Author Topic: A point to ponder on?  (Read 11322 times)

Hugh_Jones

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A point to ponder on?
« on: February 18, 2004, 02:07:48 »
Yesterday, as I was dragging the long pronged cultivator through last year`s maincrop potato row I unearthed (as usual) several small potatoes that had somehow escaped during lifting.  They all had strong shoots, several inches in length, as well as plenty of roots, and the question occurred to me – just when does a potato tuber suddenly feel the urge to sprout and grow?  These had clearly been growing for several weeks and were well on the way to becoming strong plants.  In comparison, the new seed which I painstakingly set out in egg boxes on the spare bedroom window ledge a month or so ago, and have to spray occasionally to keep them plump, merely have short green shoots ½ inch or so in length, and even when planted in early March will still take two or three weeks to reach the stage of development which the `volunteers` have already reached now.

Obviously, when artificial climate control was not generally available – or at least not to the farmer or the ordinary gardener, the planting date had to allow for the danger of frost damage to the stems and foliage, and the rules were framed accordingly, but in these days of milder winters and fleece or cloche protection do the time-honoured recommendations as to planting dates still hold good?

We know, of course, that early and second early potatoes form their tubers as soon as the plants have reached a certain stage in their growth, and clearly if they are well rooted in mid February they will reach that stage much earlier than if they are not planted – however well chitted – until March.   We also know that the maincrop potatoes will not start to form tubers until after midsummer`s day, and the size of crop will depend on the amount of growth made before that date, so again clearly the crop will be bigger if the plants are well rooted in February than if they are not planted until March.

In fact, should we not consider the possibility of planting – under cloche or double fleece protection, in February, or even January?  It would be interesting to hear your views, but in the meantime I think I`m going to risk planting a few earlies under fleece tomorrow.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

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A point to ponder on?
« on: February 18, 2004, 02:07:48 »

tim

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2004, 09:15:03 »
I'm sure you've got a point there. We. too, have to put some out tomorrow, because they're developing aerial roots. I just find fleece a bit of a bore at times.

Spraying the seed? You learn every day! But mine are 2 floors up, and that takes a lot of persuasion! = Tim
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

rdak

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2004, 10:00:43 »
Is spraying to keep them hydrated? I had noticed my 1st earlies had started to wrinkle up a bit whilst chitting.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2004, 15:10:27 »
I tto feel that in many areas the old 'rules' about planting certain crops are far too cautious, and that in mild districts planting may be done at least a month earlier than the usual reccomendations.

My garden is very mild even for the area (southwest england) and I am currently experimenting with various things to see jst how mild it truly is.  On this note i am planning on starting many crops this year as soon as possible (within reason) rather than wait for the 'set time'.  I have recent ly purchased my seed potatoes and when I feel they are adequately chitted they will be planted out, albeit with some protection just in case.  

I have recent lt seen in a reputable gardening magazine, advice suggesting tomatoes for indoor growing may be started around now.  This i also consider worth trying. I usualy start all tomatoes off towards the end of march/ early april.  This year i think I will try begining of march instead. I have never had problems getting tomatoes to germinate, so this is not something that conerns me greatly about sowing so early.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

The gardener

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2004, 15:52:03 »
I think a lot has to do with 'temperature'

I think generally when we talk of 'temperature' we are thinking in human terms.

When you hear the scientists talking of 'global warming' they are only talking on the effect of a one or two degree difference, and what it is going to do.

So in reality the ground temperature where these tubers are sprouting, may be relatively warm in plant terms, particulary if they are  in ground that was manured the previous year, and this is still decomposing thus generating heat

I use a soil thermometer a lot  during the winter months and quite often I register temperatures that are 4-5 degrees warmer in the pot, than the surrounding air.

One has only to break up a dried up 'rootball' to see that it consists of loads of fibres not unlike a 'fibre filled' duvet, so is it any wonder that it is a few degrees warmer in there.

Hope I haven't bored you too much with my theory.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »


The Gardener

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2004, 16:37:15 »
Not at all. I think you have said in the past that soil can act as a good insulator against cold.

Down here we rarely get a deep penetrating frost. At worst a few centimetres get frozen in winter. This winter even less. Digging down a few inches in winter has shown the soil to be unaffected by cold conditions above. I have in fact had the last of my late crop of potatoes in the ground all winter (only recently lifted) which came to no harm at all because of the depth they were in the soil. I only lifted them because i was afraid of them sprouting in situ (as Hugh's did).
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

Mrs Ava

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2004, 16:50:32 »
Very interesting Gardener.  I am always far to keen to get things growing and to be honest, the only thing I always sow to early to germinate is carrots.  I get carried away, get them in too early with no protection, and I guess they just rot away in the cold wet ground.  I guess bigger things which would take longer to rot or are to big to be washed away would stand more of a chance.  Richard, my toms are up and at 'em already.  I always sow these early, and a certain rufty tufty northern chap I know has his greenhouse full of seedlings already!  ;)
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

The gardener

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2004, 17:39:25 »
You lucky lot, but then again we gardeners have to live with what nature throws at us don't we......masochists the lot of us, don't you think? ;D

I have had to consider such things as 'temperatures'a lot, considering I garden at over 900 ft above sea level  on the eastern side of the Pennines and I am exposed to the easterly Siberian winds, that can blow in from time to time.

There is a saying up here that some of you in the south might not have heard, and that is 'you are a coat warmer than us', and it shows when I read of you doing this and that and I am still only dreaming of it, but then again thats gardening.

One for aka Dan; How about a geographical location under our forum name, might help when we all talk of this and that, particularly if 'geographical location' has an affect on our gardening methods.

Sorry if this is the wrong place to mention this , but it just came to mind when relating the top section of this posting.

I don't know if anyone has looked into the 'Zones' area of my website where I have tried to tackle 'the location' thing.

If you haven't your points of view would be most welcome (warts and all)
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »


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carloso

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2004, 17:54:02 »
ladys and gents

i get the jist of the planting times etc   but please explain the word "chitting"

no answers on a post card and keep it clean lol

carl  
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »
another member of i forgot my password

The gardener

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2004, 18:03:44 »
For Carl;

Lay your seed potatoes out like this or in a  similar fashion to sprout/ or chit

« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »


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Hugh_Jones

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2004, 20:15:55 »
Gardener, an excellent picture,  but I do hope that it wasn`t taken very recently. As to the bed in question, no, it isn`t in a warm spot, and no, it was not manured last year to keep it warm. However, the `volunteers` were buried quite deeply under the untidy mounds I always leave when I`m harvesting potatoes, and it may well have been a degree or so warmer that deep.

Ross, yes the spraying is to prevent what you yourself have noticed. The production of strong sprouts can greatly reduce the moisture content of the tubers, particularly if they are in a window exposed to strong sunshine.  An occasional fine mist spray helps to keep the tubers firm and plump.  I`m quite sure that Tim is fully aware of this, but he just likes to give me the opportunity to expound.

« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:02 by -1 »

tim

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2004, 22:16:09 »
- wasn't !! - never thought of it. = Tim

PS - And just to debunk the owt - I have never 'stood them up'. 'Life's too short to stuff a mushroom'. Just chuck 'em in and they'll do their thing. With one caveat - if you use trays like these, watch out for the shoots pushing out through the holes, and getting stuck!  Left - Red Duke of York. Right - Anya, starting aerial roots.

« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:02 by -1 »

Hugh_Jones

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2004, 23:35:34 »
Now that`s more like it!
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Ragged Robin

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2004, 23:46:40 »

  Tim  I use similar trays for my spuds, to avoid the entrapment problem, I normally put a layer of newspaper on the bottom!
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »
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Tenuse

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2004, 23:55:52 »
Hee hee I only have a total of 22 tubers chitting they would be lost in a big tray like that!

Ten x
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Hugh_Jones

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2004, 00:12:49 »
Tenuse, with the sort of numbers you mention the best way is to save up all your egg boxes like I do. They`re just the right size to fit on a window ledge, and at 6 spuds to the box I can chit 100 or more spuds on one window ledge - and they don`t fall over
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

Tenuse

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2004, 00:14:58 »
Yes this is what I have done, and if you leave the flappy part on the egg box you can use it to write the variety on!

Maybe next year I will "graduate" to 100s of spuds but I only have 3 windowsills in the house...!

Ten x
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »
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Mrs Ava

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2004, 02:04:41 »
ooo ooo me too, I wanna show of my chitting tatties.

 
I don't know if you can see, but my Pentlands are all different sizes, and covered in very small, but lots of chits, where as the spuds next to them, Sharpes Express, are very uniform and only have 1 big chit.


aaaahhhhh, look at my babies!   ;D
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

Hugh_Jones

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2004, 14:52:44 »
That`s mainly because of the varieties, EJ.  Sharpes Express usually produces beautifully shaped potatoes of uniform size. Other varieties which do that include, Nadine, Celine, Sante etc.  On the other hand Desiree frequently produces the lumpiest, craggiest, most uneven potatoes imaginable, but then we don`t grow them for their looks.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »

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Re: A point to ponder on?
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2004, 16:28:59 »
Oh I wish i could see Tims Photo of his spuds. Just to know what the heck he is on about :-/.

I grow only a small quantity myself (30 seed tubers in all) so use cell trays oy ordinary seed trays to chit mine on.

Id certainly agree about the desiree tubers. Took me twice as long in the garden centre to pick out the best ones than it did the foremost I got at the same time.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 by 1077926400 »