Tag Archives: pink fir apple

Aloos, Onions (and 32)

The day after a birthday is never good. 32, incidently. I didn’t mind 30 or 31. This one just feels different; as there is a checklist as to what I should have achieved by this point. If my life was to be measured by the Disney Scale of loveliness (and general bollywood standards of doing what you are supposed in relation to cultural normals and behaviours), I am failing on not having two kids and a significant other. So trying not be to be a grumpy sour puss old woman today, and reflecting-on balance-on what I have done so far.

It snowed this morning. I actually leapt out of bed having been informed of that fact by my sister, and pulled back the curtains. I swore. The plan was to sink the last of spuds and some experimental onion sets. This did not bode well, there had been little time for the allotment to dry out this week. Given how it is the middle of April, I should know better than to discount April Showers.

Thankfully, the snow subsided. There had been big fluffy flakes of snow falling onto the garden like feathers. Somewhat unexpected, though friends in the northern climbs had already been bracing for impact. Plus I had some how avoided watching the weather.

This meant that normal service could be resumed. Having filled raised beds earlier this week,  the final lot of potatoes could be sunk. The last remaining bag was of Pink Fir Apple. These have already been split with Mum, who has sunk some in the open ground of her newly acquired half plot. I guess we can do something of an experiment. We can observe the possible differences in raised beds and open ground. Whilst her plot has rather friable soil, mine is heavy, sticky clay. For this reason, I have learned to not plant my potatoes in open ground.

You can see the youtube version here.

The other thing to do was to sink onions. I haven’t done this for a long time, as I don’t tend to garner much success with the sets. I have previously sown sets in autumn and in spring, with the resultant crop being quite small. There was definite poor results with red onions, so I have always been a bit wary. However, as Mum was intent on sowing onions and asked for me to find some; I don’t mind another go.

You can see the youtube version here.

As for 32. I don’t really want to dwell on it; but it will take time to let go. The bullish amongst us will naturally just shrug their shoulders and say that it is just a number. That is true, the next one is 33 and doesn’t-at this stage-look or feel scary.  I think I looked at it yesterday morning as being half way to my pension (it’s not worth a lot, unfortunately). Then again, that age changes with the frequency of an elected government.

I could, sit here and tot up a list of done, outstanding yet to do, and might possibly like to do. I would be there a long time, I am likely to depress myself and get angry about it. The outstanding yet to do section is the sort of  column dictated by the old school Bollywood aunties and the edict would be:: ahem:: get married, have babies, do the Disney Princess thing. In part, I am exaggerating, in part, it really is  ‘what is wrong with you,(there must be something wrong with you at this point) you should be doing X, Y and Zed, you’re not getting any younger’… see, it’s infuriating, but stupidly true. (I’d quite like to walk 100m of the great wall of China, and see the vatican, but you know…)

Anyway, the spuds are planted. There are squashes to be sown.

We’ll get there.

 

 

#NABLOPOMO mashed, chipped, roasted and boiled

That is what happened to the assortment of potatoes that the allotment plot yielded this year.

There were a number of varieties that sunk on the plot, in the raised beds. We had international kidney, lady balfour, pink fir apple, kestral and red duke of york. The red duke of york were a bit hit and miss having been sunk into the earth in the poly tunnel by way of experiment. I don’t think I will be doing that again.

All the other varieties were sunk into raised beds. These were filled with either leaf mold topped off with multipurpose compost or well rotted and very crumbly farmyard manure. I did this as drainage is an issue with the heavy clay on the plot. In the past, heavy clay has basically eaten the seed potatoes in having caused them to rot due to excess water retention. With raised beds, the drainage is some what improved, and the seed potatoes like sleeping under nice organic material.

Internatioal kidney were cute and bountiful, lots of small round, creamy white potatoes. Pink Fir apple had to be the most abundant, with pounds and pounds being harvested. On average, we harvested one 10kg bucket every week. About four or five harvests were made over the duration of the harvesting period. As you can imagine that is a lot of potatoes. That was even before the lady balfour potatoes were harvested. These, thanks to the farmyard manure, were something of a whopper crop. I have grown these before, but have never harvested potatoes that half the size of a football.

All of these really were mashed, chipped, roasted and boiled. Not to mention put into stuffed chappatis. And the varieties matter. Pink fir apples do go well into stuffed chappatis. Lady balfour make for interesting, sweet flavoured chips. They do also tend to get a bit sloppy when mashed, but do hold together when roasted.

I have never found potatoes to be simple, though for many allotmenteers they are. I was gutted one year when the heavy clay caused them to rot. I learned that they needed soft friable soil. Even then, I don’t earth them as is done traditionally.

The humble spud, seemingly simple; can actually be complicated.

Potatoes, peppers and prepping Apples

Potatos and prep were the key words this week. As mentioned previously, we have had an abundance of Pink Fir Apple potatoes. This week we harvested the last batch. These have been by far the most productive potato that I have ever managed to grow. My potato growing adventures have not been without incident. so to have such nice good quality potatoes from the plot is something of a surprise. All of the spuds this year were in raised beds, and either in compost or farmyard manure. This does appear to have paid dividends.

In the poly tunnel, we have a mass of six foot triffids. Would you believe, that whilst I was away, Ma harvested a red tomato. Yes, I was upset too. You can also see her picking glads, some of which were as tall as her.

Grapes are on the turn, and whilst there is not many of them this year, they are rather sweet. The autumn raspberry cane has kicked off with lovely large fruit, whereas the blackberries are still somewhat thin amongst the boughs.

Ma has taken up the cabbages, as she was about to declare war on the critters that were nibbling on them. She has shredded them and frozen for winter saag dishes.

Then came the apples. Having spend ages chopping, coring and peeling. I have found a new gadget! This was tested in the falstaff apples, the worcester pearmain are too small as are the home grown concorde pears. if only I had thought of this two weeks ago! Would have saved me six hours of work!

Spirit infusion and Spuds

After a month in the dark, the spirit infusions were ready to decant. These infusions involve home grown raspberries and gooseberries. The raspberries broke down and produced  a lovely bright pink infusion. The gooseberries were still quite firm, and hadn’t broken down so much. Both however produced a decent level of end product. Both had been made with 70 cl of spirit. I managed to get 2x 250 bottles from each kilner jar, so I am pretty happy. The gooseberry infusion is rather like drinking a spiced curry.

There there were spuds. Above you see a 10kg bucket of pink fir apple potatoes. This is the first time I sown and grown this variety, and I have to say that I am rather impressed. We managed to get just under 10kg from half a 1mx2m bed. There is still that half a bed and another 1mx1m bed left to harvest. These a beautifully odd shaped potato, and we did get a few, ahem, rude shaped ones. I had to warn my mum in advanced.

Those were okay, then came these.

image1

They look a bit scabby. I forget now, what these are now. Perhaps lady balfour or interntional kidney. I think they have been left in the soil a little bit too long. They will be okay, after heavy peeling. I refuse to say that growing things is always going to be rainbows and butterflies. It won’t be.

#NABLOPOMO: Spud Sinking Saturday 2015

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.

Red Duke of york coming through with a pernicious weed
Red Duke of york coming through with a pernicious weed

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.

The plot, the poly and potatoes

plot

I was going to play on the plot today. If only for a brief spell. What I really wanted to do, was sink potatoes. Yes, already.

I have had fairly dire success when it comes to potatoes. What for others might be a fairly straight forward thing to do, for me, is a challenge. There has been some limited success growing potatoes in raised beds, and that is what I will in a couple of months time. I don’t really want to dig trenches again into the clay. I did that last year, and the seed potatoes were basically eaten by the clay. What could have been a beautiful bountiful crop, was in fact diddly squat of not a lot really. Very few spuds actually came out, and I had planted quite a few. Was rather demoralising really. I don’t particularly want to feel that way again. Last year was the first time for a number of the varieties that I am trying this year.

This year, the spud list is as follows:

  • Red duke of York-first earlies
  • Kestral-second earlies
  • Lady balfour-Main crop
  • Pink fir apple-salad variety
  • International kidney-salad variety

What I have done today, could possibly end with disappointment, as I have set about doing an experiment. I toddled off to the plot, with a bulb planter, a transplanting trowel and a bag of red duke of york seed potatoes. I went into the poly tunnel. The soil in there has already been tidied up and even had poop put into it. It is still horrible clay though, like the rest of the plot. Then over the next hour, I sunk the seed potatoes. I started off with the bulb planter, but didn’t like it, and so the transplanter trowel dug slots for the spuds. Each seed was then popped in. and covered over with the dirt that had been dug over. This is the first time that I have sunk seed spuds undercover, and therein it’s an experiment. It is also rather early. Most people have probably only received their potato orders and are likely to be now chitting their spuds in preparation. There is fleece on hand, to cover the shoots as they come through. I realise that there is a huge gamble when we are still experiencing frosts and will do so, til the end of may. By that time, the spuds should be up and out. Leading to tomatoes and chillies being planted into the poly. I didn’t fancy having an empty poly tunnel for such a long time.

Previously, I have sown kestral and lady, not too bad. Both were okay variety, particularly in light of my spud growing naivete. International kidney got eaten by the clay last year and didn’t work. Pink Fir apple is new this year, as it is such a knobbly looking thing. What I need to reflect upon closely, is where all the potatoes are going to go, and how. I really don’t want to sink into the clay, as that is a short way to write everything off.

Beyond the potatoes, I took this opportunity to walk around and tidy up the raised beds. Three of them, require topping up with MPC. They currently contain leaf mold. These, I suspect will be used to grow potatoes. There are other beds, that would also benefit from topping up, have sunk quite a bit. I can start to work out now, what is going to go where. Mum is going to need a raised bed or two for spinach and fenugreek. Space where running beans and climbing beans might go, is currently covered in black plastic. I don’t want the clay to get even more wetter and stickier. The vast majority of the raspberry canes that were sunk before Christmas do appear to have rooted and remain plugged in. No sign of growth yet on them, though. With the fruit trees, the braeburn apple, falstaff and worcester pearmain have started to form buds. The rochester peach less so. The peach is on persica rootstock. I have done some research about the concorde pear, and it appears that another one near by would improve things. At the moment, I’m not sure there is one near by, and so might reflect on finding another to sink on the plot. The pear treee that I have, has never ever fruited. Even the victoria plum has fruited once upon a time. There are huge great big plum trees dotted on the site, I like to think that may have an effect.