OUT IN THE GARDEN: Gardening advice for the non-gardener, in association with Baytree Garden Centre, of Weston
My daughter came home from school the other week having done a project on healthy eating. I listened to her explaining what she had learnt as I opened a bag of frozen chips and poured them into the fat fryer.
Spurred on by my recent success in creating an Easter planted container for my mum, plus feeling now that I really ought to be following Elizabeth’s advice on how to eat healthier, I thought this week I would have ago a growing my own potatoes to impress my daughter.
I thought it would be tricky as while I have a fairly large garden, in essence I’m lazy. The idea of spending hours digging , getting dirt under my finger nails and breaking my back didn’t fill me with joy.
Then I read that you can grow potatoes in containers with no need for manual labour – result, I thought.
I remember from science at school, whenever you do an experiment you should have pictures and a written method so here goes, and for the health and safety conscious out there I can confirm that I wore goggles, gloves and a high-vis jacket.
Step 1 – Buy your seed potatoes. I went for Charlotte as I think they make great salad potatoes and it ticks the healthy eating box too. They weren’t expensive either at only £2.99 for the pack.
I rushed home thinking: “Great, I’ll plant these in some soil and in a few months I’ll have potatoes coming out of my ears.” No, you have to ‘chitt’ them first. Chitting turns out to be the process of getting the potatoes to start forming shoots. Why they don’t call it shooting I don’t know. Actually on second thoughts telling people you’re shooting potatoes would probably land you in a lot of trouble.
Step 2 – Chitt your potatoes by placing them in an egg box, one potato in each section, and leave them in a cool room with natural light. I’m leaving them for a couple of weeks to form shoots.
That’s as far as I’ve been able to get. I’ve put my potatoes on the window sill in my spare room. Everyone who visits the house is given a guided tour of my chitting potatoes whether they want a tour or not.
Following advice from Graham at Baytree I’ve bought some multi -purpose compost with added John Innes. I have no idea who John Innes is and what he is doing in a bag of compost but Graham says it’s the best compost to use.