Spud Dispute

We barely made it to the plot at all in March but just as the month was turning, the sun arrived. We grabbed our seed potatoes and ran to the plot clutching a days supply of delicately cut sandwiches and flasks of hot drinks.

Four hours later, stripped to our t-shirts, we would have happily discarded the flasks in favour of a few tinnies.

We worked ferociously planting spuds and sowing seeds. Lynn would of course argue that she worked the hardest as she planted 7 rows of spuds while I weeded the seed bed and prepared some labels with my Brother P Touch – pah!

Weeding that seed bed was the devils own job. We’d planted onions, lettuce and assorted brassicas under the glazed area some weeks back but pretty much the only thing that had germinated was a field of weeds. After half an hour of dabbling around with a tweezer to uncover 1 lettuce and 3 brassica seedlings it occurred to me that it would be a far better idea to blitz the lot with a hoe and start again.

Our potato planting led to some interesting debates. I’m relying on C. H. Middleton with his Dig for Victory advice from 1945, topped up with a modern infusion from Joy Larkcom, while Lynn is regularly in contact with her Dad – a potato farmer by profession.

I’m a big fan of books and so would usually disregard 50 years of practical experience for something that could be gleaned by a quick scan from the comfort of a bath. We opted for the Dig your Own method: 1/2 spade depth furrow, place in spud and then cover with soil and a sprinkling of manure. No earthing up until the foliage starts to poke through.

The experienced voice tells us to dig a trench, place in manure with spuds on top and then earth up enough to allow the rain to run off and prevent rotting. I know it sounds sensible and was in fact my method of old, but its hard work and in clay, I’m all for short cuts. I do hope the buggers don’t rot though, I’ll never hear the end of it.

We have set ourselves a challenge to excel at two crops this year – peas and leeks. Of course we want all our crops to be prizewinners but these two have proved to be challenging in the past.

I wouldn’t waste time with the autumn sown peas – horrible dry things, but I think a hot day at the end of March might be perfect for the sweet summer variety. We prepared two drills and I started laying out the seeds in a perfect arrangement – square layout with a centre pea, then had a flashback to last years germination rate and walked back along my row scattering the rest of the packet.

Here’s Lynn proudly constructing the mesh cloche over the sowings.

We also had time to set the uber cheap summer bulbs (care of Lidl) by the rhubarb patch and get in a few rows of carrots and parsnips. I’ve gone mad with carrots again, so along with the standard Nantes varieties I’ve got some Red Samurai and Purple Haze, so with my usual carrot success rate these are all set to be mighty expensive tubers again.

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