

So, it is up to you to choose which bit of folk lore you are going to follow when it comes to planting potatoes!

April 18, 2011

Potato Cyst Nematodes reduced with Caliente Mustard

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 5:37 pm

Caliente mustard reduces root invasion from potato cyst nematodes.

The mustard should be sown, on the ground which is going to grow the potatoes, in the early autumn before the potatoes are to be planted.  The mustard is chopped up and incorporated into the soil in the spring, before potato planting.

Caliente mustard releases a gas called isothiocyanate  when it is chopped or crushed in damp conditions.  This gas acts as a biofumigantin the soil, and reduces the actions of  potato cyst eelworm.

October 23, 2010

Purple Majesty Potatoes

Filed under: potato — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 8:05 pm

Purple Majesty Potatoes contain up to ten times more health-giving anti-oxidants than conventional white potatoes.

Characteristics of Purple Majesty Potatoes:

  • purple flesh
  • satiny purple skin
  • high in anthocyanins, an antioxidant
  • oblong tubers – good for chips
  • resistant to most viruses, susceptible to blackleg & dry rot
  • medium to late season potato
  • good for short-term storage only
  • high yielding

Purple Majesty Potatoes are fun to eat as they are purple even when cooked!

October 9, 2010

Potato blight spreads in warm wet weather

Filed under: potato — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 8:49 pm

TopVeg has (inadvertently) demonstrated that potato blight spreads in warm wet weather.

Last week was warm and wet, and for some reason a cloche had been put over half the potato row, so covering those potato leaves and keeping the rain off. 

blight-in-uncovered-potatoes

blight-in-uncovered-potatoes

The covered potatoes are healthy,

healthy-potato-leaf

healthy-potato-leaf

but those plants left out in the rain have been decimated.

blighty-potato-row

blighty-potato-row

This all happened in a week, and it demonstrates that blight flourishes in warm wet weather, and it is really worth applying a protective spray to potato crops.

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