Friday, August 27, 2010


Growing pototoes in bags seemed to be a popular thing this year.  Our sack of eaters we had from our farmer were already ready to sprout when he gave them to us -we could always palnt them, he suggested.

We haven't grown much veg the last couple of years, for one reason or another, and we never did grow spuds; all those blight susceptible things just seemed too problematical.  However, when there seemed to be a lot of talk about potato bags, I thought I'd try it.  We always overbuy on compost, so we had plenty of that about, and the aforesaid sprouty potatoes, and then there are these woven plastic sacks which the Royal Mail in the UK sometimes generously and unnecessarily supply us with, usually with an already perfectly adequately wrapped small parcel containing a book inside.  They've always looked like they ought to be reusable, but we hadn't yet thought what for.

So all the components were already in our possession. I put some straw in the bottom ( another thing we still have in abundance from our long-past days of keeping hens), a layer of compost, five or six of the most promising sprouty spuds, and then more compost. I watered them well and stood them on the terrace.

After a bit some green plants came up.  You let them grow and then earth them up with some more compost, unrolling the bag top as you go.  This bit always reminds me of a family anecdote about an old Norfolk man who saw someone somewhere whom my parents knew earthing up his potatoes and asked ' Are ye moulderin arn her up?'

Here they are at a fairly early stage of their growth. 

I repeated this maybe four times, then left them to grow. When the plant, it's called a haulm, goes manky yellow and dies back, after two or three months, you can harvest them. Which we did today.

Large quantities of compost were shaken out into the wheelbarrow, with nerry a sign of a tater, but then towards the bottom they started to show themselves.  In all there were just on two kilos, four and a bit pounds, which wasn't much for all the volume of compost, but they were clean and look good.

I brushed the loose compost off them with a clean paintbrush -  a very useful tool for all manner of purposes, including cleaning the computer keyboard, though you should make sure it's free of potato compost first - and stored them in a big paper bag.

Verdict - if you buy potato-growing bags, compost and seed potatoes specially, it probably isn't worth it, except for the fun of growing things - finding creamy new potatoes in among black soil is like finding presents in a bran tub.  As most of the crop was in the bottom part of the bag, it seems to me the last couple of additions of soil were wasted, you could probably do as well just using big pots and adding much less.  Most of the people I've spoken to who have tried it, or the famous Bob Flowerdew tyre stack method, tend to agree it's not a very economically sensible way of getting potatoes, they didn't have many.  On the other hand, for me using stuff I'd already got, it was quite fun.  The compost can be used again elsewhere, as it still looks and smells fine.  Also. you can have delicious new potatoes at almost any time of year, and it doesn't take up much room.

So that's supper sorted out.  We'll have them with just some chopped spring onions (scallions) , and maybe something garlicky, since we're not planning on seeing anyone else for a day or so.


marja-leena said...

Oh, this is making my green thumb itch! I've never grown these for want of a veggie patch but just might try this method since I've been hearing so much about it. You can't beat all the vitamins and taste in fresh-picked homegrown, can you?

Elizabeth said...

If I remeber correctly, all you need is a small pice of potato with an eye on it, so if you cut the taters up, you get more plants...hence more taters! They are worth yummy.
Glad you had fun with it.
Pax, Elizabeth

The Crow said...

What I remember about my father's potato patch is having to pick off the beetles, then the grubs. However, with six kids on the job, it wasn't too horrible a chore, plus we had wonderful potatoes to look forward to. In the fall, after the trees were pruned of dead wood, we'd have a potato and apple roast in the bonfire from the prunings. Good treats, good memories from childhood. Thanks for the memory trigger, Lucy.

Your spuds look yummy, compost and all.

HLiza said...

The last collage is so creative..I've never looked at potatoes this made them beautiful. I don't think anybody grow potatoes over her..they're not for our climate. But I don't grow anything at all's get in the way..that's my excuse.

Zhoen said...

Wonderful potatoes.

I love my dozen cayenne chilis.

Dale said...

It does sound like fun!

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh wonderful, home grown potatoes just taste so much better, even if it isn't hugely economical to do it this way.

Roderick Robinson said...

I seem to be monopolising your blog of late, often going on and on. It's your fault because of the subjects you choose. My views on horticulture and mini-agricultire are well known (these activities are for other people) but taters are an exception. They're so rewarding, there are always some to be rootled out. Other plants wither, succumb to mange and pass inexplicably into fallow mode but taters offer the thrill of the chase and the bonus of successful resolution. Mrs BB and I are presently addicted to the knobbly Anya(??? spelling) marque but we simply eat them. Neither of us has the talent to turn them into a work of art in the subtlest of montages. Chapeau, Luce

Lucy said...

Thank you all for such nice comments.

You can't beat homegrown, and I'd recommend it, with the provisos I've suggested, as fairly idiot-proof and no weeding or de-bugging required. They really were delicious, and there's still quite a few left! In fact I think a large bowl of fresh boiled new potatoes, with butter and/or mayo, spring onions and garlic, might be my idea of the perfect supper.

I only just noticed that fiddling about with my layout as I have been, I managed to slice the right edge off the collage you've been so nice about. However, main-wrapper settings have now been satisfactorily readjusted. I rather like the effect of using on image as background like that.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Wacko! they look great. I have four varieties in the ground or in tubs. Time will tell how well they turn out. Haven't tried sacks. I suspect they may dry out too quickly in my part of the world.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

OK, I'll be over for supper later! (-;

Unknown said...

You are right about the sparse crop that potato bags bring. I meant to warn you after I breached the first of my experemental one. But yours made good photographs.

Rouchswalwe said...

Ich liebe Kartoffeln!