Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The first (and last) early potatoes

My partner revealed my mother-in-law had already dug up her first batch of new potatoes last week. I was incensed because all her potatoes this year are from tubers I'd chitted and then donated to her. There's nothing that makes you feel greener quicker than someone else having more success with your own stuff. I've been on the other end of this when a neighbour gave me several butternut squash plants last year. While hers withered and died mine remained in rude health the entire summer. It felt great. But being on the other side is not so good.

So I went down the allotment and set to work on claiming my share of the first early glory.

In April I planted two first earlies - Bonnie Dundee and Homeguard. I forget why I chose Bonnie Dundee. It might have been to do with it's beautiful, rose marble pattern visible when sliced in half (above right). Homeguard, I chose because it's a vintage potato, established in 1942. I planted six tubers each, and I dug the trench deep, mounding up the earth in advance.

All of which means the potato bed is now the bog of eternal stench after a summer of eternal rain. The soil parped and belched making low, wet sounding raspberries as I dug - the sludgy consistency of an over dunked digestive at the bottom of tea cup. But I found what I was looking for... just. A muddy handful of Homeguard and three solitary Bonnie Dundees (above left). (The latter a laughable yield of one single potato per tuber planted).

Ah, well. Allotment suppers will be a pot luck affair this year. My partner found one single ripe tomato (variety: Gardeners Delight, likes: full sun - ha!). Smaller than a ten pence piece we halved and shared - thinking it better than an entire punnet having never seen the inside a fridge. Apart from that it was back to the broad beans and reliable radishes for sustenance (below). But, I can't recommend Homeguard highly enough, a super buttery first early and a fetching shade of palest cream. It's a dead cert for next year.


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