TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

April 2, 2013

Potatoes Planted

Filed under: Chef's Plot, potato, vegetable gardening — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 2:34 pm

The Chef was impatient, the potato seed was becoming wizened, so he planted his potatoes in the plot.

The Chef worked on the soil to warm it up.  In the morning, he dug a 4″ trench when the sun was shining & covered it with fleece.  By 3pm the soil had warmed up to 7 degrees.



So, he planted the seed potatoes in the bottom of the trench and covered them with a thin layer of soil.  Fleece was then placed over the top of the planted potatoes  to keep the warmth in.

One row of Maris Bard potato seed was planted about 12″ apart.  About 15 tubers were planted altogether.

October 31, 2012

What to do in November

Filed under: Uncategorized, calendar — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 8:36 pm

There are still a lot of jobs to do in the garden in November, particularly in this mild weather; there are seeds to sow, crops to harvest & there is the general tidying up of the vegetable garden.

Sow in November:



Plant in November:

November Harvest:





Other gardening jobs to be done in November:



  • digging, if it is not too wet, otherwise leave till the new year
  • applying well rotted farm yard manure or compost to ground where next year’s crop will be peas, beans, onions, leeks, celery or spinach
  • clear fallen leaves and put them on the compost heap
  • collect, clean and store bean supports
  • check stored crops & remove any which are starting to decay
  • keep an eye out for pigeons & slugs which may be a problem in November

April 22, 2011

Plant Potatoes!

Filed under: potato — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 8:25 am

It must be time to plant potatoes!  

Folk lore dictates that potatoes are planted on Good Friday.  Good Friday was the first day the working  man would have off between Christmas and Easter.  He was keen to plant potatoes at the first opportunity because they were a staple food for his family. 



Folk law also states that

  • in Northern Ireland you plant potatoes on St Patrick’s day and dig them up on the 12th July.
  • or..  on the nearest full moon to St.Patrick’s Day (16 March 2011)  plant the first earlies


So, it is up to you to choose which bit of folk lore you are going to follow when it comes to planting potatoes!

February 21, 2010

Time to Plant Fruit Trees

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 10:08 am

There is still time to plant fruit trees.



The planting season is in their dormant season,  any time during the winter and early Spring months.

  • Bare root fruit trees should be planted out when they are dormant  – from late October   until February or early March.  November & December are the best months as it gives the fruit trees time to settle in before the growing season.
  • Pot grown fruit trees can be planted out almost anytime, as long as they are watered well & looked after for a good couple of years after planting


Growing fresh fruit gives lasting rewards!  Fruit trees yield fruit year after year!  Fruit is easy to store and contributes to  a healthy diet

Fruit trees can be grown in a variety of places, and there are varieties for small spaces.  Places to grow fruit trees include:

  • vegetable  garden
  • flower garden
  • allotment
  • patio
  • decking
  • balcony


Click this link to buy some fruit trees whilst there is still time to plant them.

February 10, 2010

Covering Soil before Potato Planting

Filed under: potato — Tags: , , , , , — TopVeg @ 9:49 am

We have been covering the soil to keep it dry before potato planting.

  • At the end of November we put an old plastic sheet over the bed which was coming potatoes.  We held it down with bricks, old pallets & a few strategically placed stakes. The idea was to keep the rain off, so that it did not become too wet to dig in the spring
  • Over the last few weeks we have rolled the sheet back to do a bit of digging – & have just finished the job.

digging potato ground

  • On sunny or windy days we rolled the sheet back to let the soil dry.  Yesterday was the first good drying day we had had for ages – warm sun & a drying wind.


  • Luckily, we remembered to put the cover back on in the evening


  • Today the sheet was covered in snow!  If the sheet had not been on, the snow would have wet the soil, which would have delayed potato planting.  Before the potatoes are planted the soil needs to be dry & warm, otherwise they will not start to grow & will rot.


Covering the soil before potato planting will mean that we can be more in control of the dates we plant potato seed.

February 9, 2010

When to Plant Seed Potatoes

Filed under: potato — Tags: , , , , — TopVeg @ 11:43 am

When to plant seed potatoes depends on many factors:

  • variety of potato
  • location of potato plot
  • weather
  • condition of soil
  • protection available


Potato varieties can be divided into three main types & each type has a different growing season:

  • New Potatoes, or earliesplanted from January* to March and are ready for digging from May-July
  • Second earlies – planted between February* and May and harvested from July to October
  • Maincrop- planted in April and harvesting is in September and October

*WARNING – in the UK most potato planting is usually delayed until March, in sheltered and southern areas, or April in colder parts, unless protection is available.

If potatoes are planted too early there is a danger that:

  • the seed will rot in the ground if it is wet & cold
  • the shoots will be frosted off when the new, tender shoots emerge before the last frost.


Location of potato plot is important:

  • Plots in the south of the UK can usually plant a few weeks earlier than those in the north
  • Sheltered plots can be planted earlier
  • Plots in frost pockets need extra care


The weather for the current year determines when the potatoes can be planted. Temperature, rain & snow effect planting date.   Some seasons are later than others, as is 2010!

cover soil

The condition of the soil must be right. There is no point putting potatoes into wet, cold soil. They will not start to grow & will probably rot off. But the ground can be covered with plastic to keep the rain off, so that the soil is kept dry before planting the potato seed. The plastic will also warm the soil a few degrees.


When protection is available, potatoes can be planted earlier. Types of protection put over seed once planted:

  • black plastic
  • cloche
  • polytunnel
  • straw

When to plant potatoes in containers

  • Late January in an unheated greenhouse, cover with fleece in frosty weather
  • Outside in late February in mild southern areas, or April in colder parts. Protect from frosts when forecast.

Click this link to buy some potato seed.

When considering the best time to plant potatoes there are many points to consider.

February 1, 2010

Jobs for February in the Vegetable Garden

Filed under: calendar — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 1:11 am

There are plenty of jobs to be done in the vegetable garden in February!


indoors from seed in trays or pots:

  • early beetroot Bietola da Orto Paonazza d’Egitto is ideal for early sowings as matures quickly.  Good for children to grow.
  • broad beans
  • spinach Spinach Perpetual is a prolific strain of spinach beet.
  • summer cabbage Savoy Cabbage Estoril seeds can be sown under glass in February, and planted out when plants have 2-3 true leaves.
  • calabrese for summer cropping
  • globe artichoke
  • lettuce sowing a few seed each week will give a continuous supply of lettuce

outside from seed under cloches in mild areas – early beetroot, lettuce, spring onions, salad leaves, spinach



in the garden as soon as the ground is workable – onion setsshallots and garlic






rhubarb & cover to force early stalks

Jerusalem artichoke



Early sprouting broccoli, cabbages, sprouts, kale, leeks, celery and parsnips



Other Jobs:

  • chit potatoes
  • apply fertiliser to ground before sowing early crops, to overwintered vegetables, to soft fruit bushes
  • cut down autumn fruiting raspberry canes to ground level and mulch
  • dig the garden if the soil is dry


The jobs to be done in the vegetable garden in February complete the circle of sowing and harvesting!

December 23, 2009

How and When to Plant Herbs

Filed under: herbs — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 1:23 am

The table below shows how and when herbs can be planted in the garden.



Bay is usually planted as a shrub or a tree, from October to April.  Bay makes a good feature when  planted in containers, but it will live happily in the garden, as long as it is in a sheltered spot, protected from cold winds.  


Rosemary and Sage can be planted as seed or cuttings in April.


Parsley,is sown as seed in April or September.  The seed takes a long time to germinate.  This is speeded up by bruising the seeds or covering the seed row with boiling water. 


The table of How and When to Plant Herbs is included in the How to Grow Culinary Herbs ebook written by TopVeg & Farming Friends which costs £3.

Click this link to buy a copy of the ebook How to Grow Culinary Herbs.

If you would like a free pdf of  the  table of ‘How and When to Plant Herbs’, please complete the contact form asking for the table of ‘How and When to Plant Herbs’ and we will email it to you.

December 21, 2009

How to prepare soil for potato planting

Filed under: potato — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 1:45 am

The soil must be prepared before potato seed is  planted. The prepared soil is called a seed bed.

The condition of the seed bed at planting is critical to the success of the potato crop.

The potato seedbed should be:

  • level

  • made up of fine particles

  • even – the same all over, & to a depth of about 6 inches

The seedbed for potatoes is prepared on the same day as planting the potatoes takes place.  Do not work the soil if it is wet.  If you have a planned date for planting potatoes, the soil can be covered over a week or two before planting, so that it does not get rained on, and will be dry when you want to work it.



Use a rake to level the seedbed.
Stand on a board, placed over the adjacent ground, to protect the soil from being trampled down.



When potato seed is planted into a dry seed bed, the soil particles and crumbs are at their minimum size. When it rains after planting, the soil crumbs will expand, making the soil firmer around the seed, so that the soil is in close contact with the potato seed, allowing the seed to take in water. Soil/seed contact is important.

If soil is sticking to hands and tools when preparing the seed row, the soil is too wet for planting. When planting into soil which is too wet, the soil particles will shrink as they dry out, and the soil will become loose and open so that the soil/seed contact is reduced.

The soil should not be worked into a dust, because when it is watered, it will slump and become too dense, so that oxygen is not available to the seed.

November 10, 2009

Plant autumn garlic

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 2:37 pm

There is still time to plant autumn garlic.  Garlic is easy to grow, good fro the heart and gums, and very handy in the kitchen!
The Germidour variety of garlic is:

  • soft necked
  • autumn planting
  • large, white bulbs
  • mild but  rich flavour.

Click this link to buy some germidour garlic.


Germidour garlic

Germidour garlic


The Messidrome variety of garlic:

  • soft necked
  • autumn planting
  • large, white bulbs
  • excellent flavour for cooking.

Click this link to buy some Messidrome garlic.


Messidrome garlic

Messidrome garlic


To plant autumn garlic:

  • plant from early October to early December
  • separate the bulbs into individual cloves


  • plant the cloves just below the surface


  • cloves 10cm apart
  • rows 15-20cm apart
  • the pointed end of the clove should be upwards
  • soil needs to be free-draining so that the cloves are waterlogged


Click the link to buy some Autumn Garlic which can be planted up to early December, as long as the soil is not too wet.

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