When life gives you lemons, dig potatoes

I’ve not been to the allotment since Sunday! I’ve started getting paranoid that the whole thing’s been vandalised or something, but I suppose there’s a limited to the extent you can vandalise a patch of mud. I’m going tomorrow, I hope. November must be the worst month for allotmenteers. There’s so much I want to do, and yet so much rain and so little sunlight.

All sorts of difficult things have happened in the last couple of weeks, and in an effort to distract myself, I decided to dig up the potatoes in one of my three growbags I have outside the house. These are the Carlingford potatoes I planted back in August and composted with beer and the Sun newspaper. I know the first time I grew potatoes in growbags, I was too impatient and harvested the lot a little too early, so I confined myself to just one bag today:

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It’s not a huge amount of potatoes, but I’m still happy – they required a very minimal amount of effort to grow, and the watering system was ‘move the bags out from under the balcony whenever it rains’. I poured the bag out onto some newspaper and scrabbled round in the dirt in my pyjamas, forgetting that my garden’s overlooked by shops. Oh well, they are used to it.

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Cooked my one of my favourite potato meals, with things added, including a mixture of home-grown and shop-bought tomatoes. I’ll always insist that potatoes are probably the best vegetables to grow yourself. Part of me wants to turn the whole of the allotment into a giant potato patch, but then, I wouldn’t get to plan it out in quite as much obsessive detail:

IMG_20141115_224621The black ink denotes anything that’s there right now, while the blue ink is part of my planning for the future, and as we’ve seen from all my many other plans, such plans are subject to change. Some of the stuff in black will be moved by the time their blue-inked counterparts are to be planted – for example, the fava beans should be harvested in March, in time to plant maincrop potatoes.

I’ve left large areas for the (potentially rotable) potato patch and a raspberry patch. Thought the potato patch could rotate with the spaces reserved for spring onions, oka/yam, cabbage and polytunnels in 2016, but for the MOMENT, this is what I’m hoping things will look like, more or less, in 2015. I think crop rotation is something I’ve been worrying about too much, really – in all honesty, I don’t know if I’ll still have the allotment in 2016/7/8/9 etc., what with future planning and moving and whatever else goes on in the world outside gardening. I live quite some way from my family, and it might not be that I’m in Northumberland forever, although maybe I will be – one just cannot be certain at this stage. But plan for 2015 I can, and have. I’ve kept an eye out on Freecycle for sheds and maybe even an old set of weatherproof chairs and a table – it’d be nice, maybe once it all looks less like a patch of mud, to have people over – there’s considerably more space on the allotment than in my house. I don’t think I’ve gone totally mad with flower ideas, but I’ve set out a few wildflower patches, which will hopefully make it look nice.

I’ve been thinking more about fruit trees, too – it wasn’t initially a priority, but given that it could be roughly 24 months before I get fruit from them, I might as well plant some in spring in the hope that perhaps I can enjoy some of the fruit from them personally. I’m not allowed to plant what I’d call in pseudo-Northumbrian ‘muckle big’ trees (I wish my allotment contract actually called them that), but smaller fruit trees are allowed, so I was thinking cherry, apple, and maybe plum, and for some fun, the strawberry tree I’ve been fascinated by. I’ve dropped a few Christmas present hints – all of them various unusual plants – to my increasingly bewildered family. If I only got plants as presents, I think I’d still be a happy woman.

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