Tuesday, 6 May 2008

That's more like it

Bank Holiday Monday (the first of two in May), was a stunning day. It's not often that I have been able to say that. In my 19 years here, one feels very, very lucky when the weather is this good (80 degrees and sunny?) on the first Monday in May.

What did I accomplish. What didn't I accomplish?

Let's go back a day, to Sunday. More digging out there in the potato patch.

And as I still couldn't be certain of Monday's weather (who can ever be certain?), as you know it was my dearest wish to get those potatoes in. There was only a tiny sprinkle of rain at one point, nothing to deter one. By the time I finished, after working out with the tape measure what would go where, and how, I got them all in. I have a little map, too, so I know what is where.

In this patch there are 8 Maris Piper (a good all rounder), 8 King Edward (lovely again for everything, but really look forward to roasting them with beef or chicken), 6 Desiree (nice red potato, good for mashing I believe) and 4 Charlottes, a lovely salad potato.

The Charlottes are considered "second earlies" but I decided to try them, even though they probably should have been planted at least two weeks ago. But on further reading, from Titchmarsh, Harrison and Oliver (more on that in a minute), I learned that it is not that they have to go in the ground at that time, it's just that if you plant them earlier, you get an earlier crop. Or so I understand.

So in the end I only probably wasted 99p, by being so greedy at the 99p Store!

Another reason for including the Charlottes was the spacing - they don't need to be 15 inches apart as maincrop, but 12 inches.

I encountered a beast of a rock (chunk of cement? massive great lump of rock?) just at the back by the fence, behind those front four white markers (which are the Charlottes). Both of these bad boys came up out of the ground at some point last year. I fear there is much more of this down there ... how? I ask you, how? What is that stuff doing down there?

I couldn't get it out, try as I might, and as dear husband is away just at the moment, it was down to me. In fact, I broke the fork. A proper Wilkinson Sword one as well. Well, that's one more thing for the list ... I may get the new one from Poundstretcher.

So I had to rethink the spacing, as clearly I wasn't going to plant anything in that spot, with that massive thing down there.

If what I have read is true about potato planting, I think I may have a lot of potatoes at the end of the day ... Fingers crossed. I would like to add that another book I've found very useful is Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home. Not only is it chock full of useful planting tips, but of course there are some gorgeous recipes!

Ah, now we come to the beautiful Monday. Off again to the garden centre, for some stakes, and some plants. I almost succumbed and bought a gorgeous Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens, which I so look forward to having at the back. But that would be silly, as I just can't plant it yet. It was a gorgeous specimen, but I held off, good girl. It's blooming all over at the moment and it just makes my mouth water.

I did buy some other plants, but more on that later. Most important to me was the stakes for the beans and peas I intend to grow. And the peas themselves - Mangetout as we call it, also known as Sugar Snap (although we have Sugar Snap here too, and it is slightly fatter). In any case, it's not a podding pea, but one you eat the whole of (hence why the English call it "Mangetout", although I have no idea what the French call it!). I saw the plants on Saturday on my last trip to the garden centre and thought, hmmm ....

I have been picking up lettuce seed packets here and there. Well hey, with this gorgeous day, I de-rocked in front of the (sprouting!) onions, and planted lettuce (two kinds), rocket (I think in the US it's called arugula?), and spinach.

And then I did the beanpole thing (I had cat company, as you see) and planted those 6 lovely mangetout. That leaves four spaces for climbing French beans, which I did buy some seeds for. That shoudn't be too much of a problem, growing up some seed and planting out in a few weeks.

Not only that, but I planted my Basil for the season. This time, I am going to try it in this trough, because to my mind you just can't have too much Basil. Can't wait for that to grow up! I use the Genovese seeds.

At the very end of the day, after much satisfactory planting, about which I am so excited, I put the nematodes down. More on that next time, as it is very important.

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