I have sort of had a moochy day today doing a bit of this and doing a bit of that. I have also been for a very long walk down by the River Nene and through a wild area that is now a boarded walk. Needless to say Missy came with us. She is very funny to watch when she is off the lead, she runs in circles and figures of eight, is always on the go and seems to relish the freedom of being off the lead and being able to scent out new things. She does not like pigeons, barks at them and then if they start to hop off she goes flying after them. Difference is she does not fly. The same with rabbits. Mind you someone went by on a bicyle and she chased them as well. Crazy animal.
Needless to say we were having a lovely walk, the wildlife and vegetation seems to be a good 3 to 4 weeks behind, nettles are only just starting to sprout up, (I was looking as would like to have a go at some nettle gnocchi, some nettle beer and some nettle wine). The Catkins are just starting to blossom and there was some pussy willow buds in bloom not many. The willow is still bare but sprouting out of its base trunk, and is the most marvellous mix of colours.
We were walking along talking with Missy out front - next thing we know she has stepped off the board walk - we believe because there was grass under the surface of the water - the next thing we knew Missy was in - the look of shock on her face spoke volumes, but she swam - her first experience of water and she got out herself. We had only walked a short way further along before she was in again this time by choice. I only wished we had had a camera with us. So I think we have a bit of a water baby on our hands.
I am a bit of a newbie to growing certain crops, potatotes being one of them so I have been reading what to do and am also starting to plan out what I am going to do with the Garden and I am learning and enjoying the process.
The potato sets I bought in the week are Pentland Javelin which are apparently a first early. You are supposed to plant them now and between May. As mine only have a few sprouts on them they need chitting. Not sure what this entailed, but on reading the River Cottage Veg Patch book indicates that chitting means leaving the potato sets in a tray in the light so that they form chits or nodules i.e the start of new growth - the preferred chits per potato seed being two to three. They are therefore in a tray loose in one of my mini greenhouses to enocourage these chits. Once these chits are formed I apparently need to dig a hole and into this hole I need to put some manure and some scrunched up newspaper then placing in the chitted potato about 20cm down or 10cm for earlies placing the potato in chits up; preparing the potatoes this way is supposed to help them along.
Then we have to wait for the potato tops to show and then I have to do something called "earthing up" and this is achieved from what I have read by raking up the soil around the plants to create a ridge of potatoes, which protects the potatoes and prevents light getting to them as otherwise they would be green and inedible. Earthing up also helps with weeding. As flowers appear on the tops remove them as this will help increase the yield.
First earlies and second earlies will keep for a week or so only.
Maincrop allow these to dry in the sun for a day or two before storing somewhere dark in hessian or paper bags.
My dad always used to say that Potatoes were a good crop to grow on soil that hadn't been used for growing anything recently as it helped clean the ground out.
Well I have made a start. Will report back when the potatoes have chitted and I come to plant them.