Yesterday, I checked that our Lisetas this season were ready for lifting and “bandicooted” four lovely potatoes for dinner. Another tip for growing potatoes is that you can harvest spuds without digging up the entire plant by gently slipping your hand in the dirt around the plants without disturbing the roots. This way the potatoes you harvest are “new”. It may suit you to keep a few plants in the ground if space isn’t an issue and you want new potatoes, especially on Christmas day. However, I wouldn’t recommend leaving them in the ground for a very long time otherwise they might go a bit funny.
Today, the wwoofers (two young German girls) helped me lift a row of Liseta potatoes that were planted on 1st August (see photo of our harvest). Liseta is an early variety and takes between 70-80 days to mature. I heard about Liseta through the NZ Gardener magazine. Lynda Hallinan did a potato trial a few years ago and managed to get 20kg from a 1kg bag of seed potatoes, which I thought was very impressive. I grew them for the first time last year and we had a wonderful crop which I gave to the partners of my previous firm Bell Gully as a Christmas present. You can’t really buy the partners of a large law firm anything they can’t already afford and they were chuffed with the gift.
After the potatoes were dug up, we planted a mixed row of Rocket and Swift seed potatoes in the same place. These are very quick-maturing varieties, ready in just 60 days. I see that Metservice have predicted rain for later this week, which will help them to emerge.
The girls helped pot up my apple cucumber seedlings from Yates Seeds. Since they have just come off the heat pad and look quite fragile, I didn’t want to harden them off straight away so I moved them into the greenhouse. In their place on the heat pad, I sowed some Honey and Pearl corn from Egmont Seeds and Kings Seeds. I only managed to nail growing sweet corn for the first time last summer. I have written an extensive blog post on the subject which you can read here: https://www.anitakundu.co.nz/blog/growing-guide-corn. Here are my top tips:
· Corn is very easy to grow from seed, although you can buy seedlings in garden centres
· Don’t sow seed too early or it won’t grow well
· Don’t leave sowing seed too late either, as corn needs a long growing season. October is generally perfect
· Soaking seeds overnight can aid germination as they have a hard coating
· Either sow seed in punnets for transplanting later or directly where you want them to grow. It’s often said that it’s better to sow direct as so you don’t interfere with the roots when transplanting seedlings, but bear in mind that seed can get scratched up by birds and cats. I’ve never had issues with corn grown from transplanted seedlings and you should also be fine as long as you take care when handling them
· Corn does best grown in full sun
· Choose a sheltered spot as corn can topple over if it gets windy
· Work lots of compost into the soil, as well as some sheep pellets and granular fertiliser. Last year, I used Nitrophoska and had my best crop ever!
· Corn is pollinated by the wind. Plant corn in blocks rather than rows to aid pollination
· Space seeds or seedlings at least a hand span apart. Don’t plant corn too close otherwise it won’t grow well, but not too far apart or the kernals won’t all be pollinated
· Liquid feed plants weekly with Yates Thrive Natural Fish and Seaweed for best results
· Depending on the variety, corn takes around 100 days to mature
· Corn is ready to be picked when the silks on the ends of the corn become dry and brown
Who else is growing spuds and corn this summer? How are they coming along?