Salad potatoes are great when steamed (or boiled if you must) and served with butter they also can be used to make potato salad of course. My favourite is Charlotte and I also like Nicola.
If you grow them yourself, you can harvest before the skins have formed or are so thin that you don’t have to bother peeling. This year, I’m growing Charlotte and Nicola varieties in 70 litre sacks in the greenhouse. I’ve done this before and have even started as early as January, but this year I planted at the beginning of March. For this, you’ll need 70 litre plastic woven sacks (I got mine off ebay around 5 years ago). You’ll also need some good compost, and this year, as always, I’m using Clover. If you have made your own compost over the past year, then use that as it works out much cheaper.
You’ll need to spread a layer of compost on the bottom of the sack (around 2 inches), then place a seed potato in each corner and one in the middle. Cover each seed potatoes with compost (again about 2 inches) and water. Keep watering regularly and after a while (mine took a couple of weeks), you’ll notice the plants start to push through the compost. Cover the growth with a layer of compost. Repeat this process (water, cover growth with compost), until the bag is full. You can then transfer the bag outside if you wish, but make sure that any chance of frost has passed. Potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to die off. To test if ready, push your hand into the soil and pull one of the potatoes up. You really can’t beat the taste of home grown potatoes.
Carrots are a great staple, but can be hard to grow successfully due to the dreaded carrot fly. The received wisdom when growing carrots is that we sow hundreds of seeds and then thin out to the desired spacing. However, thinning the seedlings attracts carrot fly and can lead to a ruined crop.
A couple of years ago, I tried a method which, while arduous, did work and I’m using the same method this year. First, I want baby carrots and I want them fast! I’m concerned that the longer they’re in the ground, the more chance there is of infestation and a ruined crop. I’ve already planted out a carrot called “Eskimo” as the seeds were just lying around in my seed box, but these are maincrop, overwintering carrots, so I’ve now bought some “Early Nantes”which should mature in 60 days (or less for baby carrots).
Last Autumn and over winter, I dug lots of pelleted chicken manure into my plot and, turning a few beds over last week, I could see lots of worms which is a good sign. This year, I’ve decided to make my beds “straddle-able” which simply means they’re around 15 inches wide so I can straddle the bed whilst planting, sowing or weeding. Before I start sowing the carrot seed, I dug in some more chicken pellets (about a handful per square foot) and then compressed the ground by walking over it. I then use an old fork handle to bore holes in the ground (the handle is just under 2 inches in diameter). I space most things so I can get a hoe between the plants as I find this easier to weed. I then fill the holes with a fine compost and sharp sand mix (50:50). This mixture is tamped down to get a firm growing medium. I then poke a little hole into this mixture with my finger and place ONE seed per hole. The seeds are then covered with a little compost and then watered. Now, this isn’t the most efficient method as you could space the carrots closer, and, if the germination rate is poor, you’ll probably have two thirds of your bed unproductive, but, you won’t get bothered with carrot fly and you can always plant more carrot (or other vegetables) into the holes that haven’t germinated. You can feed the carrots weekly to encourage better growth.