Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy Tiredness

The great potato heist last week and I forgot to even mention it. Normally we do potatoes in the school holidays so as to have every available pair of hands on deck, age no matter. It takes 3 or 4 days of hard slog. Somebody normally puts on morning or afternoon tea and off we all go in the trailer on the back of the tractor. It keeps everybody together and helps keep the impetus up. I always associate it with the holidays and that holiday feel of happy tiredness.

This year for various reasons we had a stupendous harvest, which as the potato inner circle grows, is a good thing but the prospect of digging, scrabbling, sorting, bagging loomed large. Enter the potato digger, thus, which was pulled out of Margaret's garden where it had done 20 years as a garden feature; some fine tuning; we'll never look back. I felt like the tailor on Fidder on the Roof who gets a sewing machine after a life time of stitching by hand and the whole village crowds round to marvel at it. It was marvellous alright and the whole job done in less than two days. So quickly in fact that I didn't get photos really.
Now I've had NZ spinach in the glasshouse for two years now, self sown this year, and never used it beyond a casual nibble on site as I water the glasshouse. It's the one spinach that you can eat raw with impunity so that ought to recommend it. I've always considered it to be the canary in the mine shaft. It's frost tender and so when the glasshouse begins to freeze it's the first thing to go and tells me that winter is effectively upon us.

Well thanks for the reminder Christy and I made those fetta and spinach muffins out of the paper last week (for suscribers of the ODT). It created one of those moments when Bill could happily say: 'I married a chef'.
It has been a week in the glasshouse. Digging over the tomato beds one by one, one a day to keep the job manageable. I straighten up after a good workout and consider that once again, the gym room remains unused. I've had my session for the day and I know it. Now tomatoes are narcissistic; they like themselves, their own company and their own compost, made of them. The main thing is to take good note of which bin they are going into so that it goes back to them next year, even as a rough mulch.
The ground has had nothing done to it for a long time and is in a sorry state. The clods break open to reveal worms coiled up into a tangled ball, hibernating amidst drought and barrenness. I'm covering each bed with pony poo and will sow oats here too. The masterplan (gardeners always have master plans that stretch out into the distance, bigger and better) is to use broad beans next year for the winter cover crop because they are an excellent soil conditioner and dug into the ground, they destroy the bacteria that cause tomato wilt. Yes, you read it here.
This year I'm growing the broad beans to get truck loads of seed.

The birds this year are very hungry and I'm going to have to start netting. There were no Rowan berries, because of late frosts, and they have eaten all my peas up, not one sprout and are ravaging the oats both seed and seedlings. Could they not pick caterpillars off the cabbages? (No, gobbling up my seedlings, here the four seasons lettuce.) One disadvantage of a proprietary pest kill spray is that when you run out, the pests reappear with a vengeance and if I'm not quick there will be no cabbage left to eat. I can hear the sighs of disappointment, mine are genuine.

I have to put in a photo of the romanesco broccolli, on the right. She's the cover girl of the vegetable world. Looking up her records I see the seed was planted on the 1st of December and the photo, just about the 1st of May, 5 months old. It is well worth noting that this is by far the best of eight, and same thing happened last time I grew them: one really good one and the rest stragglers. They ought to prove a good indicator crop of soil fertility and gardening prowess so I can only aim for a better tally and keep growing them. Until next week then...


  1. Photos missing alert! Photos missing alert!

  2. thanks Jen. Sometimes the computer just won't do what I ask, it comes back with a 'no'. I thought I checked the photos after posting but perhaps not. Will post photos seperately... again, which is about my skill level.