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Harvesting Potatoes, Planting Garlics & Onions

The Sarpo Mira have stood up really well to the blight, this year. I lost quite a few of the non-blight-resistant varieties but only a handful of the Mira tubers were dubious. They came up very muddy, the soil is wet and sticky due to the amount of rain recently.

Harvesting Sarpo Mira Potatoes

First barrow load of Sarpo Mira potatoes. A couple of volunteer plants’ harvest in the pots.

Once they were up they were given a quick wash and moved into the polytunnel. Most went onto the onion rack. I want them to dry off before storing and there was no chance of that outside. Even as the last few were moved, there was a short but really heavy downpour.


Because of the weather, dried the potatoes using the onion rack in the polytunnel.

I’d estimate there’s a bit over 50 Kg there, which seems an awful lot, especially when added to those already in store. By coincidence I was reading a government recipe pamphlet from 1943 which suggested a man should be eating 1 lb. of potatoes a day and a woman 12 oz. That works out to 290 Kg. a year for a couple!

Thinking about it, it makes sense because people weren’t eating pasta or rice as staples. A lot of bread was eaten in the war, it was one of the few foods that wasn’t rationed. Pasta, however, was rarely found in the kitchen. The only pasta recipe from the period I’ve found was for macaroni cheese. With precious little cheese! Rice was something for milk-puddings.

In the Polytunnel

The sweet peppers were finished and so they came up, clearing a space along a side border. Some nettles and couch grass were infiltrating from outside so these were cleared although I don’t expect the problem will ever stop.

Revitalising the Soil

Prior to planting, the soil needs some revitalising. I used my Wolf Garten 3 pronged cultivator with a short handle to fluff up the topsoil. Next I added a couple of handfuls of pelleted chicken manure as a base fertiliser along with a good handful of fish, blood and bone per square yard.

I’d added a few things to the blood, fish & bone, trying to match the nutrients to the crops which all have similar requirements. Sulphate of potash, garlic is especially fond of potash. Epsom salts to provide magnesium, I’ve a feeling the soil here is short of magnesium and it will correct any problems due to the high potash level in the base fertiliser – much the same as you correct the problem in a tomato bed. Finally some flowers of sulphur. Sulphur is one of those vital but often neglected trace elements that a lot of soils are short of. Plus, I was reading how a little sulphur added to an onion bed will sharpen the flavour.

Next it was well mixed in with the cultivator and levelled with the 30 cm rake. Finally I mixed some commercial multi-purpose compost with soilfixer SF60 Biochar Compost soil improver – 10% by volume. This is just spread over the surface.

This may seem an awful lot of bother, but it takes only a few moments to amend the fertiliser, targeting it to the crop. The growing space in the polytunnel is very much at a premium, so it really does make sense to make the most from it.

Planting Out Garlic, Elephant Garlic and Onion Sets

Solent Wight Garlic, Elephant Garlic and Senshyu Onion Set

Planting the bed out followed. Firstly some garlic, Solent Wight, which has always done well for me. Then some elephant garlic. This is actually more related to leeks than garlic, despite looking much the same and tasting like a very mild garlic. The big difference is size – just look at the clove in the photo. The last crop for this bed is Senshyu, a Japanese autumn planted onion.

I’ll plant some outside as well but hopefully these undercover will be earlier and perform better in the polytunnel.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
4 comments on “Harvesting Potatoes, Planting Garlics & Onions
  1. Rowland Wells says:

    Interesting to read your comments about sulphate of potash because when we last had our allotment soil test from a commercial lab the only thing that was lacking was sulphur.

    I also note that you suggest your senshyu onions will do better in your poly tunnel I’ve been sowing element and senshyu seeds in a raised bed that are growing quite well. My intention is to cover the raised bed frame with a poly sheet to overwinter then plant out the onion plants in bed come spring.

    Also chicken pellets something to also try next season looking at 6x chicken pellets

    I’ve also set about 100 autumn sets both red and white but can’t remember the variety in pots in the greenhouse. Moving them to the poly tunnel when they get established to overwinter and again plant out in spring

    I must say your potato crop looks well with quite a quantity of good size potatoes mira seems something to try next season. Bred in Hungary as a main crop potato?

    as ever your comments and advise are well worth reading John

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi Rowland – the main man behind Sarpo is Dr David Shaw who is based at Bangor, just a few miles up the road from us. Lovely chap, very, very clever. The Mira are the most blight resistant variety I’ve come across – often ‘last man standing’
      Bit of a thug – they swamp out any weeds. Only thing is to keep watered as they grow very fast and can get hollow heart.
      Can I ask who did your soil test and how much it cost?

  2. Peter Jefferies says:

    I live in France and for the past five years have planted Mona Lisa
    potatoes. The seed is very different to that I have known back in the UK( I always selected egg sized seed ), here the seed potatoes range from an 1inch long to 11/2 inch max. To my amazement they still produce a good crop, from sixty seed potatoes approx 30 kgs.

    • John Harrison says:

      A reader sent me some French seed potatoes which were quite small but still did well. The large Arran Pilot seed from Wilko didn’t do that well. Next year I’ll be buying some select your own seed potatoes, so I may go for the smaller ones.

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