Saturday, 10 February 2007

Rain Stopped Play

Having put the hard work in last weekend preparing about 70 square metres of beds I was rather hoping to start planting a few green things today.

This morning was a washout, the rain was too heavy for me. To date I am a fair weather allotment man.

This afternoon was dry for a while, but on the way to the allotments I bumped into one of the committee members (the same chap who is currently loaning me tools and a shed). He sagely advised me not to do any digging today, that I should wait until tomorrow.

With the storm clouds gathering and a trip to the supermarket calling I took his advice.

We did however buy some seeds. Hopefully I can get the Arran Pilot potatoes into the ground tomorrow. It's what they call a First Early, meaning that you plant it from February onwards and start munching the spuds about three months later.

Various reading suggests that you shouldn't just shove spuds you bought from the supermarket into the ground and expect them to grow. Though to be honest I think that's what my dad used to do when I was a kid, and none of the words of wisdom in books or websites I've read so far suggest any good reasons why you shouldn't just plant regular shop bought potatoes. I have a pack of Maris Piper potatoes in the kitchen at the moment and can buy Maris Piper seed potatoes, so what's the difference? I don't know.

I think I shall give over a small section of my potato bed to experimenting with planting shop bought potatoes just to see what happens.

Another thing I read that you are supposed to do with seed potatoes is to "chit" them. This means leaving them to sprout green bits before burying them in the ground. All the allotment holders I've spoken to about this so far have told me not to bother, they say that you can just plonk the seed spuds complete with their fledging shoots into the ground and they'll grow fine. So that's what I'm going to do. Perhaps those shoots are the "chits"? I don't know.

I've been asking here and there for advice, and probably the best piece I've received so far was "buy seeds, read the instructions on the packet, and follow them". That sounds easy enough.

Hopefully tomorrow will be drier (though the weather forecast does not bode well) and I can sling a load of manure into some trenches that I'll dig and make my first planting of potatoes.

I estimate that I can plant 40 to 50 properly spaced potato plants in the bed that I've prepared for them, though I have no idea if that's too many. It sounds like a lot, but it's also about the number of seed potatoes in the 3kg bag that I bought (I didn't count them, I'm just guessing).

Perhaps I'll end up feeding half my street with the excess of spuds, only time will tell.

On the plus side today, at least my nicely prepared beds hadn't suddenly bloomed into weed-life during the week. I must admit that I sort of expected them to do exactly that. I'd read that turning the soil exposes old weed seeds and that they start growing immediately, but I couldn't think of anything to do other than to dig the beds over, so I did, and to hell with it.

So far, no pesky weeds (it won't last).

No comments: