Air-Pot Garden Extras
Customer Experiences - Cowbraehill
Trying our best with Potatoes : Our own Potato Growing Trial at Cowbraehill
We are amateurs growing potatoes on a windy hillside south of Edinburgh. Helping us is Jackie, a retired farmer who has farmed potatoes all his life. His knowledge of potato growing is abundant; his curiosity about the Air-Pot container very healthy, but so is his scepticism! This, I say to reassure customers that this report is not a whitewash; it is very real and objective - designed to pass on useful tips, so that they may avoid the pitfalls which we have experienced as beginners in the vegetable garden.
For a second year we grew potatoes both in drills in the ground and alongside in our Air-Pot Potato Towers – 50L with a base for a terrace, 80L and 150L, which sit directly on the soil. But we were a bit late in getting started because of the weather.
Following the experience of the first year, where the quality of the Air-Pot crop was dramatically better than the in-ground crop, with no blight and no greening, but the weight was disappointing due to lack of watering in the Air-Pot containers, we were eager to see an increase in the yield and improve even further (if possible!) the quality of the spuds.
We can be excited again about the quality of the 2010 crop. Jackie has 4 main measures, including rot/disease; cracks; slug attack; greening. As a 5th measure he also looks at the moisture level of the growing medium at harvest. He is genuinely amazed by the quality of the potatoes grown in Air-Pot containers and used Air-Pot grown potatoes exclusively as seed, so well had the quality of the 2009 crop held up. The quality differential in 2010 was even greater. Each variety is scored out of 5 in the 5 criteria listed above and the Air-Pot spuds scored 50% higher than the in-ground.
In order to improve on the weight of the Air-Pot crop, we installed a drip watering system. This made a big difference ..... until it failed! Sadly, too much pressure caused some of the drippers to blow off – a disaster which went unnoticed for a crucial 3 weeks.
The feed added to the Air-Pot containers and to the soil was the same. However, in Jackie’s opinion, the potatoes in the ground were at an advantage on this score, because it is fertile soil with all the goodies from last year’s manure etc giving it an advantage.
The yield from the in-ground crop therefore again exceeded the Air-Pot crop by 25%. After months of eating the results, we can however, report that there is no waste with the Air-Pot crop. The potatoes look good and taste better for longer!
We are determined that there will be no excuses on the watering front in 2011! A pressure-reducing valve has been purchased! Our challenge is to equal the weight of the field crop and to maintain the excellent quality. We shall use a different area of the garden to ensure we avoid disease.