I thought today would be a good day to start taking the potatoes up.
To the left we’ve got Sarpo Kifli, and to the right we’ve got our trusty old Carolus. I wasn’t too thrilled with the yield in either case but I suppose it’s fairly early days yet, and we’ve got to remember there’s an upper limit to the amount of potatoes I can eat. On which more later. Also dug some of the Salad Blue:
They don’t look too attractive when unwashed but I like the fact that they have these (highly poisonous) berries to tell you when you can start digging them. I’ve noticed some of the Sarpo Kifli greenery’s started to die away, another sign it’s time for me to start harvesting.
Not sure what it is about my allotment and artichokes but they’re the one thing I’ve never had trouble growing, and they’re massive – you can see my hand on the photo to the left there and my hands are roughly average size. If anyone has ideas for what to do with artichokes other than de-spike, boil and then eat the bracts, I’d like to hear them. I always leave a few to turn into flowers before cutting them back for the winter. I’m glad to have them – 5 tiny plants are now taking up a reasonable amount of space and keeping the weeds down, which I’m hugely grateful for at this time of year.
Fruit’s doing OK this year too – I need to put more effort into making sure the non-wild strawberries have somewhere to grow properly and ensuring the wild ones don’t take over, but they’re all delicious. The raspberries weren’t happy with me after I cut them back, so I didn’t get any last season, but they’re showing signs of forgiving me.
All my peas got eaten by rabbits quite early on in the season so, living out the true definition of insanity, I just replanted them, took no anti-rabbit measures, and anticipated different results. So far the second batch of peas remains uneaten but they’ve got a lot of growing to do. My go-to peas, the Lord Leicesters, have always survived right into late October so I’m cautiously optimistic.
Talking of rabbits, they also ate around half the fennel, the hoppy little rascals, but I’m pleased some of it’s survived and it’s looking healthy.
I’ve been obsessed with this idea of getting hens. Especially if I had a chicken tractor – they’d have plenty of space to move around, they’d keep the weeds down, I’d have eggs, we’d all be happy. There’s a farm near me that does pick ‘n’ mix hatching eggs and also takes hens in while you’re on holiday and it’s really tempting, but I’ve concluded I can’t really do it at this point in my life. Even if I had low-maintenance hens, they’re still a daily commitment and I travel a lot (pre-plague, anyway). But one day, I think it’d be good to have some around. Silkies are my favourites from all the research I’ve done although I’d be worried whether they’d survive damp Northumbrian winters.
There’s this stereotype of allotmenteers, in Britain at least, that we’re generally quite middle class, and I mean – fair in my case. It feels weird to me, someone with time and money to put into growing food as a hobby, to be sharing these photos of relatively abundant crops when there are people in my town who struggle to buy food each week. And this isn’t something that’ll improve, with the Global Circumstances being what they are and the government being what it is. So let me talk a little about Community Larders, comrades.
It’s a simple enough idea, based on the principle of mutual aid. Our group’s trying to actively involve allomenteers:
So there’s a chance that I’ll be filling a phone box with potatoes if the yield improves later on (or using the money I save from growing my own food to buy non-potato items for the Community Larder). It’s not how I anticipated 2020, friends. But I don’t think the year’s working out as any of us had really planned, and I’m worried we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact this’ll have of people who are already struggling thanks to Tory austerity. It’s worth doing, at any rate, even if it only feels like a small thing.