The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Potato Head

home-grown-potatoes Danny is enjoying tending his potato bed. At the moment it just is tweaking the drip feed watering system from our water butts so that his seed potatoes are perfectly irrigated every day. Somehow he managed to nick the first and strongest spur of drip pipe for his bed.

Needless to say the spur that led to john Coe’s potato patch was a much weaker affair and there was a blockage somewhere in the pipe. I’ve been watering John’s spuds and the broad beans by hand.

We returned home from an excellent lunch party today and I took the blocked drip pipe apart. I huffed and puffed down the slim pipes. Then I tackled them with a balloon pump and finally a bicycle pump. After an hour of fiddling, some black earthy grunge gurgled out of the pipe and all was working well again.

Danny used to help his father plant potatoes back in Ireland. He hated it.
“It was freezing in the biting March east wind. I’d much rather have been curled up beside the fire with a good book.”

Suddenly he’s discovered that if you plant and tend your own potatoes it’s a totally different experience. He inspects his ridges every day now. The hero of Potato Growing – the movie rather than just being an extra in someone else’s film.

This evening I was weeding John Coe’s rows and noticed that one potato plant was peeping through already. They did go in a week before Danny’s. I wonder when D will spot that his rival is edging ahead.


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9 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Jane

    Great to hear from you and apologies that I have appeared to skim over your comment.

    You were right to dig up your over wintered spuds as they would hold the dreaded Blight.

    Good luck with your beans.

    Meanwhile I’m determined that D’s (and J’s spuds) are a success. They will be blight free even if I have to spray them with my precious Vodka!

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Michelle

    I come from along line of enthusiastic gardeners. In fact my paternal grandmother’s parents ran a nursery garden on the Shetland Islands in the late 1800’s.

    However, I hated gardening as a child. It just took too long and weeding was so boring. I grew up in lovely gardens – my mum is a talented gardener but only got the bug when I was 35.

    Now I couldn’t imagine a life without gardening. It’s my therapy and my joy.

    Hello Steel

    You are so right. Inspecting the crops (if they are doing well) is a joy. If there’s a problem they earlier that you tackle it the faster you will solve it.

    Hello Sylvie

    Yes we are so lucky. We have space. If times got very tough we could accommodate a pig and a couple of goats.

    The boundaries of the kitchen garden are increasing every year. Home grown veg taste so much better. I also have discovered that spending an hour or so in my vegetable patch is truly therapeutic. Planning, harvesting and always preparing for the future.

    Hello Heidi

    I’ve heard that you use a maximum of three spuds per bag. One spud if it’s a bucket.

    That’s a great picture. Your Dad tending the veg in your front garden. It must have been a bit stressful for him as everyone would be looking over the fence to watch the progress of the vegetables!

    Hi Toffeeapple

    Hopefully Danny will harvest his spuds. We have lost all our spuds to blight over the last two wet summers so fingers and toes crossed.

    Hi Alex

    All has been taken in, eventually I pointed out the leaves of John’s plants. Danny planted his a week later so he hopes that potato leaves will appear in his border on Bank Holiday Monday. Meanwhile they are being watered every night and cosseted. So are John’s spuds – can’t have favourites yet.

  3. Potato head – more like potato wars when Danny finds out about his rival! Mind you, when he tastes them all will be forgotten I’m sure…

  4. I am so envious that you have got your irrigation up and running. Ours is still in the garage, where it’s been since we moved in here 18 months ago…
    This year has been weird weather-wise hasn’t it? A couple of months ago (it seems) I dumped a load of well-rotted horse manure on the pristine brown earth that was my cleared vegetable patch. Yesterday, I began the first part of my annual attempt to pay some chiropractor’s children’s school fees by clearing a few square feet of said vegetable patch from the mountains of buttercups, nettles, plantain and other interesting native species, all of which seem to have underground runners. I cleared enough of a space to plant some beans. Then I noticed some leaves. Those look like potatoes, I thought. If I’d had any sense, I’d have left them where they were, but I was in full-on dig it up mode. They were potatoes, growing from a potato I’d forgotten from last year. I thought about replanting it, but then I remembered the potato blight from last year, and my vow only to plant potatoes in orange B and Q buckets which can sit somewhere out of the rain. I hope Danny’s are a million times more successful. There is nothing so good as a freshly picked, washed under the tap to get the skin off, bunged in a saucepan and covered in butter new potato. Good luck with them!

  5. Toffeeapple

    Oh, the thrill of growing your own, Danny will be so pleased when you get to eat the first crop.

  6. I hope Danny won’t be too upset when he finds out!
    I’m trying my potatoes in potato bags space is limited so I’m not too sure how they will turn out.

    We had a large front garden when I was little that my dad did all his planting in as our back garden was a small triangular shaped affair.
    Watching him tend his plot was always comforting to me.

  7. I love reading your posts about everything that goes on in your garden. I so wish i had one myself. I’ve just put myself on an allotment waiting list, but it could be a while.

  8. I’m like Danny, out there every day inspecting the crops. It’s the only way to keep on top of everything and pounce on problems swiftly.

  9. michelle sheets

    I’m with Danny, when you are the one doing the planting, weeding, and growing, it is very different.
    I remember when I was a kid we lived next door to my grandparents, and my grandfather would plant 2 huge gardens, and the things he would grow we couldn’t keep up with eating.
    I am very sad to say we let a lot of food go bad because there was just so much, and my grandfather would get mad. My grandparents lived through the depression so they were very waste-not-want-not people.
    But,I am happy to say now I have a garden and fruit trees (even blueberries!) of my own, and I try my hardest to let very little go to waste.
    I have a funny feeling my grandfather is laughing at me, since I would hide when it was time to weed, and now its a relaxing thing for me so I don’t mide it at all.

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