Every year, since 2005, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have run a project which encourages primary schools to grow potatoes. This year St Helena’s registered with the project and in February we took delivery of four potato growing kits. Each kit comes with two varieties of seed potato, two potato grow bags, a growing timetable and the cardboard box transforms into a chitting station.
And this is how it works!
- The postman delivers the kits during February and all participating schools set their seed potatoes to chit on the same day, using the cleverly designed cardboard box the kits arrived in. Chitting describes the process of putting seed potatoes in a cool light place to sprout, giving the potatoes a head start.
- Each kit has two varieties of potato: Rocket which every school taking part grows; and a regional variety specific to schools in a certain area. Our regional variety is ‘Piccolo Star’. There are 4 Rocket potatoes (3 to plant in one of the bags and one to plant into a clear 2 litre plastic bottle) and 3 of the regional variety.
- Each school plants the potatoes into the bags on the same day and then looks after and cares for the potatoes until harvest day. Each school has to harvest their potatoes on the same day and then, if you want to, you can weigh each variety and enter the total weight of each, onto the GYOP website for a chance to win prizes for the school.
We have a set of potatoes for each class and as well as the national competition, we will also be weighing, counting and measuring for a friendly school contest.
The potatoes were due to be planted out last week but we felt that it was still a little too cold and chose to delay the planting by a week. Today representatives from each class, with the help of Paul Czartowski and Mrs Storey, spent their lunchtime planting the nicely chitted tubers into the potato grow bags. The bags containing the regional variety were labelled with the class name and variety and the bag containing the Rocket tubers for each class was placed beside the labelled bags. Paul then covered the bags with fleece to help keep them warm.
We will keep you informed on the progress of our potatoes.