Tuesday 21 August 2012

Hot potatoes

It was a great August weekend - sunny, just a couple of spots of rain and hot! With our fickle weather we had to make the most of it in the garden.
I dug up the remaining potatoes. So far the yield hasn't been great (mostly Sante and Pentland Javelins) but the last bed was Desiree and Colleen with some Rosas that came up from last year's missed ones (what I call feral potatoes!).
In general the Desirees were good quality and size. I got 22lbs from 3 lbs of seed potatoes I bought, which doesn't sound all that great but much better that the Sante and PJs in the other bed. Colleens are supposed to be first earlies but I find they are better left to get a decent size and got about 30lbs from the 3lbs of seed potatoes. I did take a few for new potatoes early on.
The commercial potato growers are all complaining because although this year there was lots of rain there was not much sun. Their yields are down 15-20%.
This year I planted some potatoes saved from last year. Because of the warm winter a lot of our stored Sante & PJ potatoes had started sprouting so I thought they may as well get planted because they weren't any good for eating.
In general:
  • The early potatoes (Santes & PJs) grown in pots in the greenhouse from own stock were good this year and I may do more next year.
  • Santes & PJs grown outdoors were poor, maybe weather or soil or possibly a bit of blight. We love Santes for their flavour but I may give them and the PJs a miss next year and try other varieties. We had Hunters last year and they produced really nice big white potatoes.
  • Desirees were great. I will plant more in future.
  • Feral potatoes come up sooner than planted potatoes and give reasonable yield - maybe because they get started earlier or have proved their strength by survival in the soil over the winter. Is it worth deliberately leaving some in or planting much earlier?
Potatoes waiting to be packed into cardboard boxed for storing in the garage.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Comma butterfly

The conservatory doors are wide open most of the time during this sunny spell and loads of insects - flies, bees, dragonflies and butterflies fly in. They are welcome to pollinate the tomatoes and squashes but I do try to evict them before the end of the day because they don't survive overnight.
Yesterday we were delighted to see a butterfly which at first I thought had been damaged maybe by a bird looking for lunch. The trailing edges of its wings were ragged and indented. But on closer inspection I could see it was that way on purpose and on the underside of the wings it had a distinct "eye" pattern. I hadn't seen one of these here before. I consulted UK Butterflies and discovered it was likely to be a Comma (pictures from their website). Great to see more variety of butterflies.

Comma butterfly - image from UK butterflies

See the ragged edges of its wings and the little "eye"
image from UK butterflies

Monday 13 August 2012


August 12th was a day of celebration! Successful London Olympics and great closing ceremony. I loved the Olympic cauldron with the 204 petals. It was a beautiful, original and imaginative design by Thomas Heatherwick and a feat of engineering and workmanship. After the brilliant opening ceremony with the flaming petals rising together into a united cauldron we waited in anticipation of how it would unfold and die. A shame it will be dismantled - but with the individual petals going back to the competing nations it will have another life.

Our own little celebration - we picked our first ripe Big Boy tomato and had it for lunch. It weighed  11oz. I noted from our "sow and harvest" logbook that last year our first crop was on 13 August so fairly consistent there.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Saturday Night at Froggarts Cottage

Saturday night at Froggarts Cottage is spent:
  • Podding a bucket of broad beans and putting them in ice-cream boxes to freeze
  • Juicing yet more blackcurrants
  • Sorting and spreading out 2 buckets (about 30 pounds) of potatoes dug this morning to dry-off ready for putting in store
  • Cleaning filthy fingernails!
Earlier - dinner of fried courgettes and home-grown spuds with steak followed by raspberries and home-made blackcurrant icecream. Mmm!