Undercover Lover

Fleece on the bed _2014

There were a couple of frosts last week which got me wondering on Thursday morning about the spuds I sowed a few weeks back after listening to Joe Maiden on BBC Radio Leeds. He said at the time it’s worth putting a row in as you never know what the future weather will bring.

Spuds pop up their heads_2014

I put some fleece over the area Thursday night as there was supposedly going to be more frost but then in the morning thought that it might have been a case of “shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted.”

Today I lifted it up the fleece and saw that the spuds have sprouted, how good is that, that Joe Maiden talks a load of sense! Do listen to the BBC Leeds’ Gardening with Tim & Joe show as there’s some great advice on it.

Veg Bed March 2014

I stuck in some Carrots in the veg bed today and noticed there’s some Parsnips and Cabbages peeping through the soil after sowing them a month ago. The morale of this tale is, it’s well worth taking a risk with seeds, what have you got to lose?

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Full circle

once there was spuds..

Gardening’s great innit? Last week my wife pulled out the spuds from the plant that was growing in an old sack which gave us enough for a posh family tea (new potatoes, fish fingers and beans!) The seed potato cost me 5p from the Sydenham seedy sunday event earlier this year, a big bag of multipurpose peat-free compost was less than a fiver from Shannon’s and the sack was given to me free. All I had to do was water the plant and feed it every now and again with some diluted comfrey liquid. Cheap as chips, no pun intended!

After harvesting the potatoes I was left with the top of the plant, a rotting sack and a mound of used compost. No problem! The plant went on the compost heap, the sack put to use behind the pond to stop weeds growing and the compost reused again. I’ve filled some old plastic pots which were found in the street and split some pineapple and eau de cologne mints and giving them away to mates. Keeps the old circle going around as they say. I do love receiving seeds and stuff from me gardening mates so it’s nice to repay the favour sometimes!

old sink and mint

Talking of Shannon’s I popped in there the weekend and got myself some more seed potatoes to stick in now so they’ll be ready for christmas unless they get blight but that depends on the weather, just like a lot things to do with gardening! Big up the ‘umble spud!

Find of the week

cloche

Found this mad cloche outside a house with a “take me” note the other night (it will need a few air-holes drilled in the top). Typically I was knackered and had a full bag of shopping with us so it was a bit of a bind carrying it home (it’s well heavy as it’s glass and quite large) but I reckon it’ll be worth it’s weight in gold!  The day after I thought I had another touch when I saw seed potatoes for a pound to clear in Robert Dyas. On closer inspection they were the unhealthiest seed potatoes I’ve ever seen! They all looked like dried prunes and the chits had grown into sprouts that looked like twigs and were well dried out. The only use for them would be the compost heap. Watch out for those so called bargain offers!

do they owe us a living?

Talking of composting, the other day I found the above mad article by chance which mentioned Dial House home of the punk band Crass. It’s a review of a two day compost toilet building workshop, brilliant! Question: Do they owe us a living?…

Half term something come back again

Yesterday was a bit of a blinder weather-wise. There was a thick frost during the early hours of the morning but in the afternoon it was well nice and even got slightly warm!  I’m off for the half term so I got the old flymo out and did the lawn, forgetting to go around the remains of an old bush in the middle of the grass thus mangling the metal blade of the mower in the process. It was nothing that could be sorted with a slight modification with a pair of pliers!

chitted potatoes and moody catI’ve been warming up a bed for the past few days (where spuds are going to go) using some horticultural fleece and yesterday took the massive risk of putting in a small handful of seed potatoes and sticking the fleece back over, anchoring it down with bricks and stones as you know it’ll be cold again. I only put in about 6 so if they fail it will be only 90p wasted (they were 15p each at the great seed swap/spud event in Sydenham) but they are buried in about 3″ of pre-warmed soil and have fleece over the top of them so fingers crossed!

when the chits are downI also stuck one of the already chitted seed potatoes (the end with the nice green tips go skywards up!) in a large sack covering the tips of the chits with about an inch or so of compost and will keep adding more once they start growing. I put the sack in the homemade cloche/mini cold frame where it’s in the company of two seed trays of cabbage seedlings. The sack could’ve be started off in a conservatory or a porch keeping them out of way of the mad spring weather so give them a good start before moving them outside in a couple of months when the weathers better. More half term gardening reports to come…

Let them eat (Potato) cake

we're just chittingIt’s that time again! With the seed potatoes I bought at the Potato Fair and Seedy Sunday the other week I’ve started “chitting” them so to get the spuds off to a good start.

All that entails is simply getting the seed potato, placing them upright in a suitable container, an old egg box or a clean seed tray with the “rose end” upwards (the end that has the “eye’s”) and put in cool, light and airy place, away from frosts and let nature do it job. Mine are in the back room by the patio doors. I’ve just checked them now and I must have put a couple by mistake the wrong way around as yellow buds were starting at the bottom. No bother, just turn them around  if that happens.

In a few weeks you will get nice tight buds forming not those long yellow shoots you get when a potato starts to spout inside the spud bag! I’ve also felt-tipped on the box what variety they are and if it’s an early or a main cropper, as it’s very easy to get confused having bought two varieties.

We were told a great tip last year from Shirley Calgary who said “Actually you do not need the whole potato – I have cut the potatoes in 2 or 3 pieces as long as you have a sprouted or sprouting eye you are all set.” Brilliant!

Remember to tell everyone else in the house that they are special seed potatoes or you might have them cut, boiled and served on your dinner plate like “lewishamgardens” did. That’s a crime!

A seedy sunday in sydenham

The London Charity Potato Fair and Seed Exchange
Sunday 27th January 2013
11.00am-3.00pm
Sydenham School
Dartmouth Road
Forest Hill
London SE26 4RD

A last minute news flash about a seed swap event a stones throw from the weeds up to me knees HQ tomorrow. It looks a great day out and I’ll definitely be wandering up there if the weathers okay and I have a spare tenner in me pocket.

As it says about the event on the web:
At all these events in addition to a huge range of seed potatoes, there will be our Heritage and Heirloom seeds, onion sets, shallots and garlic bulbs, fruit trees, soft fruit and other edible plants such as rhubarb and asparagus.

If you’re up there I’ll be the one trying to do deals with the stallholders with bags of small change and old washers!

It’s alright this gardening lark, innit?

A mad day to say the least. The weather was first rate and conditions that inspired a day of gardening and then later, chilling in the back garden. My petrol mower was chugging away at 11am with no complaints (the guy across the road had his going at the ungodly hour of 9am on a Sunday morning without the police being called, the power of sunshine eh?)

Today I dug up the spuds that started off in the home-made cold frame which were later served up for dinner. Not as many for the two plants as I thought (earlies aren’t supposed to be massive harvesters) but enough roast spuds for a sunday dinner for a family of four. Perhaps I was expecting too much, but quality far out-weighed the quantity. Comments on the produce from the family were along the lines of “these potatoes taste like real potatoes”, too right! There’s still the rest of the bag of seed potatoes-worth of plants to go, so there’s a good few more roasters to enjoy.

There’s even a second flower on the water lilly in the pond, and for the last couple of years we’ve been cursing the bloke in Lewisham’s premier pet shop as all we’ve got is the odd leaf or two. Shame! The above pic shows the water lily that cost us a fiver about 2 years ago, a few oxygenating pond plants I got off ebay for about £3 which is spreading like wildfire and two of the goldfish of the 13 my wife got for the price as 11 (£7ish) at the Lewisham pet shop after she listened intently to the bloke chat on about his own pond. Bargain!