Harvesting Potatoes

With Andrew still out of play with his back it was down to me and Little D over the Bank Holiday weekend to take advantage of the summer sun. I must admit that up to recently, Andrew did the lion's share of the gardening and I did most of the preserving; this isn't a gender stereotype thing, I have always loved cooking and messing around with ingredients to bring something new to the table or larder. I have to admit though after starting to cut the hedges I have really enjoyed my time in the garden and have plans for areas of it -- Andrew doesn't know yet but I am sure we can come to an arrangement. The same can't be said for Little D who has developed the patience of a flea. Are we going in yet? No. Have you finished yet? Go get a book and sit down in the shade. It's too hot for me out here. Go get a book and sit in the flipping shade. I don't say that but I am sure I am not the only Mum to ever think that, and not to think of it using the word, flipping. Little D soon realises that digging up spuds can be fun, except for the rotten spuds and we have a few of them thanks to all the rain and blight.

Harvesting potatoes

Andrew wants me to point out here that we never earthed up the potatoes, his back was too bad, the weather was awful and there simply wasn't enough hours in the day - all sound like excuses but he's laid on the floor at the moment so I can kick him for you. It is the best crop we've had though since 2014, when we tried to grow spuds in tyres. That experiment failed last year thanks to rather bad compost from the council, we assumed blight had hit us, the truth was the compost was poor and we shouldn't have used it -- all the roots rotted. It was as if the compost held on to all the moisture at its core but Andrew thinks more than likely it was contaminated. We've had blight before, back in 2012 we had a lovely mix of black leg and blight, and it's back this year with our so called blight resistant spuds.

Blight resistant potatoes at Pig Row

It hit the Vale Sovereign hard, and for every good five potatoes I find, Little D finds one mushy blight spud; after awhile this game of hunting for cooking gold wears off and he abandons me to go behind the camera with Andrew. He has designs on Andrew's chair. They they then become back seat gardeners, telling me that I am in danger of piercing the potatoes, I do this because they're nagging and they are to blame. So they shut up and Little D goes back to saying that he's too hot. I mutter but smile.

Gardening with impatient children

Harvesting with children at Pig Row

After an hour, and the discovery that we have pounds of runner beans for the first time in years, waiting to be harvested - honestly, the garden has been a little neglected this summer due to Andrew's back, and plants that have failed us in the past seem to be supporting Andrew through some of his lowest moments, as if to say, Cheer up, mate. We're growing for you this year. Get better so we can bugger you around some more. We're going to pickle the beans for Christmas - sorry, but we think ahead and we want them for our Winter larder. We have enough runner beans coming in from my parents to fill our plates over summer. So, after an hour, using muscles I never knew I had, getting annoyed at the back seat gardeners, we have pounds of spuds, weights we haven't seen for a few years and even the blighted Vale Sovereign puts on a good show.

Harvest 2017

We have 20 1/2 lbs (around 10kg) of Vale Sovereign - this isn't as much as when we grew in tyres but let's face facts, Andrew and I didn't earth them up, the row is around eight feet long, the smallest amount of spuds we have grown in a long time -- even the Wartime Garden recommended a greater length of spuds than this. It's not bad going when you think an average family of four will eat between 3-5lbs of potatoes a week. That means in this filling trug we have around 5 weeks of potatoes. That on average saves us around £3-4 a week, depending on where you shop. It all counts, we'll tell you why soon.

Growing food to save money

The Sarpo Mira, which is blight resistant, it was literally next to the Vale Sovereign, which also claims to have some blight resistance, didn't succumb to the blight. The amount harvested here was smaller, at just over 14lbs (around 7kg). Again that's around 3-4 weeks of spuds. That means we have enough potatoes for 9 weeks if we eat them every week. That's not taking into account the potatoes we harvested in the herb garden with Little D. We reckon we have around three months of spuds to eat. So, at 12 weeks that's a potential saving of nearly £50 (around $65 or 55 Euros - this can change at present, so stay tuned for more Brexit fun). 

Harvest 2017 at Pig Row

We leave them to dry on the beds and bring them in later that day. I spend thirty minutes going through them, picking out ones that have been speared by the potato fork, these we'll eat first and we do that evening with steak to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The rest I brush any damp soil off and leave over night on newspaper on the kitchen floor. It takes me around ten minutes to put them in the potato hopper in the morning. I have spent from plot to plate a mere one hour and forty minutes, going to the shops can take longer than that around here and a may have got a tan.

From plot to plate


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