Grow your own Potatoes!

Solanum tuberosum 'Maris Piper' in wooden trug
Solanum tuberosum ‘Maris Piper’

Whether in an allotment or your own garden there is an undeniable joy in growing your own produce – and where better to start than with a classic staple – the potato! One of the most versatile vegetables, potatoes feature in the most traditional and creative dishes and can be a great addition to a healthy diet plan.

 

The potato is healthy – FACT!

  • Potato skins are a great source of fibre and potassium.
  • Salt free
  • Low in sugar
  • Potatoes are naturally saturated fat free (You can even find machines these days that will fry them into chips using as little oil as possible! Not that that makes them healthy!)

Potatoes are gluten free – great news for coeliacs!

Coeliac disease can be difficult to cater for, gluten free products are getting more varied (and tasting better) than a few years ago but they are often very expensive. The humble potato is cheap and gluten free.

Woman harvesting salad potatoes 'Bambino' grown in patio planter bag
Harvesting salad potatoes ‘Bambino’ grown in patio planter bag

You can grow potatoes in the smallest of spaces! If you have a smaller garden or simply want to keep your potato gardening organised try using grow bags. Our 40 litre Patio Potato Sacks will grow 5-7 seeds per sack. Find out how to grow potatoes in sacks here!

(See here how you can use the Patio Sacks to grow Asparagus or Rhubarb!)

 

 

SO …. now we’ve established potatoes are the best (!) we need to help you choose the right potato for you – because there are a lot of options!

Quick note: at J Parkers we sell certified seed potatoes which are supplied as grade 33-55cm seeds. 30 seeds weigh approximately 2-2.5kg (salads 1.5-2kg).

Potato Varieties

  1. Salad Potatoes (harvest June –September)

Charlotte are a favourite of all chefs, very useful for more than salads. A long oval shape, with a beautiful floury taste. Pink Fir Apple are a more traditional variety, suitable for boiling, baking or steaming. They are long knobbly in shape, with pink skin and a creamy coloured flesh.

  1. First Early harvest (June-July)

The earliest of all varieties to harvest from early June onwards. Red Duke of York and Arran Pilot are great all-purpose early varieties. Swift is one of the earliest to crop and can be used to boil, steam or mash. Pentland Javelinis an oval white skinned variety, ideal for boiling as a salad or a new potato due to the firmness they hold.

  1. Second Early Harvest (June-July)

They take a little longer to harvest than the first Early varieties – from late June. Bonnie is a very popular all-rounder. Maris Peer has a firm white variety with a high yield. The award winning Kestrel is very smooth in texture with purple eyes. Great old fashioned variety.

  1. Main Crop Varieties (harvest August-October)

These take the longest to harvest and take up slightly more space in the growing patch. King Edward and Maris Piper are well known all round favourites, while Cara is a heavy cropping variety with the added bonus of being very drought/disease resistant. Blue Belle is a more unusual looking variety with creamy skin and lilac eyes, but again a very strong/heavy cropper. Desiree is the best of all the red main crop varieties, ideal to boil, mash, chip or sauté.

 

 

Growing Asparagus in Patio Growing Sacks

Asparagus
Asparagus Backlim – End of season variety, thick spears. Excellent flavor.

You don’t have to use our Patio growing sacks for just potatoes – they work equally well for growing Asparagus! (you can even grow Rhubarb in them – check out our ‘How to’ video on growing Rhubarb in sacks with our in house garden expert Jeff Turner here.

 

You can get Asparagus all year round in supermarkets BUT recently there has been a huge drive to ‘support local’ so from April to June (British cropping season) the shelves will be full of UK varieties.

 

Asparagus will produce their first real crop 12 months after planting. If you are growing your own you can buy varieties to cover the whole cropping season – see J Parker’s range here.

 

Asparagus Gijnlim
Asparagus Gijnlim – Early, high yielding, medium size spears. Quality favorite for commercial growers.

Asparagus grow in trenches in fields and the border so we need to replicate this in the grow bag. Make sure the bag has drainage holes, if not make some.

 

Step 1 – Create a hole 6-8 inches deep in the middle of the bag with a small mound of compost at the bottom. Well-rotted manure or general fertilizer can be used in the compost.

 

Asparagus Herkolim
Asparagus Herkolim – Mid season variety. Large uniform spears . Premium quality and flavor

Step 2 – Spread the roots over the mound you have created at the bottom and cover the crown with 2 inches of soil, try and use fine soil for this or sieve/riddle before you cover the crown.

 

Step 3 – Fill up with compost as the shoots grow, gradually filling up the hole whilst still leaving a small part of the shoot exposed. When the shoots reach the main level the hole can be filled completely.

 

Step 4 – Water newly planted crowns thoroughly and keep damp during dry weather.

 

Step 5 – Any stems produced within the first 12 months should be left to produce bushy stems, the foliage will look like ferns.

Asparagus Pacific Purple
Asparagus Pacific Purple – Purple variety with sweet, string-less spears in May-Early June

 

Step 6 – Cut down the stems in autumn to 5cm above soil level.

 

Step 7 – The following year the stems can be harvested. When they are 12cm/5 inches long cut the stems 7cm/3 inches below the soil. Do not let the spears grow too tall.

 

Step 8 – By mid-June stop harvesting, let any remaining spears fully develop to fortify next year’s crop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing seed Potatoes in Patio growing Sacks

Potatoes in Growing Bag

 

We sell certified seed potatoes which are
supplied as grade
33-55cm seeds. 30 seeds weigh
approximately 2-2.5kg (salads 1.5-2kg).

Step 1 –

Fill one third of your Patio Potato Sack (15-20cm) with the damp compost
and place the seed potatoes on top of the compost. Then cover the seed potatoes
with a further 10cm of compost up to half of the sack.

 

Step 2

As plants start to grow and green foliage appears add more compost
around them to slowly fill up the potato sacks to a few inches
from the top. We do this as the potatoes grow from the stem beneath the
soil level so we want to keep that stem covered.

Every time that you add more compost you can feed the bag
with a general potato fertilizer which is high in potash.

Make sure you keep the compost moist at all times, but not too moist
as the tubers/seed potatoes will rot if over watered at this stage.

 

Step 3 –

For a bumper pack, increase watering when the plants
flower (this is when the tubers begin to form). They will usually be ready
for harvesting once the flowers begin to open.

 

Step 4

About two weeks before the potatoes are ready to harvest
you should cut all the growth off at ground level to prepare
the potatoes for lifting, making the skins tougher and less
likely to break on lifting.

 

Woman harvesting salad potatoes 'Bambino' grown in patio planter bag
Woman harvesting salad potatoes ‘Bambino’ grown in patio planter bag

Welcome to J Parkers Blog ……. and other interesting things!


banner 2

Welcome to our Blog!

Here you’ll find updates on everything we are doing here at J Parker’s along with some great gardening tips and advice.

 

A little bit about us….

The Parkers Way back in 1933 Martin Duiker-Parker came from Holland and started a mail order bulb business. He was following the footstep of three generations of his family, all bulb growers and exporters and his son, Chris, and grandsons Paul and Daniel are carrying on this tradition to this very day!

 

We now have three Garden centers in Manchester and Cheshire and a thriving wholesale department along with our mail order side which now takes order over the web as well as by phone or post.

Have you seen ourJeff How to Videos?

We have a whole series of How Too… Video Guides staring the marvellous Jeff Turner!
Jeff is a plant expert who’s years of experience and boundless enthusiasm are a real treat
for all you gardeners out there be you novice or expert!

How to Plant…..

We are building a comprehensive guide to complement our Videos and Cultural Instructions and How Supplied information. We aim to cover many of the plants we have on offer here at Parker’s so you can expect to see this category growing as we add more products as well as as ideas and advice on garden projects

hanging basket how too flat

Did we miss anything?

If you have any questions or things you would like to see on our website get in touch and we’ll do our best to include your ideas! Please contact us via Facebook or Twitter.