Welcome to Lesley Upton’s blog about life on the allotment, where she will look at life on her Berkshire plot, from the veg she is growing to how people are living with the threat of coronavirus. In this first post, she looks at potatoes…

Life on the Allotment: Spuds

With the recent outbreak of coronavirus and the government’s advice for us to stay at home, I’ve been suffering from a bit of cabin fever. But one place I can go to is my allotment.

I’ve been to the allotment a couple of times over the past week or so, but seen very few people. Those I have seen have kept their distance and haven’t talked much. I think we are regarding the allotment as a haven – somewhere we can escape the problems facing us today and forget about the risks for a few hours.

To that end, I’m going to be writing about what’s happening on my allotment over the next few weeks and months, concentrating on what I’m growing but also finding out what other people are doing and how they’re coping in these difficult times.

Life on the Allotment Spuds

I thought this potato looked like a heart

What’s on the plot

I’ve had my allotment for about 14 years. At first I had five poles (a half-sized allotment), but then found it wasn’t big enough and a few years later took another five poles to make the ‘standard’ ten poles, or roughly the size of a tennis court. The soil is pretty good, but with quite a lot of clay, and I’ve managed to grow most of the veg I’ve wanted.

This year, I plan to grow the ‘usual suspects’, such as potatoes, cabbages, runner beans, French beans, onions, shallots, garlic, Brussels sprouts, sweetcorn, broad beans.

My potato picks

The potatoes are chitting [sprouting] in seed trays and egg boxes in the greenhouse, waiting to be planted. Most of the tubers have small shoots, so over the next few days I hope to get a few of them in the ground.

I’ll be planting four varieties: ‘Charlotte’, ‘Foremost’, ‘Desiree’ and ‘Picasso’.

‘Charlotte’:
This is a salad potato that’s treated as a first early. It’s a yellow skinned, waxy potato with yellow flesh that’s tastes great both hot and cold. It has a high resistance to blight.

‘Foremost’:
This is a first-early potato. It is white-skinned and has a firm, waxy texture. I actually prefer this to the ‘Charlotte’ as it doesn’t taste as waxy.

‘Desiree’:
This is an early maincrop variety. It has a gorgeous red skin with pale yellow waxy flesh. It’s drought-tolerant, which has been useful in the past when conditions have been dry, and is great for mash, roasting and chips. (See picture below).

• ‘Picasso’:
This is another early maincrop. It has a white skin with red ‘eyes’ and creamy flesh. It’s a popular variety on allotments and is great for baking and mashing.

Life on the Allotment Spuds

‘Desiree’ potatoes chitting in the greenhouse. Note the odd-shaped one in the top right

Get in touch

If there’s something you would like me to talk about, just ask. And don’t forget to let us know what you are doing and how you are coping; send us your thoughts and pictures and we will put them online and in the magazine.

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Life on the Allotment Spuds

My husband thought this potato looked liked my bum – if only my bum were this size!

Check out our next instalments and don’t forget you can read more every week in Amateur Gardening.