Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Potato harvest: a success even in the coldest summer in decades!

I was recently on holidays and I haven't posted in a month. We were visiting several permaculture projects, visits of which will be the subject of future posts.

Now it's harvest time in Iceland!

And it has been the coldest summer, some say, since 60 years.

Others said that this has ranked the 4th worst summer in 100 years, with a mere 9 days of summer afternoons, compared to the average 40 days of recent warm summers. These are days of sunny weather and daily temperatures above 15ºC. Of course most of this summer was around a chilly 10ºC, and endless rain.

Potato time!

The potatoes were sown in mid May and harvest now in mid September (4 months of growing season). Yesterday I got a hard frost so this means its time to start to harvest them, before the ground freezes.

And it is a success!! In a small 1m2 square, I harvested 1.5 Kg, which is reasonable for about 5 meals (of 300g each). This means I have a yield of about 15 ton/ha, which is superior of that in Russia and Ukraine, and similar to that of the conventional production in Portugal, but still 3 less below that of Germany or the UK. But its organic potato, grown in Iceland, in the worst summer of many decades.

No compost was added to the field. I just added a thick mulch of lupins and cut grass. But the bed has kitchen compost added the year before. The seed potato was a store bought local variety.

I still have a larger field of potatoes to harvest - in the backyard of the house  - which should give me 9 Kg extra of potatoes (the total would be enough for 35 meals, or about 2 months if I eat potatoes every other day!!!

Note: top yields of organic potato production are around 25 ton/ha, which is 1.6x superior to ours, but we were growing under much more extreme weather and without any sort of external inputs (like manure, fish meal..)

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