Newest Review: ... Sounds simple? It is! But I have used these before and wouldn't recommend them purely because the potatoes that grew from the seed wer... more
Member Name: katestuartuk
Advantages: Easy to grow, very versitile, cheap, good for you!
I love a decent tattie bogle, or, as you perhaps may call them, a spud. Potato, spud, tattie, however you label them, they are infact one of the most versatile vegetables around. Whatís more, they are easy to grow. Infact, they grow whether you will them to or not! Potatoes were always a big part of our staple diet while we were growing up. My dad was a Scotsman who adored potatoes and liked nothing better than to grow his own, in either our or a neighboursí back garden. As children, we werenít that great at eating our tatties, and I remember once dad put food colouring in our mashed potato to get us to eat it. Green, blue and pink I think it was, a small round ice-cream scoop of each! I wouldnít recommend this now, unless you were using natural dyes (like beetroot for example), but it certainly got us eating up our spuds like there was no tomorrow!
My favourite potato is the Maris Piper. I havenít yet grow this myself, favouring the King Edward and the Maris Peer so far for ease of growing. However, that is to change this year as I am about to place my order for a bag of seed potatoes for next years potato harvest, and yes, youíve guessed it, theyíre going to be Maris Pipers! As anyone who has run (or worked in) a chip shop will know, Maris Pipers are the potato of choice for the best quality chips. I spent some time working in a kebab shop while I was at university and would get daily lectures from Socrates, the Greek owner, on the best chipping potatoes, how best to peel them, and what a crime it was to smother them with sauce, curry or gravy. I would just nod and smile, and keep wrapping those chips for folk, but now that I actually grow my own potatoes, I have to say, I agree. I havenít seen a potato yet from my little garden plot that compares with the versatility of the Maris Piper!
My garden was laid to grass when I bought the house some years ago, but I rolled on in there and dug up the lot (all in one go and nearly killed myself in the process!!), determined to become self-sufficient in fruit and veg. I wrongly believed this was something that would happen overnight, but have since learned that these things take time and energy and a great deal of cosseting! I have had much success with apples, raspberries, herbs and onions, but my greatest success so far has to be the potato crops I have had. Growing King Edwards and Maris Peers, I have had bumper crops which Iíve had to give away to friends and family, as there were far too many for me alone, and I had no-where suitable to store them long-term. Storage is now not a problem, and this year I have dug an extra bed to plant up with tatties, so I will hopefully have enough to see me through the winter next year Ė home-grown potatoes for Christmas lunch 2007! I canít wait!
My vegetable plot is to the left of my back garden, close to the house for easy transport of fruit and veg to the kitchen. I have four square plots with a reclaimed brick path making a cross shape between them. I also have a newly claimed long bed against the back hedge, which will also be laid to tatties this year. I will be growing French beans (or green beans as the shops call them!), carrots, onions, courgettes, parsnips, broccoli and leeks, as well as brussel sprouts and spinach later in the year. If I have space, Iíd like to keep a few turnips on the go, and Iím going to try and find some large containers to have a go at some butternut squashes. So next year is going to be a hive of activity in my little sunny plot, and I am just going to have to bide my time over the winter and dream about sun filled days in the garden, tending my plants and harvesting my crops!
If I was going to give one single tip for growing potatoes, it would be to make sure the soil is pulled up right over the leaf growth to protect the potatoes that are growing beneath from going green with the extra light. A thick mulch of compost or wood chippings can help this a lot, and also provides nutrition for the growing potatoes. Also, watering them a lot helps them to plump up and get all nice and fat, which is a good thing in the lad of potatoes!
Potatoes donít take much effort really, and you can even grow them in a barrel or a deep pot. I have seen people growing spuds in old grow-bags Ė they just add more soil to the bag every time the green shoots of the plant show through. Ingenious! I find also that once youíve grown potatoes, they always seem to come back and haunt you unless you get every last part of the plant out of the ground when you harvest the crop. Iíve put potato peelings to my compost bin, and found 2 years later tiny potato plants growing where Iíve mulched trees and plants! Sometimes I just leave them though, as a potato is a potato, however it happens to have grown!
The best way to eat spuds is boiled, with real butter, salt and pepper. However, if youíre feeling a bit fancy, you can roast them, with their skins still on, cut into slices and drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and sprigs of rosemary. This is a particular favourite of mine, and itís so easy and quick. There is something special I think about growing, cooking and eating your own food Ė almost as though the potato, or carrot or parsnip remembers your hard work and effort, and lets you have a tiny taste of it back again. It is certainly a grand thing to know that what youíre putting in your mouth hasnít been anywhere near a chemical or pesticide. Worth all the effort, I say!
To conclude, I would say that if you have the space, grown some tatties. All you need are a few of your shop bought ones, leave them on a windowsill some time in March, and let them grow little white fleshy roots. Dig a trench in your garden about 3 times the depth of the tattie youíre going to plant, pop it in and cover it over. Every time you see green shoots coming up, cover them with soil, keep watering, keep weeding, and come September/October time youíll be feasting on home-grown produce.
There are lots of books about the subject which talk about main crop and earlies and first earlies, but to be honest, my opinion is donít read books, get out and do. The books will only confuse you Ė the potatoes will tell you what to do, simply by doing their own thing. Believe in them, and yourself, and make your garden grow!!!
Happy planting and thank you for reading, Kate x
Summary: An easy crop to grow, regardless how little space you have, and fantastic to eat!