Allotment Stuff > The Basics

A point to ponder on?

(1/7) > >>

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.

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

Is spraying to keep them hydrated? I had noticed my 1st earlies had started to wrinkle up a bit whilst chitting.

Garden Manager:
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.

The gardener:
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.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version