22 August 2022

This week there are a few important jobs needing doing.

Firstly, we’re sowing the seeds of zucchini and cucumber.  As they’re such big seeds, we sow directly into the final pot.  You can put two seeds in if you like, but one will most likely do it.  Fill the pot with potting mix (no need to sieve it), lay the seed(s) on the top and press them down about 1 cm.  For a good cropper, Partenon is a great zucchini.  We like to give our seedlings a good soak in liquid seaweed, then onto a tray and the windowsill.  We’ll sow more towards the end of the year when these plants have exhausted themselves.

Next, it’s time to chit early season potatoes.  Using the same liquid seaweed solution, place your seed potatoes in the bath for around 15-20 minutes.  After the soak, we put our potatoes in egg cartons with the variety clearly marked and sit them on a windowsill.  Give them a soak like this every week and it’ll make them nice and healthy and strong when they finally go in the ground in the Full Moon phase in September and October.

Now is a good time to prepare the early potatoes that take a bit longer in the ground eg Jersey Bennes and Cliffs Kidney.  We’ll plant these in September.  In September, we’ll chit the very early season potatoes like Rocket and Swift and plant them in October.  This is so we have beautiful new potatoes on Christmas Day.  If you live in areas that still get frosts in September, either wait till October, or, when you know you’re likely to have a frost, cover the plants with frost cloth, or an old sheet or Mikroclima.

Our third job is digging in our green manure crop of lupins. 

Firstly I top them with the hedge trimmers.

Then loosen their roots with a fork, gently pulling the plants fully or partially out of the soil. After that, I apply some garden lime to help with the breakdown and this bed should be lovely and nutritious by the time we get to plant it up.  This year I have zucchini, cucumber, sweetcorn, pumpkin planned for this bed and they all like lots of good food.

Lastly it’s cleanup time with the making of a hot compost.  We have plenty of biomass from all the big leafy waste from the brassicas, although it has broken down considerably with all the rain. 

We have some nice woodchips from a recently chopped down tree to help with the carbon side of things as well as egg cartons, then grass clippings and biomass for the nitrogen components, and activators in the form of chicken manure, rock dust and coffee grounds, and finally the last of the last compost I made. 

We layer ours in this order… grass clippings, egg cartons, biomass, wood chips (only if you’ve got them), then coffee grounds/chicken manure/rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser), and either soil or compost.  Repeat this about 3 times.  Water each time you repeat or if everything is damp, then just at the end.  Be generous with the watering.

Cover with black polythene or similar.

Turn in two weeks and it should be all ready for you when it comes to planting the main summer crops 😊

Happy gardening!

From Jan and Rob

10 Responses

  1. I’ve never grown Potatoes before and just wondering are Seed Potatoes special,
    or are they just potatoes that have started to sprout?
    I’ve been following your Blogs for a little time now and they are so helpful.
    So a Big thank you.

    1. Hi Caroline Seed potatoes are special. Firstly, they’re certified free of diseases; they’re grown with the sole intention of high yields; and often conventionally-grown potatoes are sprayed to stop them sprouting on the shop shelf, which is what a seed potato is designed to do. You can get them at garden centres or hardware stores or online at places like Newton Seeds. Thanks for the question 😊

  2. I have some old potatoes from last year that have started to sprout and feel a bit rubbery by now. Can I use those to plant this years crop?

  3. This is so informative and easy to follow instructions I am having a go at growing potatoes this year and hopefully will have a good crop and yes I did buy seed potatoes.Growing supermarket sprouted Potatoes really does not work so well or hasn’t for me.Thank you so much

  4. Rob, I’m curious with the compost sealed under black plastic rather than exposed to air. Is this a method of anearobic composting you’re using? If so, how long does it take to become “usable”? Mike

    1. Hi Mike Not anaerobic, there is air coming in under some corners of the black plastic. If we had made the heap in a slatted compost bin, we would have just tucked the black plastic over the top, but freestyle like this it needs to be weighted down. The black plastic helps heat up the heap quickly so it reaches 60-70°C after a couple of days. It also helps protect it from wind and rain. We’ll turn this heap once after 2 weeks and it’ll be ready for use in a couple of weeks after that.

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