Saturday, 19 April 2014

Blighted by failure

Here's the thing.
I have had allotments for more than a decade. I love growing stuff. Mostly I manage to make stuff grow! But I am hopeless at growing potatoes....
I always have an excuse - it's too hot. It's too cold. It's too humid. my soil is too clay. Too acidic. Not acidic enough. They were cheap seed potatoes. But actually, between ourselves, I just don't seem to have the knack.
Every year I try a different method. Trenches, wrapping them in newspaper, manuring, not manuring,  throwing in a few slug pellets.....
Doesn't make any difference.
 My potatoes get blight or refuse stubbornly to flower. Or some horrible beastie puts precise holes all the way through the middle of each potato. Or slugs just gorge themselves on the whole crop.
Bwwwahahaha lads, she's going to try growing us again!
Now, don't talk to me about your fancy-pants potato-sack growing system, they DO work and i have managed to grow a couple of pounds worth of salad spuds in them but they are more of a ''grow something on your patio'' sort of thing. And don't flaunt your lovely raised beds at me - I don't have the money to buy them or the expertise to make them.
I have an old-school allotment, with masses of soily space, crying out to be filled with row upon row of perfect potatoes.
But come harvesting time, I am always doomed to disappointment.
On the other plots all over the allotment, people gleefully wheel their barrowfuls of perfect pink-blushed potatoes, super-sized spuds and beautifully brown bakers, ready to store over winter and help fulfill that fantasy of urban self-sufficiency.... Not me. Ah no. I manage a panful of pathetically tiny, stunted ones which will be the size of marbles by the time I have pared the damaged bits off.
Then - no matter what variety I go for - the potato will remain rock hard when cooking before suddenly in a split second, reducing to mush.
The other month I bought a massive sack of potatoes in a well-known discount supermarket for £3.99. We are still wading through them and they have proved fabulously versatile in cooking.
Perfect potatoes - The Dream.....
I compare that to the £5.99 I have spent on 20 seed potatoes - guaranteed to be blight-free, eel worm free, easy to be grown by idiots. They even helpfully enclose a How To guide.
I have read it carefully and in a triumph of optimism over experience, planted them out yesterday on Good Friday, in keeping with gardener tradition.
I'll let you know......!

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