Harvesting Spuds in Sacks

Carol is getting a dab hand at harvesting potatoes, she's already done the open ground spuds and after tackling them she was all up for ripping into the potato sacks in the herb garden. I literally had to hold her back as we had three rows of potatoes drying in the late summer sun and nowhere else to dry those in sacks until these were bagged up. I think she may have the potato growing bug because when I said after breakfast, 'It's a good day to harvest the potatoes in sacks' she was out the door still dressed in her everyday clothes and not her gardening gear. If I hadn't been there she would have chewed the bags open.

Potato harvest, woman gardener

Over the years I have gone off growing potatoes in sacks or bags. At first it was great to do with D, it was an easy way to get him growing and meant he had control of what was a little garden of his own. Then as my back deteriorated, and my disability took hold, I found even the carrying of a bucket of compost to top up the sacks physically exhausting. I also started to find that no matter what you do, and no matter how many drainage holes there are in the sack the soil at the bottom becomes quickly damp. There is then a distinct lack of air in the soil and the feeling that things could grow in this bottom layer that would drag you down into a moist death. Carol commented on this as we slit the bag open. This is another problem with this kind of growing system, even the reusable bags aren't reusable, of the ones I invested in two years ago I have only three left that are just usable. The other eight have frayed or when we came to harvest simply split. We got this potato sack at a growing day in town, they were giving away dozens of them and I have to question the sustainability of such practice as these are just one use plastic bags. We should be limiting our plastic use and any one use plastic should be banned. Sadly, the potato industry are very guilty of this. When I worked in Ormskirk I saw field after field of plastic coverings from which potatoes were sprouting. This practice eventually kills the soil as growers rely more and more on chemicals and less and less on soil health. Even the UK Government understand that our soil is on the brink of death, we have 30-40 years left if we're lucky. It's time that many of us learn to protect our soil and such plastic bags for growing spuds in doesn't do that, it just replicates big agriculture in little gardens. We need more allotments and we need growing and food as a central part of all education for children and adults. Think of it in terms of well being and simple bloody common sense. So how did the harvest in this plastic sack compare to similar plantings in open ground? 

Woman gardener

It was rather disappointing affair with the yield just under half a pound of spuds. Because of the moist issue, I will stop using that word soon, Carol found several potatoes that had turned rotten. Those that were left were lovely, new potatoes but the variety was a main crop, meaning that the spuds never really took off because of the lack of soil life. The variety planted was Golden Mayan, another sarpo variety that we are not impressed with. We are so unimpressed by the yield that they have been banished to the corner of the kitchen table in the smallest basket we have. We have shunned them for their poor turn out. Even Blue Danube, another sarpo variety, out shone the Mayans and we both thought the yield for them was poor but at least they weren't moist (won't use that word again, you can stop shuddering).

Woman gardener

All this though doesn't dampen Carol's love for doing this and we agree that next year we will make several new raised beds for growing potatoes in. So far we are hoping to grow Arran Victory again but I have yet to tell Carol that the catalogues now lolling through our open letterbox seem to not have that seed potato in them. Such are the ups and downs of growing. You find a spud you love and the spud ceases to be.

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