Gardening with Children

Family Zone

Growing Fruit and Vegetables in Bags

Date Posted: 01 April 2012

Working at the Recycleworks for me is like being a child in a sweet shop I am surrounded by brilliant Gardening and Grow your own products with new ones being added all the time. One of my favourite and great value products at the moment are our Growing Bags they are flexible, re-usable and although perfect for potatoes can be planted up with practically any vegetable and are available in two sizes 40 litre and 69 litre. These bags are perfect if you have limited space and are ideal for patios, school gardens and even on balconies with their strong handles making them easy to move. As your crops are contained or raised above the ground they give extra protection from slugs. At the moment our growing bags are available as planting kits of Rhubarb, Asparagus and Potatoes and now is the perfect time to get them started.
 
Rhubarb Timperley Early
 
Rhubarb  Vegetable of the Month – February
 
Rhubarb Growing Kits can be planted up now.
Fill the growing bag with a good quality Compost and mix into it well rotted Farmyard Manure. Plant the crown about 3cm below the surface and water in well. Place the bags in a sunny spot watering the Rhubarb regularly especially during the summer and any dry periods. On cold nights cover the bag with protective Fleece to prevent frost damage. Allow new plants to become established for the first year before harvesting any stems. Remove any flower heads as they appear in spring these can be put in the Compost Bin. In April, after the leaves have unfurled, Rhubarb can be harvested but only a few stems at a time should be removed. Rhubarb can be forced for an earlier crop, in January cover the crown with a light proof container and the forced sticks should be ready to harvest in about 6 weeks. Rhubarb should only be forced every two years so if you prefer forced rhubarb have two or more plants so you can alternate them. To harvest hold the stalk close to the ground and pull upwards with a twisting motion don’t remove any stalks later than July. During summer feed the plants with a liquid or general-purpose fertilizer. In Autumn remove any old leaves and mulch with well rotted Farmyard Manure.
Caution: Rhubarb leaves are poisonous – dispose of them in the Compost Bin.
Rhubarb is best picked when needed but can be put in the fridge salad drawer in a plastic bag, throw away once the stalks are too limp to snap.
 
Suitable Rhubarb varieties include:
‘Timperley Early’ which is ideal for forcing or can be grown unforced. This variety produces a moderate yield of thin pink stems streaked with apple green.
‘Raspberry Red’ a recent Rhubarb cultivar producing high quality deep red thick stalks without the need for forcing. It is a relatively early cropper and has a deliciously sweet flavour.
 
Asparagus Growing Kits
 
Asparagus  Vegetable of the Month – March
 
Asparagus Growing Kits can be planted up now.
Fresh Asparagus can be expensive to buy, but it is easy to grow and although you have to wait at least a year before the plant is established it will pay dividends.
The Asparagus crowns should be planted as soon as possible once received. Fill each growing bag with a mixture of good quality Compost and well rotted Farmyard Manure. Plant the two or three crowns supplied into each bag to about 3cm below the surface, firm in and water in well. Place the bags in a sunny, sheltered spot watering regularly especially during the summer and any dry periods. On cold nights cover the bag with protective Fleece to prevent frost damage. Allow new plants to become established for the first year before harvesting any spears, leave any to grow into the ferny foliage. In autumn remove any old leaves and mulch with well rotted Farmyard Manure. In March feed with a general purpose fertilizer. Only a few spears may be harvested in April/May during the second year when they reach about 15cm tall, by the third year the crop can all be harvested but stop cutting before June to allow the spears to become foliage which then feeds the plants and helps produce spears the following year. To harvest slice through the spears with a sharp knife just below ground level making sure not to damage the crown or the roots. Once harvested ideally use the spears straight away or put in the fridge salad drawer in a plastic bag or stand on the windowsill in water for a few days.
 
Suitable Asparagus varieties include:
Cannova’s colossal:  Most popular! Bright green. High Yield
Gijnlim - Fi Hybrid:  Very early variety, producing lots of delicious green spears.
 
Potato Growing Kits
 
Potatoes
 
Potatoes are the original ‘grow in a bag’ vegetable and now is the ideal time to get started, don’t leave it too late as suppliers will soon be getting low on stock. Once you get your ‘seed’ potatoes put them into egg trays/boxes with the ‘rose’ end upwards this is where you might see tiny shoots or the ‘belly button’ end facing downwards and place them in a frost-free light (not sunny) room. This is called chitting and helps the potato to produce strong buds which speeds up growing once they are planted. When the shoots are about 2-3cm they are ready to plant. Half fill the growing bag with good quality Compost and plant your seed potatoes, ideally four or five so they don’t touch each other or the sides of the bag at a depth of 10cm and water well, as the leaves emerge cover with more Compost and repeat until you reach the top of the bag.  Position the bag somewhere sunny and sheltered and on cold nights cover the bag with protective Fleece to prevent frost damage. Potatoes need to be kept well watered but not soggy. As a guide potatoes are ready to harvest after they have finished flowering. A handy gadget to have is a Potato Harvesting Scoop this makes harvesting potatoes easy and without damaging them.
 
Potato Harvesting Scoop
 
Why not have a classroom challenge or a family potato growing competition?
Our mini PolyPot Growing Bags are ideal, a smaller version of our growing bags they can accommodate 2 seed potatoes and are perfect if you have lots of keen gardeners.
 
PolyPot Grow Bags
 
At The Recycleworks we have some of the traditional varieties of Seed Potatoes as well as something a little different e.g. Blue Belle with its ‘blue’ eyes
 
1st Earlies
Ulster Prince.  White (Boiling/Baking/Salad)
Lord Rusebury.  Red, good blight resistance  (Boiling/Mashing/Baking)

2nd Earlies
Kestrel.  Cream with purple eyes  (Boiling/Mashing/Baking/Chipping/Roasting)

Maincrop
Blue Belle.  Cream with blue eyes  (Boiling/Mashing/Baking)
The Bishop.  White  (Boiling/Chips/Roasting)

 

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