Sunday, 12 July 2009

The not so humble spud!!

Things got very exciting up at plot 103 this weekend. I had my first firkle!! At the end of April, Val, our allotment neighbour gave us 2 seed potatoes to try. They were 'Aran' earlies and we had watched them flower 3 weeks ago with lovely purple and yellow blooms. On Saturday, while harvesting another small bowlfull of strawberries and raspberries (these went very well with some chocolate and coffee), Jemma and I got stuck in to firkling! We carefully removed a little of the soil around the potato mound and there it was.....our first spud staring back at us temptingly.....

Then of course it started to pour with rain which kept us from harvesting until Sunday. Unfortunately the rain made work difficult up on plot 103 so only weeding was done and I put some fish blood and bone around the broccolli and lined each plant with some slug stoppa pellets. Some of the broccolli looks like its being nibbled on and there is no sign of catterpillars and the brassica beds are all netted, so with all the wet weather over the last couple of weeks the logical conclusion is slugs. But not to worry, Cillian and I are both off work for 3 glorious weeks after this friday and we are hoping to spend a lot of it up on the allotment.
On Sunday we were on a mission to harvest our first vegetable crop, our Aran spuds which seem to have blissfully escaped the blight. Unfortunately some potato plants up on the other plots have succumbed to blight after all the wet humid weather. We began quite respectably attempting to lift the two plants with a garden fork but as the ground is very stony Jemma and I were reduced to getting on our hands and knees and just digging out the spuds with our hands which was very exciting as we slowly unearthed one spud at a time and had enough from the two plants for a lovely dinner for the three of us. (Eoin unfortunately missed out this time as he had to work).

We were so delighted to find not one spud had been damaged by slugs, wireworm or any other potato pest or disease and were absolutely perfect with little or no eyes. I've never seen such perfect potatoes, creamy and unblemished and we realised how bad the quality of some shop bought potatoes are. We didn't insult these spuds by doing anything fancy to them, just boiled in their very light skins and served with a dollop of home made parsley butter.

They tasted 10 times better than shop bought, and for the first time we really tasted the 'earthiness' people talk about when describing the flavour of potatoes, it was almost perfumed with the flavour of what I can only describe as 'greenness'. My faith is renewed!!! When we started at plot 103 I wasn't overly pushed to put in many potatoes as having been brought up with a portion of potatoes nearly every day at dinner, like most Irish people, I had grown sick of them and I don't eat them very often anymore. But there was nothing humble about these spuds and we're now looking forward to our roosters which should be ready in early Autumn and are growing away tall and strong. Next year we'll dedicate a lot more space to our not so humble spuds, they seem to like it up at Annamoe allotments.

On the Salads front, our lettuce has clearly decided to give us the 2 fingers and has joined the electricians on strike!! They have made it perfectly clear that they just do not like our acid soil with few nutrients so I fear that this year we may have to consider them one of our failures and concentrate on preparing the beds properly for them next year. We'll lime the soil to sweeten it for them and pack it with lots of manure and compost over the winter and try again next year. These are salad bowl (a cut and come again type), ice queen (an iceberg type), rocket, and a type of butterhead who's name I can't remember. They were sown around the second weekend in May and should be much further along at this stage if not nearing harvest, but they've just decided they don't want to play this allotment game and really haven't put on any growth staying tiny. The spinach we sowed around the same time has bolted and gone to seed before it reached 4 inches in height, also on strike.On the balcony at home there is a flush of colour at least as my tiger striped gazanias, having survived lady Isabella Harvey's (the cat) onslaught, have opened up and sit pretty among the deep blue lobelias. My roses are also in bloom but unfortunately I'm still waiting on my summer Jasmine to flower. Summer is most definately here.


  1. Your first taste of true spuds! The shop bought ones even if they are earlies do not taste the same.I am sure you noticed how papery thin the skin was on your spuds, you rarely if ever get them that fresh in a shop.This year is a year of win some ,lose some, due more to the erratic weather than on anything we are or are not doing.

  2. Oh I remember my first time - my first time of tasting fresh potatoes that is.

    Its been raining here on and off and I am starting to worry about blight. I picked a handful of strawberries today and some of them had got mouldy because of the rain. Ugh!

  3. Thanks for the comments Peggy and Mangocheeks. Yes we had a few mouldy strawberries too, its been pouring on and off for the last 2 weeks or so. The skins were so thin and delicate, absolutely gorgeous, can't wait till all our other veg is ready. This is our experimental year so hopefully we'll have more successes than failures, and when the grounds properly prepared in the winter for next year we'll hopefully know what grows well and what doesn't.