Monday, 17 August 2009

free potoatoes update

A couple of weeks ago I had some potatoes that were sending up small shoots, chitting, in their basket under my hand-made kitchen trolley.

David was, at that time, carting carefully sieved top soil down to the bottom of the garden where all the hard core had been stored. It's amazing how much space had been taken up by the sprawling mass of broken bricks, concrete, tiles etc.

The top soil was in bags which had contained a ton or so of sand from the building of the vegetable beds. Huge things, about a square metre, I suppose - like giant's shopping bags.

In previous years I have tried the trick of planting one potato in a bucket in summer, earthing up the shoots as they appear for a few weeks until the bucket is full, then by Christmas, voila - a bucketfull of lovely new potatoes.

This time, the giant sacks of top soil are taking the place of the buckets - a huge experiment. The top photo is of the growth so far - quite impressive, I think you'll agree.

The second photo is of a further batch, in a second bag, with just a couple of shoots through so far, but encouraging, nonetheless :) It's surprising how dark the new leaves are, and how prickly their appearance.

As the grow, they become paler, and no longer look quite so spiky. I showed you a photo of their flowers in an earlier blog, but here it is again, for those of you who didn't read it. Such a pretty, star-like flower, these are pink, some are more white. The flowers will become berries - DO NOT EAT the berries, they are poisonous!

Isn't it strange that a plant that provides one of our staple foods, the potato, below the ground, grows poisonous foliage, flowers and berries above the ground?

I wonder if this is a protective measure on the part of the plant? If that which grows above ground is poisonous, it won't be eaten, and it thus protects the hidden tuber swelling below the ground - its own food-store for the next year. A mystery!

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