Archive for August, 2012

First the potatoes and now the carrots. Can veg growing get any more exciting than this? I grew these carrots in a bucket on a balcony, well above the pesky carrot fly’s cruising height, and have been rewarded with these spectacular psychedelic roots. I’ve never grown ‘Rainbow Mix’ before, but it’s on the list for next year already!

I was talking to fellow blogger Veronica at Through the Garden Gate about the enduring delight of digging up potatoes and she says for her the excitement never wanes as it’s like hunting for hidden treasure. And I really felt like this too, waiting to see which colours were next to appear. I marvelled that having sowed and thinned out the carrots randomly, there was still an even amount of oranges, reds, purples and yellows in the bucket. So after the quickest of washes, I started nibbling at the different colours and found that they were all remarkably sweet. What’s more, they retain their colour when cooked.

I have to admit that the purple ones are my favourites though as they still have an orange flesh which contrasts in a very groovy fashion with their rich exterior. These purple carrots can be bought separately as ‘Purple Haze’ or ‘Cosmic Purple’ -still firmly in the realms of psychedelia then!

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Wow, I love digging up potatoes. Especially when they look like this! I grew a selection of colourful tubers sent to me by  Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes, as well as my all time favourite, Pink Fir Apple, at my allotment this year.

I grew these on top of grass à la no dig, as per my last post, initially covering them with about five inches of compost.  However, I hardly earthed them up (mainly due to my lack of energy to haul bags of compost to the site) and just left them to do their own thing all summer. Buoyed by my Charlotte potato success, I thought  I’d see how they were coming along after all the rain (and finally a bit of sun). Although the yields are not quite as large, due to my lack of earthing up , I’m still really chuffed with a decent crop of my beautiful multi coloured tubers (and my knobbly Pink Fir Apples). The larger purple potatoes on the left and in the top image are Arran Victory, named in 1918 in celebration of the ending of the first world war. They have a high dry matter and are good for everything except boiled potatoes. The dark pink are Red Duke of Yorks (1942) and the lighter pink are Red King Edwards (1916) -both good all rounders with their skin happily retaining their colour when cooked.

Last night I made lilac mashed potatoes out of the Salad Blue Earlies (cross-section above), which according to the Carroll’s website is a novelty potato dating back to the early 1900’s and not a salad potato at all! Very tasty, but slightly disconcerting alongside my pinkish salmon!

I’m never really convinced about the value of growing main crop potatoes when my growing space is somewhat limited, but these heritage potatoes make my heart sing, so I will definitely be continuing my ‘no dig’ experiments in a more ordered fashion with some of these good-looking lovelies next year.

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Back in April (about 16 weeks ago), inspired by Charles Dowding’s experiments on his ‘no dig’ farm, I planted up three Charlotte potatoes straight on top of fresh grass as a ‘no dig’ growing experiment in our community front garden. I initially covered them with 6 inches of compost and then earthed them up just once after about 7 weeks.

Today, neighbour Julia and her daughter helped me dig up the crop to see how successful my trial had been. Although the potatoes had flowered a good few weeks ago, I left them to continue to grow as I was worried that the rain would have held them back a bit.

I needn’t have worried. Some of these are whoppers, not very ‘new potato’ in size, but I’m mightily impressed.

From the original potato trio, we harvested a very respectable 15lbs worth.

So there you have it. It works!  And I’m never gonna dig again. (‘guilty trees I’ve got no sedum’-a Cantona-esque rendition for all those George Michael fans out there!)

P.s. More ‘no dig’ success with gorgeous heritage potatoes here

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