Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

August Gardening Advice

August 1st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Mr-Fothergills-August-Gardening-Advice

Temperatures are soaring, the sun is shining; summer is well and truly here.

Flowers are bursting with vibrant colour. From golden heleniums to fiery dahlias, the reds, oranges and yellows have taken over from the pastel shades of spring.

But with scorching weather comes the ongoing battle to prevent plants from drying out. Watering cans and hoses are the gardener’s ally, but use water sensibly. Water butts, drip irrigation systems and water-retention gels are good items to have in your arsenal.

August is also the month for harvesting your homegrown fruit and veg. Try to manage your gluts by blanching and freezing any excess veg for a later date. Or, be the most popular person in your street by sharing produce with your neighbours!

Summer won’t last forever, but while it’s here, take the time to relax in the garden with a glass of something cold, and enjoy the fruits of your labours.

 

In the flower garden

HOLIDAY

August is traditionally the month to pack your suitcase and get away from it all. If you are going away, ensure you make plans to keep your garden from drying out. Ask a neighbour to pop over once every few days to water and check on your garden. If you have pots and containers, group them all together under some shade, to make the job easier. Keep greenhouses ventilated, and if necessary, create some shade to prevent your plants from getting scorched.

DEADHEADING

Deadhead regularly to keep flowers blooming into autumn. Fresh blooms not only look good, but continue to feed bees, butterflies and hoverflies, which are essential to a garden’s wellbeing. Sweet peas will be keen to set seed, so it’s important to deadhead daily.

PERENNIALS

With heavy blooms and ever-growing stems, plants such as dahlias and gladioli will need staking. This extra support will not only prevent damage, but discourage ground pests from attacking low-lying plants.

Summer-gardening-cut-your-lavender

LAVENDER

Stop lavender from becoming leggy by cutting into a compact shape, but don’t cut too far back as new flowers can’t grow on old wood. Use the cut flowers around the home. You could create lavender pouches to scent drawers or pillow cases.

WISTERIA

Ideally, you want to prune wisteria twice a year. Once in late winter, and once now in august. There’s been a lot of growth during the summer months, so cut these newly-formed long laterals back to the fifth set of leaves on each shoot, and tie-in where necessary. This restricts the growth, creates better ventilation, hardens the remaining summer growth, and encourages new flower buds for next year.

HEDGES

Hedges can become unruly in summer, so now’s the time to give them a prune. Whether you’re using shears or a hedge trimmer, think about how you want your hedge to look. Work from the bottom up in a smooth, controlled motion. Prune all sides and finish with the top. Wear protective clothing and use the correct height support if the hedge is high. Once completed, clear away all debris.

WATERING

This year, temperatures have been at their hottest, and our gardens and allotments are relying on us to sustain them.

Whether there’s a hosepipe ban in your area or not, using water sensibly is a good habit to get into too. Make use of water butts, re-use old dish water, and water early in the morning or at dusk, when the lower temperatures mean less water evaporation.

Keeping your garden well-weeded also ensures the water goes to the plants that need it.

If you’re planting up containers and hanging baskets, add water retention gel to the compost. If you’re growing tomatoes, create a drip irrigation system.

Every drop of water you save means less strain on our reservoirs.

POND

In the warmer weather, check pond levels daily. Remove any build-up of algae and weeds, placing it beside the pond overnight. This will give any captured wildlife the opportunity to return to the water. If you have water plants, now is the time to thin them. Clean the pumps and filters of any water features you may have.

 

On the veg patch

FEED

You should be feeding your tomatoes weekly now to ensure a healthy, tasty crop, but potash/tomato feed can also be used for cucumbers, aubergines, peppers, chillies and even sweetcorn plants.

MAIN POTATOES

As the leaves on your main crop start to turn yellow and wither, start digging them up. If you’re not going to eat them straight away, rest them on the topsoil for a few hours to dry the excess moisture, then place in hessian sacks. Ideally, the sacks should be stored somewhere with ventilation, where it’s cool, dark and pest-free. Check on them regularly to make sure none have spoilt.

ONIONS AND SHALLOTS

With foliage bent over and turning yellow, onions and shallots are now ready for lifting. Once lifted, leave them on the surface of the soil for a few hours to dry in the sunshine. Then, shake off the excess soil from the roots, careful not to damage them, and place somewhere warm so they can dry out. After a week, or two, they should be ready for storing somewhere cool, dark and dry. Either tie them together and hang them up, or place them in onion bags. Both storage methods should prevent mould, but check regularly to make sure none have perished.

Mr-Fothergills-growing-beans-from-sowing-to-harvestBEANS

Whether it’s runner beans or French beans, the key is to pick them regularly. By doing so, you’re preventing them from setting seed. Ensure they are well watered, and that the base of the plant is well-mulched. Once the plant reaches the top of its staked cane, pinch out the top.

PESTS AND DISEASES

August is the time for pests and diseases. Heat, humidity, and occasional rainfall are the perfect conditions to encourage blight. Check both tomato and potato plants regularly. If you see any signs of the fungal infestation, remove plant/s altogether. If you catch it at an early stage with your potatoes, leave the tubers in the ground, as they may not be affected. Do not place infected plants on the compost heap. Instead, either burn immediately or remove from the site altogether. To reduce blight, encourage a crop rotation system, and try to use blight resistant varieties.

Cabbage White Butterflies will be eyeing up your brassicas to lay their eggs. Check your crops regularly, and remove any eggs or pests you find. Net your crops, use brassica collars when planting out, and introduce nematodes to control caterpillars.

 

PICK REGULARLY

Courgettes, marrows and cucumbers will continue to produce so long as you pick regularly. Cut away excess foliage to help sunshine reach your crops and to prevent powdery mildew. Mildew can also be prevented by watering at the base of the plant rather than on the leaves.

FRUIT

With gooseberries now harvested, it’s the perfect time to prune the plant. You want to create a ‘goblet’ shape to encourage as much ventilation as possible. Remove the inner branches of the plant, and reduce the rest of the plant to about six leaves per branch. This will encourage fresh shoots to grow.

Keep an eye on plum and apple trees that might be weighed down by fruit. If the tree appears to be stressed, support and tie-in where possible. If you’re growing grapes, ensure the growing vines are being tied-in regularly.

Summer raspberry canes should have now fruited. Cut back the fruit canes, and encourage fresh new canes by tying them onto a support.

SOW

Although we’re mostly harvesting now, there are still things to grow. Succession sow salad leaves and spring onions for a continuous crop, and beetroot, kohlrabi and pak choi can also be sown now for a late harvest.

GREEN MANURE

As your veg beds start to empty, consider sowing green manure if you don’t plan to grow  winter crops. Not only will it improve the quality of the soil, but it will help suppress weeds.

 

 

How to Choose the Best Potatoes For Your Garden [video]

January 30th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

how to choose the best potatoes to grow in your garden

Do you enjoy eating potatoes, in their many, many different forms? Well, there are plenty of potatoes to suit all tastes and all culinary applications for you to choose from. Choose to grow the right selection and you can enjoy all the fried, boiled and mashed potatoes you can eat throughout the year! Here is a short video on how to choose the best potatoes for your garden!

  • Different varieties of potatoes contain different levels of starch and this gives them different textures.  It also means they will show different habits when cooking them, so it is vital to choose the potato for your tastes and culinary needs.
  • Potatoes high in starch absorb more liquids, therefore causing the potato to break apart during cooking. These are perfect for baking, mashing and making wedges.
  • Waxy potatoes contain less starch and therefore keep their shape when steamed or boiled. This means they are ideal for use in soups and salads.
  • Potatoes are also spilt into sub-types according to when you can expect to crop them:
  1. First earlies grow fast and are ready to eat by summer
  2. Second earlies follow on a couple of weeks later
  3. Maincrop are usually ready mid to late summer and are perfect for overwinter storing
  • Early potatoes are naturally smaller in size than main crop potatoes, and often they won’t store for as long.
  • These are all qualities you must consider when choosing your variety of potatoes.

Watch the video for a tour through the world of the potato and why not have a read of this article that has fascinating facts and figures about the not-so-humble potato.  Once you have started growing your crops you might want to take a look at this video that gives you tips on how to control blight, a common affliction of potatoes in vegetable plots around the country. And did you know that potatoes can be grown very effectively in containers? So there is no need for a large veg plot for growing them.  If you fancy giving it a go once you have lifted your crops, then try a potato clamp for overwintering your precious crops.

Which are you favourite potatoes to grow? And how early do you plant and crop your potatoes? If you have any top tips then post in the comments below.

How to Choose the Best Potatoes For Your Garden

5 Ways to Control Potato Blight [video]

August 4th, 2016 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Potato BlightPotato blight is a fungal disease that can devastate healthy potatoes rapidly. Understanding how blight appears and how to deal with it can help you save as much of your potato crop as possible. This video offers top tips on how to control potato blight.

  1. Symptoms of late blight include brown/black spots on the leaves which can in time spread to the stems as brown patches. Undersides of leaves can take on a white appearance in wet weather.
  2. As soon as you spot blight on your crops, cut out light infections with sharp pruners. After each cut wipe down blades with antibacterial wipes and try not too touch any healthy plants. If the blight has covered the entire plant you may have to cut the stems completely.
  3. Some potato varieties show a level of resistance to blight, plant these in the future if you have a plot that is prone to blight.
  4. Potato blight is more likely to strike in warm, moist conditions. If you need to water your plants then try not to wet the leaves. If you make a habit of watering in the mornings any excess moisture will also quickly evaporate.
  5. Ensure that during harvest, every last potato has been dug out. This will prevent the infection spreading to future crops.  (It also prevents volunteers popping up where you don’t want them next year too!)

These are just a few tips on protecting against potato blight, the video below offers further details on these tips. If you have any top tips of your own for dealing with potato blight, do let us know in the comments or on social media.

5 Ways to Control Potato Blight

What to do in the Garden in July

July 1st, 2016 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

In the garden in July, we need to recover from June. Didn’t we used to call it ‘flaming June’? We saw very little sunshine during the month, and far too many torrential downpours, which have not done our trial ground any favours. While the soil is on the light side and often lacks moisture, it certainly does not need what seemed at times like a month’s rainfall in half an hour.

And with the rain and the warmth which accompanied it come what we believe is the gardener’s worst enemy – slugs! They are one of the most destructive pests, especially when you consider they can eat twice their own body weight daily. If you too are bothered by slugs, we have the answer for you. Nemaslug® controls all common species of small to medium sized slugs, with one application providing up to six weeks of protection.
Nemaslug® uses nematodes (Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita), naturally occurring microscopic living organisms already present in the soil. Unlike chemical pellets, the nematodes continue to work well during wet weather. Start your control early and you will be able to target the young slugs growing under the ground before they do any damage. Slugs are generally active when plants start growing and soil temperature is above 5°C.

This renowned and proven biological control is easy to apply, safe and harmless to humans, pets, birds and other wildlife. Nemaslug needs to be used as soon as you receive it and, once made, the solution should not be kept. We also offer similar Nemasys products to combat chafer grubs, vine weevils, leatherjackets and ants.

Flowers Garden in July

July should be a month of enjoying the flower garden, cutting blooms for the house, appreciate scents and the profusion of colour. It’s our reward for the effort we have put in earlier to try and make it as attractive as possible. Remember to cut sweet peas every day to encourage them to produce more and more of their fragrant flowers. Any faded blooms should also be removed from the plants to prevent them from producing seed and thinking their work is complete.

Once hardy geraniums (cranesbills) have finished flowering, it is worth cutting them back to encourage them to produce a further flush of their blooms later in the summer. Many species and varieties of this easy-to-manage perennial can be grown from seed. Why not try our Splish Splash or our Mixture of species?

 Garden in JulyVegetables

An important element of vegetable growing is planning for the future, and while you may be lifting delicious new potatoes at the moment, how about growing some for autumn crop? Who knows, you may be lifting ‘new’ potatoes for Christmas lunch!

Our late cropping spuds have been kept in a cool store to stop them shooting, but once taken out in mid July, they quickly come into growth. Planted in late July, they will crop from October and with a little straw protection, through to Christmas.

Our collection of late-cropping potatoes includes 10 tubers each of Gemson, Charlotte and Nicola, plus a free 500g pack of potato fertiliser. Here is why what you receive:

Gemson
Bred from Maris Peer, this new variety has a delicious flavour, producing generous yields of small, oval tubers with smooth white skin and firm, creamy flesh. Highly recommended for steaming and boiling and serving as a new potato, hot or cold, with salads.

Charlotte
Lovely as a ‘new potato’ and wonderful cold in salads, it stays firm when cooked and can be sauted or even roasted.  A long oval variety, producing yellow skinned waxy potatoes with creamy yellow flesh.  Fine flavoured and highly recommended.

Nicola

Long white tubers with creamy yellow, waxy flesh and a superb sweet, nutty taste, plus good resistance to blight and scab.  Highly recommended as boiled new potatoes or in salads.

Do you still have some space in the vegetable garden or were there some summer-cropping veg you just did not get round to sowing this year? We can help because we have just started despatching vegetable plants – all expertly grown and ready to go into the garden as soon as you receive them. You can take your pick from brassicas – cabbage, broccoli, kale, savoy and cauliflower – plus courgettes, dwarf beans and runner beans. They will really help you make up for lost time, and in a few short weeks you will be harvesting your delicious fresh produce.

Fruit Garden in July

Think of Wimbledon and we think of strawberries! How do you like the thought of growing your own British-bred strawberries, capable of producing their crop just 30 days after planting this summer? That’s the promise that comes with our ‘Berry Quick’ Sweetheart strawberry plants.
Here’s how we do it. in Plants are lifted in September and October, with flower initiation already begun – and then they are frozen. Around the middle of April the plants are thawed, potted and grown on at our nursery. By mid May the plants are well developed and need just 30 days more growth before they start producing their berries.
Strawberry Sweetheart was bred at East Malling Research in Kent; Its sweet and juicy berries are conical in shape and have good colour and a superb ‘old fashioned’ flavour. The plants fruit whether in the ground, container, window box or hanging basket.

Save

Care and cultivation of Seed Potatoes

January 22nd, 2015 | The vegetable garden | 1 Comment

After unpacking your seed potatoes, put them in a cool, light, well ventilated and frost free place, away from direct sunlight.

Seed potatoes from Mr Fothergill'sPotatoes can be divided into four categories, planted from March to May (after any danger of frosts).

The chitting process allows strong green shoots (chits) to develop on the seed potato tuber before planting. Although not essential it is particularly beneficial for the earlier cropping potatoes, because it gives the potato a quick start thus cropping slightly earlier.  Later cropping potatoes are less likely to need chitting as warmer soil temperatures can make a greater difference.

Start chitting (where necessary) by setting the seed potatoes out, side by side, blunt end uppermost, in single layers in seed trays or a wooden box. Place in a light, cool, well-ventilated spot to encourage the development of stocky shoots 2-2.5cm (three quarters to 1 inch) long, prior to planting.

You can order your seed potatoes from Mr Fothergill’s on the website, or by mail order from our catalogue.

Soil Preparation and Planting

Before planting it is worth considering ‘crop rotation’.  Potatoes are susceptible to a wide range of minor pests and also one or two major ones. Potato pests have a limited survival time if they cannot get at the potatoes, so by the standard three crop rotation will help in keeping pests at bay.

Potatoes thrive in deep, fertile and well drained soils.  Soil conditions prior to planting are more important than precise planting times.  Prepare the soil well before planting, breaking down any clumps and adding a quality fertilizer or manure. Planting too early in cold, wet soils may cause rotting.  We recommend you delay planting until the soil is both warm and moist to touch.  In most areas this is in the March to May period.

Planting times and distances

  • First and Second Earlies plant from mid to late March, 25 to 30cm (10-12 inches) apart in rows 60cm (2ft) apart.
  • All Maincrop tubers plant from early to late April, 30 to 36cm (12-14 inches) apart in rows 70 to 76 cm (28-30 inches) apart.

Plant all tubers 10 to 15cm (4-6 inches) deep.  Cover the tubers and any shoots with at least 2.5cm (1 inch) of soil. Once the shoots appear above the soil surface, they will need to be earthed up by forming ridges. This gives the plant a volume of soil in which to grow; it stops the tubers turning green, improves drainage and ventilation.  It is also an effective way of controlling weeds.  Repeat this process until the foliage is too big to allow it to happen.

Harvesting

Plants are ready to dig for the first ‘new potatoes’ when the tops reach full size. Weather permitting, the will usually attempt to produce flowers, or at least buds at this time.  When harvesting remove all tubers, however small, to avoid problems with any diseases next year and to prevent volunteers from appearing in your plot.