20 May 2010


Hurrah! Our potatoes are coming through at long last. It was on April 12th when I planted twenty four seed potatoes of the Pentland Javelin variety - at the top of the garden in the vegetable plot that we have partially resurrected after several years of lying fallow. I'm talking about the land not the owners!

The seed potatoes were bought in mid-February and I had them "chitting" in a tray near the french doors. My little babies - pushing out stubby little shoots. Now those same shoots have grown, forcing their way through weather-baked clods of clayey soil to reach for the sun. All being well in a couple of weeks I will be earthing up these potato plants, making domed ridges in which new potatoes can form.

It's been really dry in Sheffield for the last couple of months - hardly any significant rain showers. Now that the plants are poking through, I think I will have to give them a good drink. The weather forecast for the rest of this week is super with temperatures rising to 25 degrees centigrade and more importantly for plants - mild night-times. About ten days ago the temperature dropped below freezing on three consecutive nights killing off my beautiful little courgette plants so I immediately had to sow a few more in indoor pots. I've also got broad beans on the go and plan to sow some dwarf beans in the next few days.

We planted ten raspberry canes and the five Glen Amples have budded and leafed nicely but the five Mallings are more moody. Two of these canes look as if they prefer death to life.

Speaking of death, I'm going to a funeral tomorrow. Alison. I reckon she was fifty nine. I met her through work in 1980 and though I never really "clicked" with her as true friends do, we frequently bumped into each other and politely passed the time of day. She was intelligent, a socialist, a teacher, a mother and a feminist with spirit and a zest for life.The last time I saw her was at the morning cinema screening of "A Prophet" back in February. What took her? It was a second appearance of skin cancer that this time invaded her brain. She died in our local hospice ten days ago. Mourners are asked to wear something red at the funeral but I don't think my plastic clown's nose on elastic would do. Perhaps a tie instead. Yes. A red tie to say goodbye.


  1. I just bought some food for my raspberry canes. This is the second attempt to grow them, and this time they're in raised beds with potted soil. It turns out that raspberries don't like wet feet or Seattle soil. Interesting. The blackberries have no problems with either, and are invasive. Good luck with your raspberries, potatoes and other plants.

    I'm sorry your friend/acquaintance died before her time.

  2. Well, I can just see you in that tie. Very nice. And a very pleasant ambling sort of post it was too. It must be especially good to have your low temperatures high enough for things to get going. So, pour on that water and get them 'drenched in nature's fecund blessing'. (as said by Mr Meyerburg in 'Cold Comfort Farm')

  3. What a coincidence that you and my cyberfriend Pat (An Arkansas Stamper) should simultaneously post about growing potatoes! Her post describes an alternate method you might want to look into using in your cramped quarters.

    I wasn't thinking about you when I used the phrase "high-yield vegetable gardens" in my 47th-anniversary post. I wasn't even aware that this particular post existed! (Lower Slobovia, however, may resemble Easter Island slightly, although I very much enjoy the words and photographs you post about any and all of your many trips to anywhere.)

    I believe that is enough sackcloth and ashes for one comment. I can backpedal for only so long....

  4. If I were the one who'd expired, I'd love to think you'd wear the red nose for me! Rhymes with Plague sent me a link to your blog, simply because I'd posted something about gardening today- alas, not your variety! :)

  5. I love gardening as much as anyone, but I have to wonder why anyone would spend time growing something that's so cheap in the store. Does a fresh, home-grown potato taste better than a store-bought one? Does it last longer? Can you enter it in an agricultural fair and win prizes? Why grow potatoes?

  6. JAN Fresh home-grown new potatoes are so different from those you can buy in stores. You just can't beat them. Also potato growing helps to break up the soil for next year's vegetables.


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