Carrots 1 – New Potatoes 43


Most of us enjoy eating new potatoes. The ‘Earlies’, those first varieties we planted at the beginning of spring, are particularly delicious at the moment. Did you know that potatoes are fun to dig up too? The magic of scuffling around in the soil to try and find every last one never fades. They’re worth planting, even if you don’t have an allotment or veg patch – just a few in a tub in the garden will do. Children love hunting for them when they’re ready to dig up.

I’ve tried a few different varieties of peas on my new allotment. Pea ‘Hurst Green Shaft’ has been really productive and I’ll grow it again. Mangetout ‘Shiraz’ was another experiment. Their purple pods look unusual in a stir-fry and they’re said to be a good antioxidant. They’re at their best when they’re very young – just before the peas begin to show.

Just now, the flowers of the Runner beans are adding a blaze of colour to the allotments.  They’re thirsty plants and need plenty of watering, particularly when the beans start to ‘set’ (grow).  This year, I’m trying to grow them in large tubs in the garden.

I’m using the space on the allotment to grow Climbing French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ and Dwarf French bean ‘Safari’ instead. Apparently, French beans tolerate dry conditions better than Runner beans so I’m hoping they’ll cope well with the allotment’s free draining soil if I can’t get there to water as often as I’d like.

Most of us have at least one disaster a season. This year, I sowed masses of carrot seeds but only have one lonely carrot to show for my efforts. I’m not quite sure why. As one allotment neighbour pointed out, there are no real rules to planting. Every year is different. This year, his onions are close to perfect while his neighbour’s haven’t done well at all.

Don’t forget the flowers! Nasturtiums and marigolds are useful companion plants in a vegetable patch. They attract plenty of pollinators and lots of aphid-eating insects. They’re good to eat too. Nasturtium leaves and flowers can be a colourful occasional addition to a salad.





  1. Graham says:

    If you want to enjoy the magic, you can dig my potatoes at any time!
    Every year is indeed different.
    Last year, garlic was perfect, but this year, after a warm wet winter when most other plants grew well, the garlic crop is hardly worth having: quite small and a large proportion affected by some kind of rot. I can remember learning that garlic need a really cold spell over winter.
    Carrots are as good as they have ever been and so far, surrounded by a fleece barrier, free from carrot fly. Also peas are almost free from pea moth weevils: just two pods affected in the first two rows.
    The runner bean crop is going to be fantastic. For whatever reason, the crop is setting well, with many pods on each flower stem. To get all those pods to a good size is going to need a lot of watering.
    With all best wishes for your column.

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