PURE JEANIUS
Kitchen Garden|August 2021
Reuse your old compost, says Stephanie Hafferty, and you too can have potatoes for Christmas. And don’t forget, potatoes will grow in just about any container, including jeans!
Stephanie Hafferty

Sorry to mention the ‘C word’ in the summertime but delicious, freshly harvested home-grown potatoes at Christmastime are a real treat, and easy to grow using some compost, household items, and a few potatoes. They just need somewhere frost-free to grow, and a little planning. August is the perfect time to plant for winter new potatoes.

Many gardening companies offer seed potatoes for Christmas harvests at this time of year, usually first and second ‘earlies’. These have been kept in cold storage to prevent spring sprouting, and are available in garden centers and online. Popular varieties include ‘Maris Peer’, ‘Charlotte’, ‘Swift’ and ‘Nicola’.

Alternatively, use your own home-grown first and second early potatoes. I often find these sprouting in the veg basket – it is as if they are asking to be given the opportunity to grow! It is also fine to use any other variety that you have, or sprouting spuds from the shop. They may not be as prolific as specific varieties, but they are free and they will still taste great!

SAVE YOUR COMPOST

During the spring and summer, I save all used compost from sowing, potting on, etc. in an old metal dustbin, including the compost from my early in the spring planted potatoes, which were harvested in June and July. This is absolutely fine to use again, assuming that the potatoes were healthy. This spent compost gets a new lease of life, used in pots to grow my December potatoes, and it is free (when these potatoes are harvested I then spread it on the beds as a mulch, so one lot of compost is used in three ways). For extra fertility, I add homemade comfrey and nettle liquid feeds as the potatoes are growing. If you don’t have any saved compost, some good multi-purpose compost will be fine.

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