The foliage is dying back and the air is crisp, autumn is sneaking down our hillside and it can be seen in the hedges which are turning from deep green to russet brown.
The great thing about growing in tyres is the watering can be controlled, the feeding and even the blight/backleg can be controlled easier. Tyres also create some insulation for the spuds and the variety we plant, Isle of Jura, is less susceptible to wireworm attack in the tyres compared to open ground and the yields are much higher. So, all three of us, excited, bickering and talking to the neighbour over the hedge make our way to the tyres and start the slow process of excavating potatoes. For the digging up of potatoes comes with the same excitement as treasure hunting. Little D refers to it as a 'treasure hunt', he scrapes and dusts away the soil to reveal golden orbs in the dirt. There are cries of, 'There's another potato', 'It's by your foot, no the other foot', and, 'Look at the size of that'. Now the hedges are tall we wonder what our neighbour makes of all of this noise. We are a mish mash of overlapping voices and gesticulating arms as we hold up proudly potatoes bigger than our fists and smaller quips of spuds no bigger than our little fingernail. That is the gamble with potatoes. We actually bemoan when one tyre only gives us a harvest of half a trug -- that's not the floral trug in the above photo but a plastic five gallon trug. That's how much we have come to love not just the growing of potatoes but the harvesting of them and the talk that comes with it. Even the bickering is fun, 'Let me do it', 'No, it's my turn', 'Oooh you fibber'. We still wonder what our neighbour makes of this.
We spread them out on a fallow bed, allowing the sun to dry the earth on the potatoes but these spuds have come up clean and clear, no sign of blight or rot, not even much wireworm damage. The courgettes we spot whilst harvesting, mammoth todgers in the undergrowth -- we even refer to them as that and again, no wonder our neighbour looks at us weirdly -- have come off worse in open ground, the ends nibbled by hares. Which brings tears to our eyes. We'll have to net them next year or learn to eat hare. In the end we fill three large hessian sacks with spuds as the light wanes and Carol carts them down the hill, hurting her back -- a case of tight buttocks which she cries about from the lounge sofa but is coaxed back to life with promises of meat and potato pie and homemade red cabbage.