Kestrel and Lady Balfour potatoes have been sunk into raised beds. I still have to sink pink fir apple, once I have filled the other beds with ‘orse poop. I put the seed potatoes into raised beds as there is better drainage, less resistance for the forming tubers and previous experience has meant a big, quite successful crop. I’m not sure yet if there will be any international kidney this year on the plot.
There was also the opportunity to look at the young fruit trees that are planted on the plot. With the site being windy, they could do with some bracing support so that they don’t keel over. I did quick count, and found that I had quite a few fruit trees, I guess I don’t need to buy any more! In the picture above, you see the morello cherry tree. This one, along with the sylvia, moor park apricot, darling peach, pear du comice, czar and victoria plum were all tied to a stake sunk beside them.
With the exception of the Czar plum tree, all of the trees appear to be waking up and have buds forms on their boughs. I am not too sure about the Czar, as it has always been a little bit of a miserable looking tree. The plot most certainly has it’s own little micro-cosm that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the site; i think the peach is the only that is sending out pink fuzzy buds. Have been watching it closely and willing the bud to burst.
There are weeds cropping up all over the plot. There are also harvests to made too. I will be hoeing the weeds down soon. The harvests, though, have been good so far. Firstly, we have spuds. Potatoes/ Over the last four years I have variable harvests. From sinking into open ground to raised beds. I finally have a spud that I am proud of. Today, I have harvested probably about a couple of pounds of kestrel second early potatoes. The foliage had started to keel over, so I took this as a sign to harvest. I wasn’t so quietly impressed when digging over. I may have blasphemed a little bit; my mother who was in ear shot, exclaimed my name. Not at my blaspheming, but at the fact that I was handing over fairly nice looking potatoes.
A plot neighbour kindly donated some redcurrants that she was harvesting. These with the pounds of frozen strawberries already harvested went into a jam alongside some purple haze and cayenne chillies.
It does taste rather nice, and I don’t actually like strawberries that much.
I have been further monitoring the raspberry situation. To be honest, I am not in the least bit happy. Yes, these were planted in Autumn. A full season collection, I had thirty canes. Not all of these have foliage, and they are all very much still brown and sticky. Those that are leafy, have so far produced the grand sum of six-maybe-raspberries. All of the canes have rooted, I have done the tug test. They have definitely rooted.
On the other hand, I have ten fall gold yellow raspberry canes and two pink autumn bliss raspberries. The two autumn bliss ones are happy, having been cut back, and now fairly leafy and about to bear fruit. The yellow ones, have provided three yellow raspberries so far. This I can deal with.
With the distinct lack of pink summer raspberries, I am feeling a bit dejected. A lot like England crashing out on penalties. Penalties, can be practised.
Runner beans are shooting up their supports, and rapidly. So much so, I have spotted a cluster of red flowers. The climbing french beans however, don’t look so good and are still very small.
Finally. The spuds have been looking at me for some time. Calling at me, to be sunk on the plot. Today, is Good Friday, and I like other folks on the plot, were going to sink spuds today. Off I went, with compost-trundled along in the wheelbarrow-bags of seed spuds and hand tools. There were also some ear phones and maroon5’s V on shuffle. I was on a mission.
First thing first, I had to fill a few of the beds with MPC. Much of the soil that they had been filled with had sunk after last season’s growth. Also some of the beds had been filled with leaf mold, and this had to be topped off for this year.
This years varieties:
Red Duke of York: First earlies
Kestral: Second earlies
Lady Balfour: main crop
Pink Fir Apple: Salad
International Kidney: Salad
In February, I had sunk Red Duke of York potatoes in the poly tunnel. A tad early, yes, and with the clay that the poly is sat on; have taken a while to get through.
You have to squint a little, but you can see the red and green of the red duke of potato just starting to come through. I was starting to lose faith with these things, especially with the clay. Yes, I know there is a weed and algae. It does get warm in there, especially as Spring attempts to arrive. Will pass the hoe across to aerate the soil and get rid of the algae. Spotted a couple of shoots, but not many. Hopefully, a few more will come through before I put tomatoes and chillies in there.
Next time, I should perhaps scale down on the salad seed potatoes. I underestimated the amount of international kidney and pink fir apple seeds and also the space I had available to put them into. Will probably see those knobbly critters in my sleep. Plus, no one told me about the rather funny shapes and form that pink fir apple seeds take.
There is further experimentation, in that some of the raised beds contained soil topped off with leaf mold. The seeds potatoes were sunk deep into that soil, with the leaf mold already sitting on top. This was then topped off with MPC. Remains to be seen as to this will be a success or I will end up with scabby potatoes. Raised beds are the only way that I can cultivate any form of edible potato. Last years open ground experiment indicated that the heavy clay, wet weather and slug population were going to annihilate anything that was put into it.
Sinking potatoes has taken a chunk out of the number of raised beds being used this year. I have two that already occupied by garlic. I also have to keep one free for Ma’s fenugreek-She will not be best pleased, if she doesn’t have somewhere for her fenugreek. There are not four beds left, 1mx1m in size. Not an awful lot of room for all those squashes to be sown. There are however two other beds, open ground where I am plotting to have running beans. I have tried squashes in open ground and the results weren’t good.
Not really expecting a huge potato crop; due to rain annihilation. But there are a few flowering plants and also a handful of volunteer plants from last years potatoes. Still waiting on a few lady Balfour, king Edwards and Maris pipers that have survived.
Nearly at the end of the potato planting job. I think I might go slightly loopy if I see any more seed potatoes. That said, there are 20 Maris Piper tubers that remain to be sunk.
There have been two different techniques used to sink the spuds. Firstly, traditional potato trenches dug, seed potatos sunk with mounds built on top. Now, I don’t like digging, and I can’t make the mounds. Second, seed potatoes have been sunk in the same as bulbs would be, with a bulb planter. No mean feat, all in all, with horrible heavy clay that makes both of these techniques incredibly difficult and painful,
I really don’t like digging trenches,
Now, why do i have green grass on the mounds that were actually formed. I’m going to have issues earthing up, that’s why, and I can’t make proper mounds. At least the grass will break down as organic matter, and then hopefully protect the developing halums. Grass has been heaped onto the mounds, and might even help level out the dips and divots too.
Kestrel, king edwards, international kidney, maris piper and red duke of york have now been sunk. I was starting to worry about how much space there was, but it might be okay. At least half the plot, in terms of open ground is concerned with potatoes. This is a sinking of spuds on a grand scale, much bigger volume than I have ever attempted. So this could be a fairly moderate success, or a complete, and abject failure.
With the ‘lotment plot currently squelchy and for the some part underwater, it is bitter sweet to have potatoes waiting in the wings. This week, the ‘lotment secretary kindly popped around with some of the potatoes to be sunk this year. I had forgotten that I had also ordered King Edwards and Maris Piper from another source. In addition to this, I am expecting maris peer for later on in the year.
Selected for this year we have:
Red Duke of york
International Kidney-then name makes me laugh
and for Kismet….maris peer
For me, that looks like a lot of potatoes. And I don’t have that much space, digging is not my favourite task either. Last year, there were three raised beds of potatoes. This worked quite well, with spuds planted in poop. The issues that arose were slug damage, and that meant we lost out on proper potato fleshiness. This year, decisions will have to be made as to where the spuds are sunk with the bulb planter. As i say. digging, is not my favourite thing to do, especially with heavy clay. The options are open ground, carefully selecting where as some parts get more flooded than other. Or in raised beds, with leaf mold as the beds need re-filling.
At the moment, it is raining and its windy; so the worry is that thatt the plot may not necessarily be as dry as it should be by the time potatoes need to be sunk. The other issue, is to chit or not to chit. I have chitted once before, and the entire crop died a death due to the rain. Last year, the spuds were left in an a box and self chitted producing long tendril like sprouts. These were removed before the spuds were sunk. This year, I don;t think I will chit. I simply don’t have the room, ma would not be happy about spuds littering the house.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed about the rain get less and the ground drying out.
That’s Peace and Happiness, before you have to go translate it…
To the untrained eye, this looks a mess. However, if you were to ask me nicely; I could tell you what most things are and where. The gallery above, is a walking tour if you like of the half plot. I will try and get some specific bed pictures up. I appreciate that it looks like a great big green mess in the gallery. Today is the first day of the Summer holidays for me, so an opportunity to see what I need to do. It goes without saying, that weeds are a problem. This time last year, we had a deluge; and the weeds were well up to ankle height. As well as that, I didn’t have so filled raised beds. They are there now, and they contain crops.
Two more raised beds have, thanks to Pops, been constructed. I had scavenged last week, bags of garden waste. Sat on the plot for best part of a week, these were emptied today in the beds. I know that these are upside down, before you point it out! The pots are on the spikes, so that hopefully no one gets hurt. It is safe to say, that having raised beds has been a boon. Whilst the clay is fabulous, full of nutrients; the position of the plot means that the whole thing gets flooded. This brings pools of water, slugs and other things that eat crops. With the battle against the weeds. The areas of open ground where there are no raised beds, have been choked by weeds. The plan is to now pull up the weeds, cover with newspaper, and perhaps even black plastic on top of that. I have been avoiding that, thinking that raised beds are enough. At least the black plastic can be planted through, the newspaper and pulled up weeds can help the clay composition.
This is going to be one of the big battles. To be clear of as many weeds as possible, and cover the ground. With the beautiful weather that we have had, the clay is like concrete. There is now way a magic fork or spade is going to slice through it. It is just as bad, when it is winter.
As I sit here, the weather lady has just delivered her forecast. For the moment at least, the nice weather will remain. A bit of harvesting was done to today. A small amount of Florence Fennel. A crop, that I had forgotten that I sown. So was very surprised to the see the dill hovering amongst the leaves of the Astia Courgette right next to it. The Florence Fennel was sautéed with the Kestrel potatoes. Lovely looking first second earlies, with pink smudges that look like little faces.
In the wendy house, you will see the vast array of chillies and bells. We have in there a huge number. We have just to name a few, Nigels outdoor chilli, lemon drop, frauzauber, spanish mammoth red, early jalapeño, purple beauty and long red marconi to name a few. Those are the ones that were at least labelled. I think a few of them, have thrown a bit of a tantrum in the wendy, having moved from the classroom. They were perhaps not used to the different temperatures. As mentioned previously, we are having nice weather. A few of the chillies, have been a little burned, and perhaps are sulking because of that too. They are watered and fed regularly. I am still not convinced of treating them in a mean fashion. The resplendent purple rainbow chillis remain in the kitchen at home. There were seven of these altogether, only one of these is in the wendy.
Triffids rise again, on the plot. Not only are there squashes, but also sweetcorn and sunflowers. I had though that the sunburst sunflowers, were relatively small. Yet these are nearly as big as me. No quite giant, but bigger than I had expected. Very leafy, and yet to form any flowers. I do believe that the squashes may take over the universe. I have long expected and anticipated the leaves getting as big as dinner plates. In my experience, that is a good thing. That is happening, yes. Now, we are on flower and fruit watch. Already, we have had a few striato di napoli and astia already, in addition to two beautiful tennis ball sized summer ball. I have never sown a yellow courgette, so this was a lovely crop. Mama H and I are still at odds over the bush baby marrow. Resting on a brick, it is as big as it should be. Mama H wants me to wait for various dishes to have been eated, before I harvest it. If it explodes, it’s not my fault, all right.
Tomorrow is another day, and for the moment; it is summer.