As many of you will know, I have recently taken on looking after a plot where the owners used to save seeds from their plants and sow them again, year on year, and I am going to try to preserve some of these true heritage veg. First up are some "Foremost" First Early potatoes, which I rescued during my preparatory digging. They were all very small ones, but most of them seem viable and they have produced some strong-looking chits (shoots):
I am going to give these ones the VIP treatment, and grow them in my own garden, in containers, rather than up at the new plot. Assuming they produce a reasonable crop, I will select the best ones for storage, with a view to planting them at the plot in Spring 2019. In the meantime, I'll grow some new "Foremost" at the plot, because I know the owners like this variety best.
I had about 15 saved tubers, but some of them were very tiny, so I decided I would plant the 9 best ones, three to a pot (approx. 30L size). This was heavily influenced by the fact that I have three plastic mini greenhouses which I can use to protect the pots until the weather improves sufficiently that they no longer need protection.
I used my trusty groundsheet as a base for preparing my growing-medium. I made a mixture of soil (originally from the raised beds I dismantled last year) and homemade compost - the latter with lots of organic matter in it, which will help to prevent Scab forming on the potatoes.
I also threw in a few handfuls of pelleted chicken manure.
Having filled each pot about one-third full, I sprinkled on a dusting of the Fish, Blood and Bone fertiliser. I've not used this before, but someone on Twitter told me it is good for spuds, so I'm giving it a try. I got it from Poundland (Guess how much it cost!). The instructions on the pack say to add 50g per square metre...
Another layer of soil/compost went in on top of the FBB. (I don't like the seed-tubers to be in direct contact with the fertiliser). Then, I gently pushed the potatoes into the soil/compost, positioned with the chits/shoots uppermost, and covered them over to a depth of just an inch or two.
Now some labels. I'm growing quite a lot of different varieties of potato this year, so I want to be able to tell which is which.
The final part of the process was to position the pots inside the mini-greenhouses.
For the time being I'm leaving the doors unzipped, because the temperatures are very mild. It was about 12C when I was planting those potatoes. If frost is forecast, I'll close them up.
In the next few days (as long as we get a decent dry spell) I intend to plant some more of my First Early potatoes, though before I do that I'll need to get the other plastic greenhouse thingies out of the garage and assemble them again. I think it's still too early to plant potatoes without protection, because I believe there is still a strong possibility that we will get more frost.