Tatties signal start of Shoogly veg season

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The Shoogly Towers raised beds are ready for action. Gamford has been quietly, and relentlessly, filling them with compost lovingly barrowed across the vast acreage from our three doughty compost bins.

It is lovely, sweet-smelling stuff with the consistency of the crumbly bit of an apple crumble, only soft. So not like crumble at all, really. But just the job.

Next on the agenda was ruthless removal of the ground elder which had started to creep in. This involves lots of careful digging and eagle eyes, to spot every single teeny tiny length of root which, if left, will soon blossom into a new, vigorous plant.

I hate the stuff. I am sure I am not alone in this.

I have heard that when the leaves are very young and tender they make an excellent baby leaf-type salad, but please Google this before trying it, just in case I’m wrong and you end up in the BGH.

Our raspberry canes started off in the end of one bed, now they are in both.

I am not quite sure how that happened.

I now enjoy an annual race to see if I can actually pick any and eat them before the blackbirds, who last year enjoyed a fine diet of raspberries and blackcurrants, stealing as many almost-ripe raspberries as they could before I got to them and stripping the blackcurrant bush bare.

One day I checked my beautiful blackcurrant bush – as I often did, in anticipation of one day tasting its fruit - which I had lovingly raised from a bare twig.

Oh joy! It was heaving with blackcurrants and I made a mental note to return in a day or two with a bowl. A couple of days later, not a berry left. To mis-quote Sir Henry of Rawlinson’s End, I hope it gave them the liquorice for weeks.

And so back to the beds, and the meticulous prep. Today, Gamford decided to plant the first of the Potato Day tatties, the Early varieties ‘Winston’ and ‘Foremost’. Hopefully, Winston will do well, battling blight and defeating all insect enemies, and Foremost isn’t so named because all you get when you harvest them is four tatties at the most.

I am pleased to report that the Miami Vice poster anti-vermin campaign seems to have been a great success, as all mouse-nibbling of seedlings has stopped and I am now sowing vegetable seed with confidence.

Or maybe it was because I put the lids on the seed trays. But the pictures did give a nice 80s vibe and the pastel colours of Crockett and Tubbs wedge-shouldered suits did go well with the white-washed walls of the greenhouse. Coolio.