Tips for Potatoes in Sacks


I am growing my early potatoes in various containers but these canvas sacks look to me to be a great idea. You can buy specially made potato sacks from seed merchants and garden centres but any large bag can be adapted with enough drainage holes.

Tips and Benefits

  • There is virtually no chance of eel worm or soil borne infection if you use clean sacks and fresh or sterilized compost.
  • The sacks can be placed where there is spare space increasing your cropping area, particularly useful if ground is scarce.
  • These polypropylene sacks drain to avoid soggy conditions yet have space at the top to ‘earth-up’ by adding extra soil.
  • All the fertilizer will be focused on the plants.
  • Crops are clean and tasty with one plant producing at least enough for a meal for four.
  • You can start extra early crops in the greenhouse and move them outside later.

Tips from Experience

  • I have used sacks for several years now. The plants need plenty of water as they grow without becoming waterlogged.
  • I put 3 spuds in one 2 foot diameter sack.
  • Top up with extra soil as the plants surface until the bag is full.
  • I mixed in some rotted horse manure this year and the crop benefited and the soil residue was great for the garden.

Kiwi Fruit the Chinese Gooseberry


Kiwi fruit known as the Chinese goodeberry grow on the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa and its hybrids. The vines should be grown on sturdy support structures as it crops more than the rather weak vines can support.This plant has a cold greenhouse for protection but they can be grown outdoors in a sheltered spot.

Growing Tips

  • Plants are prone to frost damage.
  • Fruit is borne on one-year-old and older canes, but production declines as each cane ages. Canes should be pruned off and replaced after their third year.
  • Kiwifruit vines require vigorous pruning similar to that of grapevines.
  • Only female plants bear fruit, and then only when pollinated by a male plant.
  • The cultivar ‘Issai’, a hybrid  Actinidia arguta x polygama from Japan can self-pollinate; unfortunately it lacks vigour, is less hardy than most Kiwi fruit and is not a large producer. ‘Jenny’ is partly self-fertile and so is worth trying where space is limited.
  • ‘Hayward’ is the most widely grown, least vigorous and latest-flowering female cultivar with oval fruits of a good flavour.
  • Of the male varieties ‘Tomuri’ is the latest to flower so is the best to partner ‘Hayward’.

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What Vegetables are Brassicas

For gardening purposes Brassicas are a group of vegetables in the mustard family that includes Cabbages, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Sprouts and Kale.  Spinach, Rapeseed, Swede and Turnip are also from different brassica species but are not discussed in length in this post.

Know about Brassicas

  • The flowers, leaves and stems are usually edible though each vegetable is famous for its own features like this heart of the cabbage.
  • Brassicas contain antioxidents, minerals and vitimins and are a staple of a healthy diet.
  • The sulphur content of the brassicas give it the aroma when cooking. Red purple and green heads are now produced amongst cabbages and cauliflowers and if they lose colour when cooking add a bit of vinegar to the water.
  • Brassicas prefer some shade in firm, fertile, limed soil. Tread seedlings in and support tall brussel sprouts.
  • Rotate the crop moving to a different plot every year as the roots can suffer from a fungus causing club root.
  • Plants need space to develop – a sprout will need 2 feet between plants.

Comic Potatoes

Grow comical potatoes

I want to be amongst the First Earlies with one or two comments about spuds you like. When I talk about comical potatoes I am not thinking of those funny shapes you can grow in a stony garden. Nor am I thinking about the ones that look like someone’s anatomy and cause amusement at the village garden show to those who have aged but not matured.

I am thinking about the eyes in the potatoes that you want to sprout for half an inch before you plant them – if you look closely you will realise they are called Speck Tators for a good reason.

Some are always looking to cause problems with scab or burrowing keeled slugs and really get under your skin or their own skin They are called Aggie Tators. Varieties like Wilja and Pentland Dell Charlotte and Golden Wonder are a bit more resilient to slug damage.

If it takes you a long time to get around to planting your Earlies and are even late for main crop planting leaving it well after March We call them Hezzie Tators. Late main crop varieties include Golden Wonder, Valor, Sarpo Mira and Pink Fir Apple.

Some folks spent a lot of time sitting and peering into their garden, no double digging or earthing up for them. These gardeners are your Medi Tators.

There are the new varieties like Gary Lineker and Sue Barker but they are only Common Taters.

On a more serious note potatoes contain a lot of nutrition in the form of Vitimins C, B1, B6  and Potassium, Iron, Magnesium plus fibre and other healthy traces so it pays to grow a selection of spuds.


Using A Potato Clamp for Storage

Potato Store

Storing through winter

When storing potatoes you need to exclude light and moisture but retaining an even temperature. Do not wash spuds before storing. Do not allow them to be stored too cold or the starch will turn to sugar and start to go black. A fridge is too cold.

A clamp is a simple pile to store Potatoes or Turnips outdoors. Lay a 6 inch bed of straw on the ground and place potatoes in a pile after removing any loose soil. Then place straw on top and around the root crop. On top of the straw pile 6 inches of soil to keep it in place and pat it smooth so it can shed rain. Dig a drainage trench around the pile. Leave ventilation holes in the top by pulling some straw through.

If rodents are a problem place chicken wire over the straw and bend at the base to form a barrier against burrowing. When opening the clamp to get some potatoes out check for rotting, if it is bad remake the clamp with more straw in a drier area. The graphic is more complex than needed at home or in the allottment a round pile will do.


Growing Carrots No Carrot Flies


I hope my carrots will taste better than the pottery gnome variety. Gonsenheimer have not been grown in my garden before but as they are promoted as crack resistant I thought I would give them a go. The blurb says ‘a bunching variety producing heavy crops of smooth skinned, good flavoures bright orange roots.’  Just about what you need from a packet of Carrot seed. Sown now they can be harvested from end July until December.

Autumn King Improved Carrots are my maincrop (and main picture) variety ready in August- October from May sowing. I will sow the seed thinly half inch deep and only thin if they are really close together. The other varieties picture are Amsterdam Forcing and Nantes but what ever you grow i hope you have juicy tender Carrots to show for your efforts.

Amsterdam ForcingAutumn KingNantes

Tips to Avoid Carrot Fly

  • Sow in February or early March or waiting until Mid June will help as the Carrot fly is not laying its eggs at that time and it is the egg larvae that do the damage.
  • Covering new sowings with horticultural fleece is the best prevention.
  • Mulching with grass clippings can create a barrier for flies and also reduces green tops on the carrots but beware of slugs and snails under the mulch.
  • Carrot fly are attracted by the smell of carrots which is strongest when leaves are bruised or damaged. Thin out and pick carrots late in the day when there is little wind
  • Grow Carrots in 2 foot high raised beds as most Flies are ground hugging.

Odd Carrot Facts

  • The World Carrot Museum has a variety of Carrot name for every letter of the alphabet
  • Most carrots are orange but they can also be white, yellow, red, and purple.
  • One carrot provides enough vitamin A for one day – the deeper the orange the more beta carotene and healthy impact they produce.
  • About half of the worlds carrots are Chinese

Thyme and Time Again

Thyme has over 350 varieties and can make an interesting collection. Thymus is claimed to have volatile oils that have anti-ageing properties and good anti-oxidants to aid health. It retains its flavour after drying and can be stored successfully.

Time for some Growing Tips on Thyme

  • Place container or grow in a sunny position to get stronger flavoured leaves.
  • Use free draining soil or plant through a good layer of gravel
  • Thyme looks good in a pot but avoid using a rich compost or you will get tasteless leaves and no flowers
  • Trim the plant after Thyme has flowered to stop it becoming woody.
  • Propagate from cuttings before flowering in spring or divide in spring.
  • T. vulgaris, T. frgrantissimus and T. Serpyllium can be grown from fine seed which should be sown with sand on top of soil watered from the bottom.
  • Bees are attracted to the pink flowering Pink Ripple.
  • Cooking with Thyme and home grown Tomatoes is a special joy but add Thyme early so it has chance to release its flavours.

Herb Garden Design Using Thyme

  • Create a carpet on a path on banking to display the herbs.
  • For best ornamental effect mix upright varieties and creeping varieties and vary the leaf colour ‘Archers Gold’, ‘Coccineus major’ and ‘Doone Valley’ have a mix of magenta and purple flowers with varigation on leaf colour.
  • A wheel shape or Octagon effect can be created as a garden feature
  • ‘T. Vulgaris Silver Posie’ is reliable in winter weather


Growing Organic Vegetables Best Tips

organic veg

Homegrown  vegetables are definitely worth the time and effort and organics are even better. Growing vegetables will reward you with a fresh and tasty supply of your favourite vegetables. You can also have the reassurance of knowing how they were grown without the unnecessary spraying of countless chemicals.

These are some tips to get the best results from growing organic vegetables.


Organic Fertiliser

To get the best vegetables you need to feed the growing plants well. Fortunately, there is a range of suitable organic fertilisers such as pelleted chicken manure, well rotted manure and many others. These organic fertilisers also have the benefit of realising the food over a period of time and helping to improve the soil structure.

  • Remember, although vegetables benefit from good feeding, it is important that you don’t overfeed.
  • The other tip to remember is that to get the best fruits use tomato (potash) rather than nitrogen fertilisers at the appropriate time.

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Common Larch – Root and Branch Review

Larch Tree

Larch trees are common in forestry plantations and high ground in the UK. Larch are fast growing and loose there leaves in winter. The wood from Common Larch trees is still used for a range of purposes.

Key Features of the Common Larch

  • Latin name – Larix decidua other common names European Larch
  • Height – up to 120 feet
  • Type of tree – Deciduous Conifer
  • Leaves – flat soft needles growing in whorls on side shoots and stems
  • Flowers – male yellow, female pink catkins
  • Fruit – oval brown cones with straight scales and visible bracts
  • Bark – Grey, smooth when young fissuring with age
  • Family – Pinaceae

Origins and Distribution of the Common Larch

  • Indigenous to hilly regions of Europe.
  • Now widely planted in north America.

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Hawthorn – Root and Branch Review

Hawthorn blossum DSCF0995

The Hawthorn flowers in May hence one of its common names. Gnarled old trunks give testimony to the Hawthorn’s ability to survive in exposed windy conditions. The thorns help make the tree a good hedging subject.

Key Features of the Hawthorn

  • Latin name – Crataegus Monogyna other common names May, Quickthorn, Whitethorn or Thornapple
  • Height – 33 feet-
  • Type of tree – deciduous
  • Leaves – deeply lobed glossy green leaves
  • Flowers – Dense clusters of creamy white borne on shoots
  • Fruit – Oval red pome (Berry)half inch wide
  • Bark – Brown with shallow ridges
  • Family – Rosaceae,

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