Sunday, 27 June 2010

Vegetable Video Diary: June

Pigeons, ants, blackfly and slugs: there's no doubting that these are tough times down at the London Vegetable Garden allotment. Today, I took a 3-minute video showing what's been going on, what's growing and how I'm battling a plethora of pests in order to keep the organic odyssey going...

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes!

By my own admission, I am a vegetable gardener with Jekyll and Hyde tendencies! That is to say, that whilst this weekend has been full of gloom, doom and disheartenment (see previous post!), this post is all about positive potato progress!

The potato plants were one of the first vegetables I planted back in April and so far, seem to be the only plant that's thriving – probably due to the fact that they are underground and out of the way of hungry pests! Anyway, various books, not to mention different allotment gardeners, have said that some very early potatoes may be ready when the plants have flowered.

Well, a few of mine had indeed flowered, so I set to digging around in the soil. This is what I started to unearth:

At last – some form of success dear readers! This was exactly the reward I needed after such a disheartening weekend and provided a much-needed smile!

Now; I'd like some advice from readers of the London Vegetable Garden please! What is the correct way to dig up potatoes? I used a spade, but in doing so, sliced a couple of hidden potatoes as I dug down into the soil. Are these simply casualties of war, or is there a method to lift all potatoes harmlessly? Advice much appreciated!

I still have a few potato plants left growing (of the early varieties), so will leave these in the ground for a few more weeks to see if these encourage a higher yield of potatoes.

Anyway, I got these potatoes home and my girlfriend and I boiled them up as part of our tea and melted a little butter on top of them. Very simple, but incredibly tasty! They were extremely soft and fluffy and one really can taste the difference between potatoes that have been dug up a few hours previously to supermarket ones that have been chilled and frozen for days at a stretch.

Disheartened Digging

There's no escaping the fact that this is the first blog post in a while. Whilst the World Cup has admittedly played its part in the lack of gardening updates, another factor is plain and simply that, for the first time in my very short gardening life, I am feeling thoroughly unmotivated and disheartened - and judging by the picture above, it's not hard to see why!

I've no doubt that every gardener has faced this feeling at some point or another. The arrival at the allotment, only to find that so many of your crops are being devoured and destroyed by pests. All of that hard work; sowing, growing, looking after, watering – all to have the plants eaten in a day by a multitude of shameless pests.

Now, I'm fully aware that I have to keep plodding on – battling pests is part and parcel of gardening and has been for centuries. This is simply my first encounter with them, having previously only enjoyed the pest-free confines of a sterile balcony.

Another issue that I think is relevant in my situation, is the distance between myself and the allotment. The journey is 2 miles, which takes 40 minutes walking at a fast pace, or 20 minutes jogging. Either way, each visit requires planning, thought and consideration and many times, I feel as if I'm lacking access to core materials.

For example, while many other allotment owners use old bits of wood to create frames; mesh for protection etc., it's often hard for me to get hold of these items and also to transport them from the flat to the allotment. It's a different kettle of fish for gardeners who either have a car, or literally live around the corner.

Nevertheless, this is my first attempt at gardening 'in the wild' so to speak. I am learning so much already, and despite being disheartened, am turning these learning curves into positives – by that, I mean that I am using my mistakes to learn how to do things better next time and also, using them to share with readers of the London Vegetable Garden!

I shall be putting together some of these tips next week, so watch this space!


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