Alex Mungo, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting

Have you ever wondered why you can go in a shop and buy lovely potatoes and onions throughout a long and very cold winter that have been grown right here in the UK? Actually, it’s all in how they are grown, harvested and stored that makes a difference. You, too, can grow your own potatoes and onions with just a few tips so that you know when and how to plant them and, of course, when and how to harvest and store.

Growing your own potatoes
It isn’t as difficult as it may seem, but you will need to be aware of a few well-placed bits of advice from farming experts such as Carpenter’s Nursery and Farm Shop who make it their mission to provide the best products and information specific to UK growers.

Choosing and Planting Your Seed Potatoes

The first thing you need to know about growing potatoes is in how to choose your seed potatoes to ensure you have virus-free, certified seed and that you’ve prepared your soil approximately two weeks prior to planting. Of course, you also need to have previously placed your ‘seeds’ in trays that are well ventilated with the eyes facing upwards and outwards.

Allow them to grow to at least ½” to 1” in length, or if you prefer metric, 12 to 25 mm. This will take a few weeks, but when they have grown to a good length, you can now plant them in soil that was properly prepared and ready to accept your crop.

Growing potatoes at home

How Long Before You Can Harvest?

This is a question most asked by those who are planting potatoes for the first time. There are actually various times you can harvest and the exciting thing to learn here is that you don’t need to harvest the entire crop at the very same time! You can scrape off a bit of soil to expose the upper potatoes and once they have grown about the size of an egg, you can safely harvest a few new potatoes.

This is approximately 12 weeks, or a bit longer, into the growing season. The rest of the crop will take 6 to 8 weeks longer and at that point you will need to learn how to ‘lift’ them from the soil so that you don’t damage the tubers.

Growing Onions at Home

Like potatoes, onions should be planted sometime between mid-March through mid-April but unlike potatoes, you need to be very careful not to have manured the ground too close to planting. While potatoes can go into ground which has been manured two weeks prior to planting, soil prepared for onions should be prepared a good bit earlier than that as freshly manured soil can easily lead to rot and you surely don’t want that!

Growing onions at home

A Few Closing Words

While potatoes are technically tubers and onions are a root variety plant like garlic and shallots, both will have the main ‘edible’ under the soil. What you have just read through is but a brief idea of just how easy it can be to grow your own potatoes and onions and since both are planted and harvested at about the same times of year, it helps to learn how to do both as it saves you unnecessary steps when preparing and planting your garden.

Both can be stored over a long winter and both are hardy if you start with certified seeds and bulbs. This year, why not plant your own potatoes and onions and enjoy home-grown, organic crops. It’s fun, easy and absolutely rewarding.

Alex MungoAlex is a professional writer with a keen interest in gardening. He currently contributes written articles to various gardening websites such as Carpenters Nursery & Farm Shop.

Alex Mungo, Christmas, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting

grow your own christmas tree
Ever thought to grow your own Christmas tree? Growing your own Christmas tree offers a number of benefits over buying at a local nursery or tree farm. The experience of nurturing and shaping the tree for years leading up to its harvest will help you and your family develop a sentimental sense of kinship to an evergreen that will serve as the focal point of your holiday decorations. It’s also a great learning experience for children, and caring for a large patch of trees makes for a great pastime that will provide you with a new Christmas tree every year. Here’s some basic advice to help you prepare for growing your own Christmas trees in the UK.

Consider Starting with a Rooted Tree from a Nursery

Did you know it takes about 6-9 years for an evergreen to reach a desirable height for a Christmas tree when started from seed? Luckily, it’s possible to skip the long wait by purchasing pre-rooted trees that are already a few feet tall from tree farms and nurseries. Carpenter’s Nursery in the St Albans area is a great example of a nursery where you can choose from a variety of trees that have been grown locally.

Choose a Type to Grow

grow your own christmas tree 1

Christmas trees can be split into three main categories – firs, pines, and spruces. The type you choose to grow should be based on personal preference and the planting zone you live in. The most popular firs grown in the UK are Fraser, Noble and Nordmann. Lodgepole and White pines are also common choices, as are Blue, Norway and White spruces. Be sure to research the appearance and growing requirements of each kind before deciding which type you’d like best. Many people choose a few different kinds to line up their Christmas tree variety for the coming years. Spruces tend to lose more needles and are less fragrant than firs, while pines hold the middle ground in terms of aroma and shedding.

Watering, Shaping, Pruning and Shearing

Although Christmas trees are generally low maintenance plants, you will need to stick to a watering, pest control, and shaping regimen to produce a tree that will be worthy of being called a Christmas tree. After a tree is more than a year old, it’ll be established enough to only require supplemental watering during drought periods. Once the tree is 2-3 years old, it’ll need to be pruned or sheared annually after flushing new growth, which typically occurs in the middle of summer. The goal is to keep the tree shaped like a Christmas tree so that it grows into that shape. Gradually maintaining the shape of the tree with proper shearing techniques will prevent you from having to make noticeably visible cuts to the exterior during its final season.

Recognising Disease and Pest Problems

how to grow your own christmas tree

It’s normal for evergreens to drop about 30% of their needles every year, so some shedding of the older interior needles is nothing to be alarmed about. However, if you begin to notice substantial shedding or discoloration of the outer needles, that could be a sign that your tree is suffering from a deficiency or pest problem that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Alex MungoAlex is a professional writer with a keen interest in gardening. He currently contributes written articles to various gardening websites such as Carpenters Nursery & Farm Shop.