Veg Patch

To read the story of my Veg Patch in chronological order use the links in the Blog Archive

Saturday, 24 August 2013

How do you dig up potatoes?

In true British fashion this weekend is the August Bank Holiday and its raining. I cant remember the last time we had a glorious sunny one. We had planned a beach barbecue today with friends and neighbours but we have had to cancel. so this morning instead of planning a day of fun and frolics, I find myself writing my weekly blog update and getting the ironing board out .  

This last week the early mornings have been feeling decidedly Autumnal, so with that in mind it was time to start getting more stuff out of the garden ready for winter. 

I mentioned that I needed to dig my potatoes. I have taken two rows out slowly as we have needed them, but three more now needed some serious attention. 

Its a tricky job lifting spuds. The ground was quite hard, so I needed to break it up, but every time I stuck my fork in, I ended up with a potato speared on the end, which is such a waste. How on earth do you get them up without damaging them? I am sure someone must have invented a tool for the job. I shall have to spend some time with my best friend, Google, and find one. I ended up on my knees digging them up with my hands. Not great on the fingernails .

But it was worth the effort. I am very pleased with my Sarpo spuds. 

Lots of different colours and sizes. In my usual fashion, I had labelled the rows with varieties, but only the initial letters as they were quite long names. And now I have lost the leaflet that listed them, so I have no clue what these varieties are. There was one called Blue Danube. You cant see any in this picture. That is the only one I wouldn't grow again. They really are blue and they didn't have any flavour at all.

I ended up with nearly a full sack which are now stored away to be eaten over the winter. Hopefully by us and not local wildlife. 

The nice empty bed is ready for the addition of some more compost and manure,  then I shall plant my onions in it. An empty raised bed is a sad looking thing. Makes it feel that summer is almost over. 

Compost is very important in the garden, especially here where the land has never been cultivated like this before. I showed you my two Daleks last blog, then purely by chance, one of my neighbours offered me two more, that they had found abandoned behind their shed. 

Sadly only one still had its bottom plate. I shall have to buy a new one for the other, so for now its sitting empty . The whole one needed to go in straight away. 

I cleared a space next to the others and had to make a small adjustment with a large saw , to the path edging to get it in. 

A bit of heavy pruning to the conifer and it was in, and is already half full. 

Another vegetable glut is underway. I have been moaning that my tomatoes wouldn't go red, now you cant stop them. I have so many, I made a huge pot of passata yesterday and froze loads to use over the winter. 

I also found another monster courgette hiding under some foliage. It was so large I actually measure it. 12 inches long!! 

The rather wrinkled offering next to it is one of my rude chills ( Cant name it anymore! too many dodgy search engine links) . It should be red, but I accidentally knocked it off a plant when I was rummaging around in the greenhouse. 

I decided to give it a try. I must say so far the other varieties we have tried, have been disappointingly mild. I love a hot chilli, so was hopeful this time as I popped a rather large chunk in my mouth.. Blimey!! this was one hot little fruit. I cant imagine how they will be when finally ripe, but I shouldn't have to wait long as some are nearly there. 

The Habanero are beautiful colours

and this is my first ripe Chiltepin from the chilli trial. 

This was also very mild, but it didn't have any seeds in it, and was tiny, about 1 cm long. hopefully some of the others will be hotter. 

In other news, My seedypenpal parcel arrived from a lady called Jenny. She sent me lots of interesting seeds including some from Ireland. I was pleased to note that one packet contained peas which she says grow to at least 1.5m. These should cover The Great Wall of Barton much better than the dwarf ones I planted on it this year . Jenny is a very talented artist and included a beautiful card she drew herself. 

Go and have a look at her website, you wont be disappointed Thistledown Art & Designs

Out and about this week we had another of our New Forest Adventures with some friends. We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful National Park, and as such it is a huge tourist area. That means we have open top bus tours. This summer they introduced a third route to take in the coastal area, and the stop is right at then end of our lane. It was silly not to go for a ride. After some consultation with the timetable, we were able to plan a journey that would go almost the entire way round all three routes. 

We had a wonderful day out , lots of ducking as we went under low trees in the forest, It was a little windy but in the afternoon it got nice and warm and sunny. 

Gibson came with us as they allow well behaved dogs. He had a wonderful time. We tried to always get the front seats so he could sit in the aisle and look out. He loved it. Horses and cows grabbed his attention all day long, and to see his ears blowing in the breeze was hilarious. 

I tried to get a picture. Its a little wobbly but shows him having a great day out

If you are ever in the New Forest I very much recommend the bus tour. Have a look at the website here. New Forest Tour

Finally I like to try and tell you something you didn't already know ! I always thought the best way to kill a slug was to drown it in beer!!  Well yesterday, I cut a lettuce and was merrily washing it in the sink when out fell a tiny slug. I ignored it, as I assumed it would drown.. Well I was wrong. A few minutes later, I noticed it had done a nifty breast stroke to the side of the sink and was starting to climb out!! Fluke I thought, so I knocked it back into the water , It did it again!! 

It was in 6 inches of water right on the bottom, so not only could it swim, it could also hold its breath. Well who would have known. I eventually got bored and pulled the plug, so its swimming happily somewhere in the village drain system now. 

thats all for now, so have a great holiday weekend if you are in the UK and I hope those of you in the rest of the world enjoy it as well 


  1. Lovely post Lorraine I have 3 of those compost bins and none of mine came with any bottoms all I do is just sit them were I want them roughly mark out dig a little then place some wire over then put the compost bin back over works fine in making compost and would save you going to the garden centre take care and have a lovely weekend

    1. Thats a great Idea, I do have some chicken wire so shall do that after the weekend. I dont want to use it without a bottom of some sort as we do have rats in the garden because of the stream alongside.

  2. We are still bemoaning our lack of red tomatoes.

    The is a rather deformed part of Peter's anatomy isn't it?

    1. It is rather. I must say they dont live up to the name.

    2. Just a thought - that slug wasn't a leech was it - they can look a bit similar?

    3. No am sure it was a slug.. but will certainly look a bit closer if it happens again

  3. Nice one, glad to see you had success with your crops. We had some spud we grew the other day and they were great but the runner beans have been the best success we have had load of them. Sadly the toms and green peppers were not so good. I have a compost bin like you and just slapped it on the ground with no base. seem to work ok.

    1. Hi Bill. We have a bit of an issue with rats as we have a stream along one edge of the property. I had one without a bottom and they just made themselves at home in it. I am going to try wrapping the bottom in chicken wire. that should do it..

  4. Very carefully? I start at one end of the bed with a shovel at the edge and pivot the shovel up then toss the soil into a wheelbarrow, fish out any potatoes and continue that way until the wheelbarrow is full. Once full I continue digging and toss soil into the excavation made from filling the wheelbarrow then continue on that way to the end of the bed. Then I dump the wheelbarrow of soil into the end of the bed where I finish. Still I manage to slice open a few potatoes.

    1. Thanks for that.. I will try anything. I have now found a tool that apparently does the job so will invest for next years crop

  5. Great crop!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  6. Wow what a harvest and so many different types, I love all the different colors

    I'm inviting you to join us for Travel Photo Mondays, the link runs all week so I hope you can join us for the next installment?

    1. Thanks Noel Glad you liked my pictures. I appreciate the comment from a professional :)

  7. Your garden is way ahead of mine. My tomatoes are getting large, but they are still green. But I think my potatoes are about ready to come out. - Margy

  8. My method of harvesting potatoes is a variation of the wheelbarrow method: I start at the end of a row, and fill a 5-gallon bucket with the soil from the first hill. I do use a garden fork, but very carefully about 12" away from the base of the plant. Close to the plant I'm on hands & knees with gloves to save the fingernails.

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