This week we finished planting the first of our outdoor potato beds, laying out 18 tubers of second early Wilja. This is, for us, a fairly modern variety, bred in Holland in the 1970s. It crops and stores well and can be treated as an early main crop. Mid way between floury and waxy, Wilja is a versatile potato and a good choice if growing only one sort. We had already prepared the bed for the first earlies that went in a few weeks ago, so it was just a matter of digging holes with the trowel, dropping in the tubers, and covering over. We also took the last of the seed potatoes, which we had stored in the fridge to retard them, and put them to chit; these will go in the second potato bed in a few weeks’ time.
We checked on those seeds sown last week and were pleased to see that many had germinated already – the benefit of heated propagators. With a bit of reorganisation we made enough space in one of the propagators to fit in some larger pots of sweetcorn Lark F1. This would be a bit too early to sow for the outdoor crop, but this batch will be planted in the polytunnel. Sweetcorn is one of only two hybrids that I grow, the other being CT’s favourite tomato, Sungold F1. The hybrid corn retains its sweetness for longer than the open pollinated sorts, which can be advantageous. When we grew the open pollinated Golden Bantam, though, the flavour was excellent and the plants incredibly vigorous. I will certainly be revisiting open pollinated corn, even though the seed is becoming increasingly difficult to find.
Having planted out our lettuce and brassica seedlings a couple of weeks ago, we sowed the new batch in modules: kale Dwarf Green Curled; cabbages Copenhagen Market and Red Drumhead; cauliflower Snowball; sprouting broccoli Rudolph; and lettuces Black Seeded Simpson, Little Gem, and Batavia Blonde de Paris.
A few weeks ago we sowed two 7.5 litre pots with early carrot Amsterdam Forcing. With these germinated and growing away, we prepared two more pots to follow on. We put these with the others in one of the glasshouses. When we earthed up some of the potato pots that are also growing in the glasshouses a couple of weeks ago, only half of them were ready. The warmer weather recently has seen these put on lots of growth and all but one sad little specimen were now ready to be earthed up. We sorted the pots in order of development; the most vigorous pots should be ready to start harvesting at the end of the month. For some reason there is a lot of variability with them this year.
Finally, we sowed some Good King Henry in modules. This perennial was commonly cultivated for its young shoots and leaves but is now rather neglected. It is a species of goosefoot – so named because of the shape of the leaves – Chenopodium bonus-henricus, and closely related to the common annual weed known as fat hen, Chenopodium album, and the grain substitute quinoa, Chenopodium quinoa.