High anticipation in the vegetable garden

A good crop of tomatoes.A good crop of tomatoes.
A good crop of tomatoes.
Anticipation is high at this time of year as vegetable plants spring into growth and flowers appear on edible fruit-bearers.

We were looking confidently at the rows of potatoes last week after raking soil up to cover the tender foliage just in case there’s a late frost.

Each of the three early varieties; Foremost, Casablanca and Lady Christl, seem on course to deliver the first delicious taste in June.

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Six large pots containing Red Duke of York growing nearby are considered a bonus because they arose from self-sets.

No matter how carefully the crop is lifted, there’s always a potato or two missed, and after natural cold storage underground they’re generally first to show, so why waste them?

This tasty red cultivar was not on our buying list this year, but it’s a thoroughly acceptable variety so careful lifting and transfer, two to a pot, has added choice to the menu.

Taste is all and such a personal thing whatever fruit or vegetable you’re growing, and potatoes are the epitome of this.

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When the Jersey Royals first appear on local supermarket shelves it’s a pleasant change from the dreary winter routine, but not quite the breakthrough anticipated.

That comes in spades when a fork is plunged into soil to dig a home-grown haulm of spuds in late June. You don’t have to peel them, they shed their skins at the slightest touch. Even then, taste varies between cultivars. This is why we’re constantly trying new varieties in search of the best cropper, with some disease resistance and the perfect taste.

The medium a potato crop is grown in also influences the taste.

Select a favourite variety and try cultivating it in two different growing mediums; an organic-rich, soil-based and a peat-based compost. Soil-based works best for me.

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The tomatoes were transferred to their final pots last week and placed in growing positions along a greenhouse border.

The soil on which they stand has a decent organic content that was recently supplemented with a dressing of fish, blood and bone.

It will take a while for roots in the pots to penetrate below, but once they do, a second system that forages for food and water is formed.

This enables us to offer the weekly feed to roots in pots, and daily water supply to the border substrate.

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Should disease appear, say root rot, the plant has a better chance of survival. It has worked thus far for me.

Full light is essential at this stage to promote sturdy growth, but as the season progresses some form of greenhouse shading might be necessary and the plants will tell you when.

Short of speaking, they communicate through their leaves.

When drooping, water is required fast to avoid collapse.

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