The Straw Cottage

eco-accommodation and growing experiments on a small scale

Happy New Year


2014 resolution number 1 – start blogging – been meaning to for a few years now! Just get on with it woman!!

First one about growing potatoes – been drafting it (and the accompanying report) for weeks so might be too long winded. Resolution number 2 – try to be quick and brief 🙂

Growing potatoes Potato notes 2013

I grow early or “new” potatoes because they are very popular with my family. Nothing surpasses the taste of a freshly dug new potato. Also, from an organic growing point of view, you can get a decent crop of early potatoes before the arrival of blight.

Summer 2012 was very wet – perfect conditions for the spread of blight. I was able to save my crop by simply cutting off the tops of the potatoes at the first sign of blight. As the crop below ground was fairly well developed by then we could just dig them up as required and they were as fresh and tasty as usual. Commercial potato growers spray their crops many times through the growing season to keep blight infections at bay. As I refuse to use any chemical intervention, I could lose my entire crop if I were to grow main crop varieties in a blight year (although a lady staying in the straw bale holiday cabin told me how a man on her allotment could manage to grow a potatoes despite blight by covering them in some fine green mesh he recycled from a building sites – I’ve made a note to try this next year!).

Summer 2013 was sunny and dry and I grew good yields of new potatoes. The report above (click next to title) gives a lot more detail. Here is a summary

  • New potatoes are easy to grow in the UK
  • I can grow higher yields in my garden than is possible on a farm scale
  • I can achieve those higher yields without machines. Fuel or chemicals
  • Potatoes have a high yield of calories per m2- This was useful historically when calories were in short supply and may be useful if we have food security issues in the future – or for fattening livestock.
  • Potatoes have a high GI but this can be moderated when eaten with fat and salad or vegetables.
  • 2014 to do list – try more early varieties, save own seed, follow with another crop, try a blight resistant main crop.

Author: Carol Atkinson

Farmer's wife, mother, straw bale builder, running two eco holiday cottages - now delving more into food production

4 thoughts on “Happy New Year

  1. You’re right about the newly dug potatoes. I grew them for the first time last year and can’t go back!

  2. Can you remember what variety you planted? Have you picked out any varieties to try this year? Seed catalogues keep falling on my mat but I’ve resisted the temptation to dive into them just yet!

    • Transition Chesterfield are having a Potato Day for local folk to buy varieties of seed potatoes as well as onions, garlic and shallots. Some of the Loughborough transition group went last year and a bigger group are going this year. It is on Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:30am – 3pm, see link for details Maybe if it isn’t too far from you you could have a look. I’m sure lots of the Transitioners would be very interested in what you are doing with all your veg. I am finding it very interesting and love the photos! It is spurring me on to do much more with my mud patch of a garden 🙂

      • Thanks Judy, that’s an interesting site the Chesterfield transitioners have. I’ve made a note to go back and look at the varieties when I start to look at seed catalogues (when the accounts are done – which is what I should be doing now, but easily distracted!)

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