February IV: the 2018 season starts today, 15th February….

Today, 15th February, I sowed my first seeds for regular harvest. I sowed Kelsae onions on 19th January for exhibiting, using seeds I made in 2017, but the process of growing food to eat started today.

The home made Kelsae seeds germinated at about 40% efficiency between day 7 and day 14 in modules containing Klassmann-Deilmann  compost as shown below:

Twenty one seedlings were picked into 10cm pots containg Multi Purpose Compost (MPC) on day 21. By day 27, 16 of the 21 have their first true leaf.

These will continue growing indoors until 21st March, when further potting up may be necessary.

Today I sowed five first early Casablanca potato tubers in 10 litre pots containing MPC, a dribble of rock dust, some friendly bacteria and fungi, a scoop of Vitax Q4 organic and half a scoop of Nutrimate.

Prior chitting of tubers created several visible stems (see below):

The pots will now sit by an east facing window until plants emerge (usually around 28 days), when they will be moved outdoors:

In 2017, four pots each yielded around 2lb of small tubers from about 12 weeks after sowing, showing the method to be consistent and worth relying upon. This year, I am doing 5 pots to provide a weekly harvest from mid May to mid June, after which soil-grown early potatoes should start to be ready.

After succeeding in growing carrots in 17 litre bags through both summer and autumn in 2017, ths spring I am testing Amsterdam Forcing carrots in bags also.

I filled two bags  with MPC, bacteria, fungi and rock dust and watered copiously. I riddled my new leaf mould on top, dropped seeds in a spiral form spaced around 4cm apart in the leaf mould, then riddled more leaf mould on top to cover. A brief watering and the bags will live with the potato pots until seedlings emerge (hopefully 14-21 days) before assessing whether the weather is benign enough for them to live outside.

 

As the new season begins, I harvested the second bag of Berlicum carrots from a June 30th 2017 sowing and obtained a yield of 6.2lb, with almost no fly damage at all. This suggests that 1.5lb of carrots can be harvested each week from two 17 litre bags from January 1st to the end of February, providing a supply of roots through the depths of winter.

 

It is good to get underway again, with a few more February sowings still to come in the next 13 days.

February 2018 II: 5.7lb Berlicum carrots from a 30th June sowing

2017 was a year experimenting with growing carrots in 17 litre polypot bags.

Back in September I harvested Sweet Candle carrots sown for show, with 11 roots weighing 7.5lbs.

The second experiment concerned sowing carrots late (at a time later than normal garlic harvest). The date chosen was 30th June 2017.

Seeds were sown at a higher denisty than the Sweet Candle bags as it was unclear what sort of yield would emerge.

The results of harvesting the first bag on 7th February 2018 were excellent, as shown in the feature image.

32 roots were harvested:

4 large roots weighing a combined 2.2lb;

14 medium roots weighing a combined 2.5lb;

14 small roots weighing a combined 1.0lb.

A total yield of 5.7lb was achieved, suggesting further optimisation of sowing density and date is worthwhile.

Whilst there is minor damage to around eight roots from carrot fly, the quality is more than good enough for home use.

The conclusion to be drawn is that six months worth of autumn/winter carrots can be grown in six bags through two sowings in late March/early April and late June/early July.

This represents no more than 1 square metre of space required on a patio and the issues of slugs eating young seedlings can be largely eradicated.