Desirable Desiree

Less than a day after some startling thunder and lightning, today presented a good opportunity to lift this year’s potatoes. Back in the early Spring I set up four bags, two of them containing half a dozen Charlottes and the other two containing Desiree maincrops.

Messy, dying off top growth from the potato bags

The top growth of the Charlottes was long since dying off, while the Desiree’s flowers were passing their best and seed pods appearing, so both were ready to tip out for that fascinating moment when you see whether there’s a good crop or not.

Big, healthy Desiree maincrop potatoes still attached to the roots

Breaking the soil up on a tarpaulin revealed a good haul of both types, enough for me to be satisfied. But when planting the seed potatoes earlier in the year I had more than the four bags could accommodate so stuffed the remainder into the ground around the bags. So I started digging in that raised bed and immediately found lots more Desiree, bigger than those from the bags. There were a few more Charlottes too, but the Desirees were very impressive and more or less doubled the size of the crop.

Blonde Charlottes and pink Desirees. The ones from the bed are bigger than those from the grow bags.

The lesson for next year is to plant directly into the bed rather than bags. It could be the new thing I learned about spuds doing better in poorer soil, or it could be better access to moisture in the ground than in sometimes parched bags. In any case, while lifting this year’s I could tell that the knotty green manure roots which have put me off this bed for several years have rotted down and are no longer a real problem. For now I’ve tipped the used bag compost onto the bed, flattened it all off and pegged weed membrane over it. The spuds are inside drying off and I’ll store them in cardboard boxes tomorrow.

A few days back it was time to harvest the broad beans too. About thirty Sutton variety dwarf plants were ready and I ended up with 6kg still in their pods. After breaking them out and blanching them there were twelve bags of 200g each, so 2.4kg or so. That was pretty much acceptable, especially as they’re absolutely delicious.

Big crate of six kilos of broad beans, with the stumps of their plants still in the ground.
Sutton broad beans: twelve bags for the freezer.

I’ve since filled the vacated bed with seeds of radishes, rocket, spicy mustard leaves and garlic chives, most of which have sprouted just a few days later.

It was also time to start picking the lovely dwarf French beans. These are the Castandel variety, grown from seed. They’re a beautiful deep green, even after blanching.

Beautiful dwarf french beans

Nearby the first tiny runner beans have appeared and I hope to pick some a couple of weeks from now. And the first red tomatoes are finding their way into the kitchen, a couple at a time, which will be part of the update next time. Thanks for reading 🙂

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