Friday, November 6, 2009

purple spuds


I'm just trying to distract myself from the horrendous (and unjust) bank charges I've just discovered in my bank account (which, rest assured, someone will be getting an earful for on Monday), so I'm going to think about potatoes instead. The front garden of our terraced flat was basically a weed patch. I'd optimistically installed a hawthorn hedge when we moved in (3 years ago), and a few other scraggy bits of hedging have found their way onto the patch since then, but basically it was heavily compacted complete with some serious clods of clay. It annoyed me that the land was wasted (and ugly), but at the same time it was a tough habitat to start with and not very relaxing to work on, being on the road. I concocted a plan...

We spent a considerable amount of time weeding the patch and something had to be planted to keep the weeds down so our work wouldn't be wasted. Because of the compaction though there was really only one candidate - potatoes. They'd break up the soil and hopefully keep the weeds down a bit, who knows, we might even get a crop (not that we got anything out of our new potatoes on the veg patch after the cats dug them up and killed them).

So I went down the new fangled minituber route - grown in a lab. Three varieties: 5 tubers of Fortyfold; 5 tubers of Champion; 10 tubers of Congo. The patch isn't great, doesn't get much sun, and the spuds were almost entirely neglected once put in. No extra watering, no fertiliser of any kind and only one attempt at some half-hearted earthing up. However, surprisingly enough, we did get crop! 2.02kg of Fortyfold (the star performer), 1.16kg of Congo (0.58kg relatively) and 0.85kg of Champion. Unclear whether Fortyfold was so good because of plot position (getting the most sun) or variety, but I'm pretty sure Congo is not a high yielding variety - it's more for the intense purple colour, which runs right the way through.

spudsstraight from the ground.

spudsin the pan, turning the water bright green.

spudsa better view of the spectacular blue-green colour. Sadly my inexperienced clueless dying experiment with a scrap of unbleached muslin (shoved in a pot of the water) yielded no stain.

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