It’s been showers and sunshine all week – damp and humid and the potato blight has swept in as it does. Suddenly plants are blotchy, black and withering. It’s been a case of removing the tops to prevent spores going down to the tubers, and hoping we are in good time. Some varieties are faring better than others. Mayan gold – for no apparent reason – are holding up well. The Sarpo Mira – bred to be blight resistant – are so far unaffected. (I can’t help thinking that for all the snooty remarks about the gastronomic qualities of the Sarpo spuds, if they were being grown in Ireland in the 1840’s, there wouldn’t have been that enormous human tragedy.) We shall stick by them. We can keep our own seed potatoes to grow next year … again.
So today, after another close check, the Cara have to come off. There are a lot of maincrop potatoes to lift in a couple of weeks!
We are in the last week of the school Summer holidays, so we need child-friendly tasks to entertain the blatant young cake-seekers. The heritage semi-wild yellow cherry tomatoes were planted as companions to the new gooseberries. Just now there’s no sign of gooseberry bushes – swamped by rampant tomatoes. It seems like a good idea to trim them back to the fruit to give it all a chance to ripen. So armed with secateurs, the kids go at it. They have soon filled a wheelbarrow and there’s not too much collateral damage – and we have found enough ripe yellow cherry tomatoes to satisfy.
Then it’s time to dig up the second early potatoes we topped two weeks ago – Kestrel, British Queen, Orla (seemingly a slug’s favourite) and Linda (new to us and a stunningly heavy cropper). The youngsters get a bit sidetracked by worms and a determined attempt to dig through the earth’s mantle (about 18 inches before fatigue sets in). A fill-a-bucket-with-docks challenge keeps them going a bit longer before tea and cake and bizarre conversation (meet Peter Potato and his girl friend).
Lifting potatoes takes the rest of the day – sorting them and drying them in the polytunnel as the rain showers get more frequent and heavier. The children have disappeared in a bit of a sugar-rush, but it’s great to have them involved at all.
It’s really all about potatoes at the moment. They are cropping so heavily this year – and so far very cleanly with little slug damage – that I’m not sure how we are going to eat them all. We certainly won’t need to be importing many exotic carbohydrates – and there could be some interesting and exciting culinary potato adventures to be enjoyed!
Now it’s September. It’s definitely Autumnal. And there is that mellow fruitfulness to be relished as we end the day with a crateful of carrots, spinach, scallions, beetroot and kohl rabi to be prepared for dinner.
Tuesdays in the Triangle Field (Community Supported Market Garden) are busy, sociable, friendly, relaxed, productive. Volunteers are made welcome, fed, watered and rewarded with produce. Let us know if you would like to join us either regularly, occasionally or just for a one-off pleasure.
Tel. 01743 761418 email: firstname.lastname@example.org