Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Here we go Again!

Firstly, welcome to the very first London Vegetable Garden blog post from Richmond! It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted, due to a hectic move and sporadic internet access; however I now have a few spare moments in which to update you all with gardening goings-on.

This Sunday, my girlfriend and I went up to the new allotment and spent a few hours acclimatising to our new environment. The fantastic weather made this trip splendid in itself, however the amazing ham sandwiches packed by @lucaluxes topped it off, as well as coming in handy after an hour or so of digging!

We have a decent patch of land, which seasoned vegetable gardeners may find rather limited, although after the confines of a balcony, it's a veritable orchard!
Anyway, we set about digging the soil using spades and forks, breaking up huge clods of earth and preparing the soil for planting. It's no easy work and I can fully appreciate why gardeners are so fit – we were already getting blisters when I stopped to take this snap:

Anyway, this weekend, we focused on planting our potatoes, of which I had earlier talked about chitting. Well, after the move, it transpired that the potatoes had 'chitted' on their own accord, as you can see from this photo:

Whilst I purchased potato growing bags, which I plan to employ for my main crop, I decided to plant my 'first earlies' in the freshly dug earth. Now, having only honed my limited gardening skills on a balcony, it goes without saying that I've never attempted to grow potatoes before. One of the benefits of being on an allotment is that you have instant access to aplenty of like-minded, knowledgeable and extremely friendly gardeners, all of whom were eager to offer advice to me.

I was advised to raise 'ridges', with a small channel in between, as you can see in the photo below:

The seed potatoes are then planted in this channel, approximately 9” apart, and covered with around 5” of soil.

As the plants grow, the purpose of the ridges becomes apparent, as (strangely enough) one has to cover the plants over with soil! Although this seems to contravene common logic (it's growing – it wants to come up!), potato plants produce a higher yield if covered in more soil – it encourages more growth and helps the forming potatoes to grow more effectively.

So there we have it – the first vegetables of my first ever allotment are in! This event was made even more exciting by the fact that I am attempting to grow potatoes, which is completely new to me. They are due to crop around June or July, so we'll wait and see what happens. As soon as shoots appear, we'll get it on the London Vegetable Garden blog!


  1. Looks great, Callum!
    Covering those potatoes as they grow also helps to keep them from greening and will prevent possible belly aches later on from solanine toxicity.
    Thanks for posting the photos-it's fun to see what people are up to with their gardens.
    Enjoy your new plot! :D

  2. Just found your blog. Very interesting. Started my balcony garden today.

  3. Sounds like you were advised well, enjoy the allotment experience.

  4. Seedlings look good and like the planting technique. Did you add compost/manure? Taters like it.
    It is well worth heaping soil up around the stems of the potato plants after a month or so. Mulch with straw or even erect a mini poly tunnel if there is still a risk of frost at night.

  5. Thanks for all of your comments! The frosts have passed, although it can be rather nippy in the mornings still! The soil has been worked well for me prior to my arrival at the allotment, so I have planted them directly in. When the potato plants start shooting and it's time to cover them up again, I plan to mix in some compost to the soil. Does anyone have any advice on which type of compost to use? Soil-based?



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