Storrington Allotment Growers Association

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Friday, 25 October 2013 17:03

Something new . . . an update

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I promised I would update you on how my experiments this year went. Well, good news and bad. The raised beds have been great, although I did have to rebuild the first one – my fault for using brass screws instead of stainless steel outdoor ones! You’ve probably noticed that the paths between the beds are still covered just with black weed matting but I intend to cover the matting with woodchips.

For my potatoes I tried growing in black polythene potato sacks, which was a great success. When I first filled them the holes looked far too small for the roots to even find, let alone grow through. But somehow they managed. The potatoes came out clean and undamaged by pests and harvesting. They were a real success and I will use them again next year. The bags are quite strong and are supposed to last for at least 5 years.

Unfortunately the potatoes themselves were a mixed success. Of all the years to try blight resistant varieties, I had to choose the one year where no potato blight was reported anywhere in the country!! So I can’t report on their resistance, but I can say that the Sarpo Kilfi (which I grew as a late early) was a great success. They are torpedo shaped with a waxy white skin, have a good flavour and are good for baking and roasting. But they do break up a little when boiling. From one seed potato per bag they produced a yield of 800g each, so 8kg from 10 plants. Definitely one I will try again.

I can’t say the same about the Sarpo Mira maincrop ones. They may not have suffered blight, but many had surface scab (which the Kilfi didn’t), and much worse about half of them had what appears to be Potato Leaf Roll Virus (PLRV). Although I bought certified seed potatoes, PLRV only comes only from infected tubers, so I definitely won’t be trying these again, or buying from the same supplier. Fortunately PLRV doesn’t infect the soil, although my rotation plan means I won’t be growing potatoes in that bed for another 4 years. The flavour is not bad but, by the time you’ve cut out the brown bits, half the potato has gone. Also you dare not bake them as the virus is often only visible when you slice them open. The potatoes were quite large, some of them enormous, and the yield was pretty good at 1kg per plant, 8kg in total as 2 tubers failed to grow.

For next year I am considering growing Kilfi again, but alongside either Charlotte or Lady Christl. I know a number of you regularly grow these so any advice on how they do in our soil would be most welcome. In fact it would be nice to hear what type of plants or varieties you like to grow so if you feel like sharing your thoughts then get in touch with Charles and he can provide you with a password to be able to post on the SAGA website.

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