Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mrs Potato Head

Autumn is certainly here (but I guess that it is allowed to be, at the end of September) with the nights drawing in fast & much cooler weather - in fact, a frost this morning at Bag End in Cumbria.

Nothing like that nonsense here, yet, but I was armed with a jumper when I went to the Hill yesterday. On the List was:

- dig the final eight maincrop potatoes & sow green manure in their stead
- get rid of the horrible collapsed pea frame - save some pea pods of each for next year
- clear another variety of dwarf french beans, saving pods
- pick courgette + anything else for tea

Well, that all look fairly achievable, & I got off to a great start by forking up the potatoes. The variety is Setanta - 'a floury allrounder with red skin & excellent blight resistance'.

It also yields - although this was not referred to in any of the info that I read about them - absolutely MASSIVE tubers. About 8 to each plant, all about football size. This does cut down on potato peeling, of course, as you only have to use a single potato when you are preparing a shepards pie for - say - ten people. I weighed them later when I'd put them in a sack to store - nearly 40lb of potatoes from just eight potatoes sown.

I cleared the early warwick dwarf french beans from where they were nicely dried out on the plants, then was having a half hearted go at trying to work out which peas were which from the tangle of dead plants on the collapsed frames in order to save a few pods for next year when I was happily distracted by John Badger (from the bottom) coming by.

We admired the luxuriant growth of the green manure in the front bed - photos of this bed taken mid Aug, and now, 4 wks later - and JB suggested that I don't leave it overwinter, but dig it in now whilst it is young & sappy & will rot down easily.

"It's nearly a foot high now, it'll be a devil of a job to dig in if it gets much bigger," he advised.

Well, that is where he was wrong - it was a devil of a job to dig in as it was. Much too tall to neatly turn in, & the rows I'd so carefully sown to make the digging in easier were grown over & virtually non existent. It was a hateful, heavy going job which I did badly - with sticking up bits and blades of grass scattered everywhere.

I ended up a slightly strange colour in the face, & was completely not happy with the job I'd done - if the rye grass is not turned over properly it was not rot, but regrow where it can. I scowled & muttered & stamped over to the manure skip to haul muck in tub after tub across to cover the bed over - right, rye, grow back through that if you dare.

Having learned a valuable lesson about green manure, I roughly raked the two old potato beds & sowed more rows of rye seed to leave in over winter - or until it makes a bid for world domination, whichever is sooner.


  1. Assuming you have now made shepherd's pie for half the street, what do the Setanta taste like? Is it a variety worth growing again?

    re: the green manure, will trawl through grey matter during the day (difficult because (a) there isn't much and (b) I got hit with an evil cold yesterday which Management kindly brought home from a business meeting). I remember an article about green manures in which Someone Terribly Knowledgeable about these things (might have been Bob Flowerdew) wrote that they were actually nothing like as useful as some people claimed, mostly because they are such a pain in the Wotsit to dig in and get rid of.

    PS: latest trick whilst Blogger plays silly *** with comments - highlight the text & copy it before pressing publish {g}

  2. Yes Hazel, like Bilbo I was wondering how those magnificent tubers would taste. I dug up some earlies that I'd forgotten about, and would have needed ten of them to feed one person! However, the first digging of my parsnips was a success. They are large, unmarked and the taste is good and should improve after the frost. But we don't want to talk about frost do we! I wouldn't mind a bit of Autumnal warmth and sun before Winter sets in. Today is dire.

  3. We were thinking of planting green manure but having read what happened to you, we have changed our minds! Thanks

  4. I can report that the Setanta have a very nice taste - they are good bakers, with quite a robust 'jacket'. Clearly the yield is good, and with blight resistance too, I'll put it on my 'grow again' List.

    Green manure is a Good Thing, I think - helps soil structure, keeps nutrients in the bed, surpresses weeds etc etc - but you can't let it get out of control!

    With hindsight, I would have dug it in a week earlier, when it was maybe 6" and not double that in height.

  5. Ohhhhh no! I'm really glad I've read your post because I've just sown rye myself, and am now dreading the digging bit!

    Thank you for this, though, cause now I'll make sure to keep a close eye on it :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...