Well, I didn’t quite manage to get my potatoes in on St Patrick’s Day, but the next morning I threw them into the lazy bed 1ft apart and shoveled loose soil from the path on top.
I’ve started another longer bed and hope to get two more the same length done by the end of March.
That’s if the wind and rain don’t keep discouraging me from going out to the garden. It’s not so much the feel of the wind, more the noise. The way it blusters, then dies down and changes direction drives me a little crazy.
For the new bed I cut the sods a little longer (maybe 60cm instead of 30cm) and flicked them over.
I’ve had a thing for lazy beds over the years (and the types of spades that people would have used to dig them) so today I thought I would give it a go in the garden, or rather a sort of rough version to suit what I need in the garden.
I’m making the path between the ridges pretty wide so I can fit my wheelbarrow and go up to the imaginary compost heap. I also made the ridges 1m across as I want to make them into vegetable beds after the potatoes have broken the soil up a bit.
Anyway, this is my version. First I marked out two long beds (5x1m, 4x1m) and tried to orientate them facing towards the south (i.e. walking down the path in the middle means I walk to the south)
Next I covered the area with some old rotted compost from the far corner of the garden (or at least I hope it is well rotted compost)Ideally I’d bring up some seaweed from down the road and cover it with that.
The ground was pretty hard and it was hard to get a spade in so I used a hammer an axe to cut out ‘segments’ of about 6in x 12 in. The side of the segments that go along the blue rope aren’t cut as the idea (apparently) is to use that as a hinge and flick the sods over. I think this is probably an area when the old spades would have been useful. For instance if I had enough leverage and could cut the sods 12in x 12in and flick it over it would leave less gaps for weeds or grass to grow through.
Flick the sods over on both sides.
I would have finished the ridge yesterday before dark except that I started wondered about the variety of early potatoes that I was about to put in. What about blight? Will they be ready just as we’re going on holidays? Should I pick a different variety? Should I plant main crop instead?
The other thing is that I’ve been told that you should plant your potatoes on St Patrick’s Day and harvest them on the 12th July, which I like as an Irish man. So maybe I’ll wait to Monday before finishing the lazy beds and spend the next couple of days watching rugby and hanging out with friends, making crepes, drawing.
We’re still getting our vegetable box delivered each week but somewhere over the Christmas holidays someone in the house (probably me) bought a 10kg bag of potatoes that has lead to a back log of spuds that need eaten.
I am trying to redeem my relationship with potatoes which means learning to appreciate the hassle of having to wash or peel them and empty them into the compost heap and finding recipes that are a bit more exciting that boiling them or don’t involve adding buckets of butter.
Also recipes that don’t involve using an oven to bake them would be good as that adds extra carbon to the air.
So I gave this recipe for potato and garlic cake, (La Crique) a go and it was tasty in my opinion.
Basically grate 1kg of peeled potatoes.
Beat two eggs with pepper, salt and a garlic clove bashed with some salt.
Mix them all together (I took the clove out as I don’t like discovering a lump of garlic when I don’t expect it).
Heat a frying pan, add 4tbsp of olive oil, spread the mixture over and gently cook for 15mins shaking every so often to stop it sticking.
Turn over when crisp at the bottom and cook for 5
The recipe is in my favourite cook book, European Peasant Cookery by Elizabeth Luard.
Our lives are so busy and ambitious that we often look down on the menial tasks such a peeling potatoes. Often peeling spuds is beneath us, something from the soil that doesn’t really engage our brain and creativity, just a dirty ball of carbohydrate that needs work done to make it useful. I don’t have time for this, I’ve places to go and more important things to do than peeling some potatoes on. Will I stick on some pasta instead?
While peeling potato number 4 I was reflecting on how much work would be involved in peeling and preparing potatoes.
I had Wee Gran in mind, a lady of over 80 who would have much of her life preparing potatoes for the 11 children she raised and my grandfather.
Saying gran took 10mins for potato preparation and had potatoes 6 times a week that would be an hour in potato preparation per week.
That would be 52hrs of potato preparation a year. Gran has been peeling spuds for well over 50 years. Someone like my gran could easily have spent a working year of her life just peeling potatoes.
I guess that while I’m peeling these potatoes I’m wondering on whether our generation has undervalued the dignity and work in household chores or if our lives are just too speedy to even consider such things.