Saturday, May 5, 2012

Flying Buttresses & Leading Actors

Here is the spot where I am about to plant some potatoes.

At least, here it is before I had the brilliant idea to use bricks as Flying Buttresses for the necessary soil addition: weedy, about to be conquered by some rampaging strawberries, unremarkable.

This year we're trying Bintje, a yellow potato. But instead of having a long straight stretch of wonderfully mulched and hilled up plants, through which I'd just have to reach in and tug loose a few new potatoes every now and then, I'm doing spot planting, but that's only because I don't have that many long straight stretches of garden.
While I like potatoes, in fact I'd go so far as to say that I deeply admire them, my enthusiasm wanes at the idea of using my long straight stretches on them. The potato is a highly useful veg, I admit - handy in a pinch, able to do double duty in any number of dishes, and what's not to like about the way they turn into a hot crisp chip - but they are definitely the character actor in my garden. They don't get top billing. They get what's there for them.

Like this guy. Couldn't do without him but would I run a mile to meet him, heart all akimbo? Methinks not. (sorry Mr Reilly)

Thus,  the long straight stretches I reserve for the leading actors: tomatoes, peas, greens, and sprouting broccoli. The ones that inspire intense passion, the ones that set my heart racing, the ones that...well, you get the idea.

Like this guy. I'd run a mile to meet him. Heck, I'd even run TWO miles. Maybe three.

Oooh la la, Mr Darcy. Let me change that wet shirt of yours. Mop your fevered brow?

Moving on....
Here's how I plant my potatoes:

Dig a trench about 10 inches deep. Add some rock phosphate, maybe a little bone meal (my soil being clayey and heavy). Add potatoes. Cover with a dusting of potting soil and some straw.

Reserve some soil to cover them as the sprouts grow up. When they get to be about 3-4" tall, cover the shoots almost to the top.

I've got some in trenches, some in chicken wire circles, and some in brick squares.

Like this one. This is the After to the Before at the start of this post. The one inspired by Mr Reilly and Mr Darcy. I will plant some of my character actor Bintjes here.

As the shoots come up I'll cover them. In fact, I covered them this morning. As they grow, I'll increase my Flying Buttresses and add more soil to a depth of about twelve inches.
I've heard a lot of differing opinions on when to harvest potatoes. Some say they are ready when the plant flowers, others say to pinch the flowers off so they don't put any energy into flowering, still others say to steal the new potatoes until fall, then harvest the plant. I won't tell you what to do because chances are I'll decide to do something completely different, and you'll wonder why I say one thing then do another. So all I'll say is this: use Flying Buttresses. They are a Good Thing, to use the words of my friend Martha.
Gratuitous pansy shot. There seems to be a new variety in the shops this spring: Neon Pansy.

Looks purple to me but I'm willing to be amazed by the idea that it's a neon colour.

Whatever it is, it's very pretty.
Chives, breaking through their papery skin.

These flowers are delicious tempura-ed.
And lilacs. I love lilacs. They smell like spring, they look fresh and bold, and if you have a bush in front of an open window you have the added benefit of the scent wafting about your house.

There you go, a little pre-Mother's Day treat for you. What's up in your garden?


Heather said...

Potatoes, bricks and...Mr.Darcy. Remarkable how he can work his way into almost any conversation. Your garden is looking gorgeous, as usual.

We just planted our second planting of potatoes (100lbs) and have 100 pounds more of Red Norland and Sieglinde to go in soon. Today I'm planting about 120 feet of German Fingerling.

sheila said...

And I like how you work your OverSower Obsession into a market garden, so casually, just like that. LOL!

I have a measly 40 potatoes. But I'm not selling them!

Do you channel your inner Eliot?

Samantha said...

What if Mr. Reilly was in a white shirt (wet?), talking with Mr. Darcy's pretty words? Then would you run to him? What if Mr. Reilly offered you help in the garden? (That would do it for me. I'd forget Mr. Darcy all together if Mr. Reilly showed up with his work boots on and said, "What do you need me to do? I can dig and plant and weed all day." Oh, how my priorities have changed.)

Your garden looks to be a little bit ahead of mine. My lilacs are starting to flower, but yours look to be flowering, which is my favourite time to be out in the garden. They smell so lovely. Right now all that coming up is my dandelions. They are looking fabulous though - so healthy and strong! Let me know if you need any dandelion seeds and I can collect them for you.