raspberryfool: (Gardening)
It feels like a very short time since I dug the trenches and covered those egg-sized tubers with sun-warmed earth and hoped the emerging shoots wouldn't get frozen by a sneaky May frost. The wheel turns, and today, the first day after the full Harvest Moon, was potato harvesting day. I'd actually harvested some tubers last month because their foliage had died, but most of them remained under the good soil. Potaoes are supposed to store well when harvested under a waning moon, and today just about counts. So I dug deeply into the best soil in the garden, and revealed those beautiful white tubers. The Estima had actually performed very well. A lot were tiny but a reasonable proportion were lovely mashers and bakers.

Because it's a 'second early' variety, 'Estima' matures around late July to mid-August, meaning it will mostly escape the potato-growers' number one enemy, Phytophthora infestans, or Potato Late Blight, to you and me. Blight can be devastating and it caused the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840's, so the dry summer has really done spud growers a favour. Blight also infects tomato plants, and mine are just a few feet away from the 'Midsummer' patch, which is another good reason for harvesting early.

The total haul, which I had to measure on the bathroom scales, is around 24 lbs of top spuds - not bad for £1.99 and a little effort! I lit a post-harvest bonfire to clear away the garden rubbish, cleanse the ground and make some fertile ash to spread around the garden.

Thank you, Mother Earth, for your bounty; and thank you, Father Sun, for your light and warmth. Happy Harvest all!
raspberryfool: (Default)
And so, an update! I'm getting really slack at updating my LJ, but there's not been a great deal to write about. Garden activity is gearing up though, so here's what's going on in my back paddock...

I've been digging out dandelions again, the things just get everywhere. They spread in on the wind from the neighbouring gardens which are infested with them. Simply ripping the heads off isn't enough, and digging the roots out of the grass often ends with half a root in my hand. The smaller ones come out easily though, and I'm hoping this is enough to keep their numbers in check.

A few weeks ago I cleared the strawberry beds of weeds, as far as I could. There seems to be more grass, primrose and violets than strawberry plants these days, something which I'll have to fix. The primroses can stay though - they do look lovely at this time of year.

I bought some seed potatoes, can't remember the variety but they're second earlies. They were pre-chitted (sprouted) and were half-price. I've planted them in the 'Midsummer' patch, where i grew tomatoes last year. I also found a handful of 'volunteers' in last year's potato patch, which will be beans and leeks this year, so I dug them out and moved them to the small patch that I was planning to grass over.

Inside, I've planted leeks, pumpkin, butternut squash, marrow and tomato. The tomato seeds have mostly germinated and are looking good, including the one that germinated last November. the latter is now two feet tall and ready to plant out. Unfortunately, the weather won't be ready for another month! Today I'll be planting French beans. I use old plastic meat trays, which are ideal for germinating a large quantity of seeds in a small quantity of compost.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to evict an errant wasp from my bedroom. Zzzzzzz...
raspberryfool: (Decorating)
I dug into the second row of March-planted Maris Piper potatoes today. I was hoping they'd be bigger than the ones I unearthed a few weeks ago, and surely I wasn't disappointed. But I wasn't that impressed either; they are consistently the size of, and slightly bigger than, hens' eggs. But the haulms died off a few weeks back, and I removed the remaining stalks, leaving just a little above the soil so I'd know where to dig, to ensure they didn't get blighted. I've read somewhere that tubers can increase in size even though the haulm is gone. The author was obviously lying!

I still have some surviving May-planted plants, whicvh I'll leave until late September before a trial-dig. My 'volunteers' in another bed are looking a picture of health; the dry summer has obviously knocked the blight for six as these, and my tomato plants, are blight-free and lovely. I wonder how long that state of affairs will last.

Meanwhile I've been raking moss from the back lawn again; this time I've sown fresh grass seed to replenish a small area. I expect every starling for miles will drop in for a free feed!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
I'm bored, sitting in front of the computer instead of doing something practical - and we all know where that leads, don't we? My achievement for today has been to sort out my tomato plants.

I've now moved the largest 'Black Cherry' plants outside the house to harden off. This may seem premature considering the current cold weather, but they'll sit in the passageway behind the garden door for a while. No frost can reach them there, and hopefully they won't crave the warmth of my bedroom windowsill for too long. Likewise, The Clone, a 30" long 'Gardeners' Delight' plant I grew from a cutting taken last November when blight and cold were looming fast, is almost within site of its eventual home. Its flowers evoke the promise of early tomatoes. But I don't always trust promises!

The 'Gold Medal' are doing really well, with most ready to join the 'Black Cherry'. Some 'Lettuce Leaf' have grown considerably and won't be far behind. But oh dear - the 'Gardeners' Delight' are way, way behind in the growth stakes. I've seperated most of these into their own pots, where hopefully they'll get their roots down. If you wonder what to do with your stragglers, or are tempted to consign them to the compost heap - don't worry. You can keep them indoors for a whole year. They'll become very leggy over the winter, but will pick up nicely when the sun climbs higher. You may even get the chance to clone these lanky plants by layering them in another pot.

Four of the pumpkin seeds I planted last week have germinated and look strong and healthy. There's no sign of the rest though, or of the butternut squash.

The 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' beans now have their first leaves and are ready for planting out. I'm not certain whether this variety is frost-hardy so i'm going to play it safe and wait until the end of the month. I will, however, be planting out the geraniums this weekend; I know they can stand a little frost and the front garden is sheltered enough for them not to suffer too much.

My potato plants in 'strawberry' caught a frost the other night, and have black leaves where it settled on them. I've earthed them up to cover the stems and lower leaves, and hopefully this will keep further frost damage at bay. Those in the 'mint' plot didn't frost, which is unusual. Perhaps the neighbour's fence provided them with a little more shelter.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
My new potato seeds went in today; between showers of rain I squelched through the grass and dug into the sticky clay of the 'mint' patch. Between the rows of emerging garlic went the previously mentioned 12 'Charlotte' potatoes that had chitted and five anonymous survivors of last year's late crop. I hope this year's harvest will be an improvement upon the pea-sized tubers of last year. Also discovered were a couple of garlic bulbs I'd forgotten last summer which had germinated and were sprouting; I moved them to the 'mint' patch. I plan to harvest both garlic and spuds together around the end of June.

So I plodded to town and bought my maincrop seed potatoes and this year I chose 'Maris Piper','a good all-rounder' says the blurb. I don';t know whether I'll plant 6.5 lb though, so i might enjoy the rest with butter or plant them in the extended 'Midsummer' patch (don't ask!). Unfortunately Wilkinson don't stock smaller packs of seed potaoes save the 'five tubers for 98p (19s 7.2d) packs and I'm not paying garden centre prices.

Also obtained were two packs of sunflower seeds; one 'dwarf' variety and one tall variety and some nasturtium seeds. With these, I plan to brighten up the front garden and hopefully upset the cats. Apparently the latter is useful for biological control of squash and bean pests like aphids, so I may try that - I'll try almost anything once!