6.jpg
Plant Pots Direct Gardening Blog

Working with Lawns Park Primary School, Farnley, Leeds

Welcome to our blog!

Jamie Paul, the owner of Plant Pots Direct, is a very keen gardener, has two allotments of his own and works at Lawns Park Primary School two afternoons per week passing on his knowledge and experience to the next generation of gardeners. Our knowledge is no means the finished article, we read books, search the Internet, ask other gardeners all searching for the answer to grow the best potatoes or cabbages, but best of all we love to try!

This year we have decided to tell you the story of our experiments, methods, successes and failures (yes, we all get them). To help us we have enlisted the help of the pupils of the School to explain a few things, giving a view through their eyes, with drawings, photographs, lists and examples.

So sit back and enjoy or ride!

Potato potty

Sowing Rocket Early PototoesEarly Potatoes planted in growing bags

Late winter is the best time to get the early (or first early) potatoes in the soil and growing. This year I've decided to work with the younger children at the school for my potato growing activities.

The truth is that, from my experience, the potatoes need the least looking after and will probably suit the Children from year 1 (5-6 year olds) the best, and they will probably reap the best rewards for all their efforts.

Unfortunately my planning for the sowing of the Potatoes has been some what distracted, and chitting the Potatoes hasn't really happened, basically i've forgotten all about it and i had to rush to Wilkinson's this morning to buy my supply for this year, i promise to be more organised with the main crop. In an ideal world the Potatoes 'should' be chitted for about 2 weeks in the garden shed, when the shoots are starting to appear the Potatoes are ready to be planted.

 

This year i've gone with a new (for me) variety of Potato, Rocket, the name it's self sold them too me, but reading it to the variety they tick quit a few boxes for where i want to plant the early Potatoes this year.

 

Rocket is a good Potato for container or bag growing and has good disease resistance to blackleg, common scab, and spraing. They are also described as a good 'New Potato" and excellent for boiling.

This year instead of planting the Potatoes directly into the grown, we are planting our early crop in Potato growing bags. Last year we did the same and had a very good healthy crop, so if it worked last year why change!

 

Method - Planting early Potatoes in Potato growing bags

1. Chitting the Potatoes - As mentioned this is something we didn't actually do with this years early crop. The main ideas is to allow your Potato to start growing before you place them in the ground or Potato sack / bag. The easiest way to do this is by placing the Potatoes in an old egg box and leave them in the garden shed for a couple of weeks, when the Potatoes are showing signs of growth they are ready to be planted.

2. Filling our bags with soil - Our area to plant the early Potatoes is in Potato bags / sacks. The first job is simple we need to start filling the bags with whatever we are growing the Potatoes in. I have heard of many methods; compost, soil, horse manure, grass clippings, paper.... I have decided to try something a little bit different, old garden mulch. The paths in the allotment have been covered with garden mulch for the past 3 years, due to the allotment been built on a boggy area of the school field, time has taken its toll and the mulch has really started to break down and now looks more like muddy compost rather then fresh mulch. So to kill two birds with one stone it make perfect sense to try to recycle the 'mulch compost'. I've asked the Year 1 Children to work in pairs to fill the potato sacks to about half way, the children see the task as a competition to see which pair can get their bags first ready for the next stage first, before long the Children have dropped their spades and it's all hands to the pump. After 15 long had minutes of filling the Children have all managed to get the bags full enough ready for the Potatoes to be planted in the bags / sacks.

3. Planting the Potatoes - The Potato bag volume is approximately 35 Litres, so I would recommend growing more than 1 Potato in each bag, this year i'm pushing my luck and trying 3. With the Potato bag / sack now filled to about half way I has the Children to place the 3 Potatoes in where they think the the Potatoes will grow best, after a couple of minutes of rushing around and a few heated discussions the Children are ready to discover who has got the best layout for growing the prize crop of new Potatoes. One pair had placed the Potatoes as closed to the middle as possible and all touching each other, One pair had the Potatoes as close to the edge of the bag as they could be, but luckily two grows had worked out that each Potato needed space for the plants to mature. The best method is to place the Potatoes in a triangle with the center of the triangle to be the centre of the bag.

Sowing Rocket Early Pototoes
4. Cover the Potatoes - Now the Potatoes have been placed in their new home it's time to cover them up and let nature take its cause. We worked together and filled each Potato bag to approximately 2/3 full and moved them into their place in the allotment for the growing to start.

Lawns Park Primary School's Early Potatoes Sown in Pototo Bags
5. Review - In 2 sessions we managed to plant up 8 bags each containing 3 Potatoes, so with 24 Rocket potatoes planted I asked the group how many Potatoes should we expect to be when we harvested to crop. Supprisingly most of the Children expected up to get 24 Potoates in rturn for the 24 we have just planted, but they would be larger Potatoes, one Girl had worked out that each Potato would produce more Potatoes and in her head she was working on the assumption that we should get 4 Potatoes back from each Potato planted, so she wasn't far wrong. I would expect a return of around 120-150 potatoes in the final harvest, some will be large some will be small, but they can then be used for various things (Boiled, chipped, roasted....)

 

Share to Linkedin Share to Myspace Share to Delicious Share to Google