I had always doubted those who claim that second cropping potatoes planted in August can provide crops of Christmas New Potatoes. That seemed especially true when I first arrived at Marshalls in 2006. Customers seemed to be having great problems with growing autumn potatoes, given the need for first-class irrigation and the greater potential for blight infestation.
We spent the next few years playing around with autumn cropping potatoes in Marshalls Gro-Sacks, rather than planted in the garden, and I can now report real success over the past three winters. Yesterday – 5th February I harvested my last, perfect Charlotte salad potatoes from the greenhouse. What a delight, with 6 inches of snow on the ground ,to be eating Sunday lunch with new potatoes.
These potatoes were planted early August, 5 tubers to a Marshalls Gro-Sack, in Westland Compost with John Innes. The potatoes were grown on outside until October, when we cleared out the tomato crop. It’s important to keep up a regular watering regime and never waterlog the compost. Early November, with the shorter, cooler days the tops, having flowered, died back. And now we left them, un-watered, and cropped them for Christmas and New year. This year we’ve generally cropped between 2.0kg to 3.2 Kg per Gro-Sack. The yields from autumn potatoes may not be impressive, but the experience definitely is.
Of course, the truth is that when the foliage died back that in November it was the end of the growing cycle. But left un-disturbed the tubers in their Gro-Sacks stayed in perfect condition for delicious Xmas new potatoes.
Yesterday’s February new potatoes were also accompanied by some superb Extra Early Rudolph Sprouting Broccoli – which started cropping later than usual in October, went through a thin patch and is now throwing up masses of tiny tender shoots