My Lucifer has flowered!
What a sentence to open with. I’m delighted because it’s one of my favourite plants and I didn’t know if it’d take to my allotment.
More importantly, today was the day to harvest the potatoes. I don’t really have many FAQs because nobody asks me about anything, but on at least one occasion I’ve heard people wondering how you know when potatoes are ready to harvest. Excitingly, the two main ways I can tell are illustrated in the varieties I grew this year (Cara and Ratte).
Here’s Ratte (a French variety that tastes delicious, I’ve grown it a couple of times before and it’s never let me down, I’d highly recommend it). You can see on the left there that the greenery has started yellowing and dying away, which is always a good sign that you can start harvesting. There’s no harm in leaving them in the ground a little longer, or digging as and when until the frost comes, I just dug up everything in one go this time because I’m a busy woman.
Here’s Cara, which as we know, is the Irish word for friend, and potatoes are my friends. This variety produces the quite frightening potato fruit, the weird green things to the right. These are poisonous so I’ve put them to one side for getting revenge on my enemies, which for legal purposes is a joke. But yes, if you can see flowers or the terrifying and dreaded potato fruit, that’s a sign you can start harvesting. This variety’s high-yield and good for baking.
I’ve put in green manure seeds right away to try and add nutrients to the soil. The buckwheat will be interesting given it doesn’t like heavy soil and my allotment is basically made entirely of heavy soil but I’m kind of experimenting with different types of green manure to see what works well – mustard’s been pretty standard so far.
I also bought more seed potatoes (Carlingford and Gemson) to go where I’ve just harvested the onions and garlic, meaning I’ll ideally be eating my own potato-based products well into the new year. If it was biologically possible to grow only potatoes, I’d probably be doing that, but I’m trying to respect the 4-year rotation system so as not to suck all the nurients out.
Meanwhile the onion and garlic continue to dry, terrifying visitors. I finally had some success with the peas and sweetpeas, which I’m growing all together like some lord of chaos.
I had a lovely week away in Scotland and came back to see that despite my excellent work with my new sickle, the weeds were gaining the upper hand. I don’t mind, I got my results from this diploma in Irish I’ve been doing for the last couple of years and I got a First, which made me happy. I’d never got a First in anything really, and I’d been struggling a lot with both my confidence in speaking Irish and with the practicalities involved in studying it as an academic subject, and this has been a confidence boost that’s helped pull me out of a depressive pit where I’ve just been eating pizza for a couple of months. On which note:
Loosely adapted from this recipe and with added peas (home-grown) and cherry tomatoes (not home-grown because they’re still ripening). I like this time of year, when I’m forced to eat healthily because it would be a waste not to. If anyone knows what I can do with 10,000 globe artichokes (OK, 20+), give us a shout.