Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Last Potato!

After eight volunteer sessions totalling 170 person-hours, we have finally succeeded in filling our potato strip with potatoes! This is a fantastic achievement, only possible thanks to the teams of volunteers who came along throughout March. Apart from ploughing the strip by tractor on January 1st, all the rest has been done by hand, using rakes, forks, trowels, trugs, and tape-measure, with a total of 190kg of seed potato going into the ground.
Almost at the end of the potato strip!
The potatoes, when harvested, will form the foundation of our vegetable-boxes when we start producing them later in the year. We have planted 6 different varieties of potato, namely Pentland Javelin (early earlies), Maris Peer (second earlies), Cosmos, Charlotte (salad potatoes), Ambo, and Sarpo Axona (blight-resistant maincrop potato). We'll be trialling which performs best on the farm, which produces the highest yield, which sells best, and of course which tastes best.
Putting the very last potato in the ground.
When we first began planting potatoes on March 2nd, the far end of the strip seemed very far away indeed, but we edged closer every session, until on March 24th we popped the last potato into the last hole of the last bed, and headed back to the farmhouse kitchen for a deserved cuppa. The celebratory beer arrived two days late, but was worth waiting for!
The potato strip.
There are 49 beds of potatoes in all, each 10m long and 1.2m wide, with 0.5m paths in between the beds, so every part of every bed can be reached for working and weeding without stepping onto the bed. Now all that remains is to finish spreading composted horse manure onto the soil surface...

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