I do not put ads on my blog but do have a counter that shows me how many visits the pages get. (The stats. count is just there so I can see if I am 'talking' to myself, luckily so far this has not happened.) By continuing your visit here you are consenting to the stats. counter tracking cookies. Cookies, that sounds like something nice to eat but not that exciting.

Growing Your Own Fruit and Vegetables

We grow our own fruit and vegetables for our meals for as much of the year as we can. Without a greenhouse we have to buy shop food in the winter months but in the spring, summer and autumn we often have enough to share with family and friends.

Read about growing your fruit and vegetables here on my growing your own food pages.

How To ... tips and ideas on how to grow fruit and vegetables for your meals.

How to tell when your potatoes are ready to dig up and harvest.

Just Unearthed New Potatoes

photo:    two new potatoes just unearthed.
photo: two new potatoes just unearthed.
Here I am going to tell you how to discover if your home grown potatoes are ready to lift and eat. By using this method you will not spoil any of the crop and the potato plant can be left in the soil if they need more time to develop further.
The technique is sometimes called 'Furtling'. 

  • Checking if your potatoes are ready to harvest and eat with this simple technique, in a way that is useful and effective. 
You will want to harvest some of your first early potaotes as soon as they are ready but it is not neccassary to dig up all of your potato crop at the same time. Fresh out of the ground and cooked the same day, the first home grown new potatoes of the season are always the most enjoyable to eat. The taste and texture of own grown is often superior to shop bought potatoes.

Your first early potatoes will be the first ones to mature.
They will take about 0-12 weeks from planting to develop into new potatoes, the time will vary according to the variety. (Rocket and Swift being ready in less time) and the timing will also be affected by weather conditions and how warm the soil has been.
              First Early Potatoes. 
  • Can be lifted and eaten as soon as they're ready, this can be when above-ground growth is still green and usually as soon as the flowers open.

Discovering if your new potatoes are ready. 
When you want to find out if your potatoes are ready to eat but are not sure they are ready for you to dig them out or lift them with a spade or garden fork. Try this method to test the size of the potatoes:

Kneel by the plant and gently work your hand or a hand held garden fork into the earth around the potato. If the soil is soft (I do not do this with a fork) I find it easier just to gradually unearth one or two of the new potatoes by carefully clearing the soil from around them.
Now you can see if they are a reasonable size to eat and how they are progressing, and  if you do this gently enough and  if they are still not ready to eat and you have not detached them from the main potato plant you can cover them up again, so long you are gentle they will carry on growing to maturity. If they are large enough to eat just take what you need for today's meal. You can continue to use this method until you are ready to harvest your crop of potatoes.
Enjoy eating your new potatoes - whatever variety you have grown.
Some varieties are great with salads, I like Charlotte potatoes for eating in this way. 
You can cook your potatoes in the ways that suit the type you have grown best -  roasted,mashed, baked, chipped, sauteed, as fritters or simply boiled.
You will know they will have a better texture and flavour than 'mass produced' supermarket packaged potatoes.
Do not forget to water and earth up the potatoes that are not ready to harvest yet.

Unearthing potatoes to check if they are ready to dig up...

A way to harvest a few new potatoes at a time.

Checking potatoes to see if they are ready to harvest.

Here are the reasons why carefully checking your new potatoes at the beginning of the time to harvest them works better than digging a potato plant up (completely) to see how the growing potatoes are developing is simple -
  • If the potatoes are not ready you have not damaged the plant
  • You can remove just the quantity or potatoes you need to use
  • If you are careful and do not detach the potatoes that are too small to eat you can leave them to develop and grow to a useful size.
  • You can continue to do this for sometime as it is not a good idea to dig the first early potatoes up and store them. It is much better to harvest them in usable batches.
  • In the early stages of the plant being ready to yield a crop; on the same potato plant you will often have small immature baby potatoes and larger ones that are big enough to eat. If you remove the new potatoes that are ready carefully, the immature ones can remain attached to the plant and grow on to the required size.

Once you want to lift more potatoes in one go you can do this by the traditional way with a garden fork or garden spade.

a healthy potato plant in flower

a healthy potato plant in flower
photo of potatoes in flower

home grown carrots.. grown from seed

home grown carrots.. grown from seed
photo of my first bunch of carrots 2009

Even a small batch of mixed fruit can be useful

Even a small batch of mixed fruit can be useful
Home Grown Fruit can be made into delicious compote