The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The intriguing pc code

Photo:pc calendar count

Photo:pc calendar count

A couple of days ago I noticed that Danny was entering some sort of system on our calendar. The letters pc followed by a number. He’d started this on May 13th and the numbers were gradually rising each day. Was this a good or a bad thing?

What did pc mean? I was very curious indeed.

We share this calendar but I thought I’d give D a bit of space rather than dust off the thumbscrews. Eventually he would spontaneously explain what these annotations mean.

We were engaged with the potato count in his border this evening. It’s become a ritual. We sip a pre-supper drink and examine the ridges carefully.
“I’ve got the gardening bug after all these years,” he confided. “I count the plants each morning too. Sometimes by the evening another leaf has emerged. I wonder whether you’ve noticed the calendar – I note the progress of the bed each day. The numbers relate to the evening count.”

He also added.
“I often wonder if my father did the same, back in Ireland when I was growing up.”
“I bet he did. If you’ve planted something, the draw to see how they are doing is irresistible.”

His father was a teacher who also farmed a five acre smallholding, growing the family’s veg needs (two parents and five surviving children) for the whole year plus keeping a milking cow and a steer or two for added income. Danny always says that this farming was his father’s passion. D  never really was interested when he was growing up but tending someone else’s plot is like shopping for another’s clothes. It can be very dull indeed.

Suddenly D is now growing his own spuds and is excited by the project. If all goes well we can leave them a bit longer in the ground so that they become floury – all potatoes are floury in Ireland and he has a yearning for these.

Fingers crossed that his babies blossom and don’t get blight.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Lindsay

    Wow, you sound busy. Great to hear that you can use half of the older couple’s veg patch.

    We have increased our kitchen garden by a third and now I want to extend it a bit more as we are running out of space already.

    All D’s spuds have now germinated.

    Hello Roger

    Danny loved the Rooster potatoes when someone told me about them. His father planted quite a few varieties including British Queens and King Edwards. I chose Maris Pipers this year as they seem to like our soil. I think that our most successful ultra floury spuds were Rocket. If you leave a floury spud in the ground for a bit longer it will become even more floury (like Roosters). Perhaps I have never tried growing a waxy spud?

    Thanks for setting me straight.

    Hi Michelle

    It’s fun for me to have D interested in what is going on in the Kitchen Garden. We are growing a lot of brassicas this year – interplanted with salad leaves, pack choi etc. Quite a complex system.

    I want to be eating stuff from the kitchen garden all the year round rather than the main focus being away from the winter months.

    The asparagus patch is definitely on the cards since D has tasted freshly cut asparagus from a one of my generous clients.

    Hello Nadia

    I’d love to have a go at biodynamic gardening and use the phases of the moon for planting. I must look into this. I clearly sewed my leek seeds at the wrong time as only two have germinated!

    Hello KarenO

    My favourite times are going down to feed the chickens and open the greenhouse in the morning and watering and examining the beds when I return from work in the evening.

    I think that we all need (including the land) a good summer with just enough rain to keep the water butts topped up and refresh the plants.

    Danny’s spuds are catching up with John’s. So I’m going to feed John’s tomorrow!

  2. karenO

    I know just what you mean – I check everything morning and evening – just in case. Potatoes are like magic ….. you wait & wait and then little leaves appear and suddenly they’re great bushes! Just hope we have a drier summer & less blight. It might ‘dry up’ the slugs too!

    All the best for Danny’s potatoes.

  3. nadia

    i love danny’s potato count code, that’s really sweet! my mr m. also has his own calendar just for the allotment with all things signalled on it, and the various phases of the moon.

  4. Michelle in NZ

    pc = potato count – wonderful! I hope for your own sake that this is just the start of Dannny’s gardening enjoyment.

    And that the asparagus patch dreams and plans come true.

  5. Roger Sanderson

    I must admit to counting emerging potato shoots,and lots of other calender events (first Swallow,Cuckoo& warblers).
    Surely the flouryness depends on the variety,such types as Estima, King Edward, Maris Piper, Desiree,and my favourite Rooster, are the best for fluffy mashed potato.I have recently been finding Epicure and Charlotte as I dug my patch and they are still edible and waxy,after a winter in the ground.

  6. Lindsay

    We used to grow a lot of potatoes at our previous house – we never had to buy any from year to year. We are delighted to being able to help an old couple down the road who have a very large veg garden – we have filled our half with potatoes – earlies = mid season – lates, purple sprouting brocolli, carrots, onions (red baron), beetroot and french beans. In our own small veg plot we have lettuce, spinach, broad beans, onions, land cress, french beans, carrots and spring cabbage and will have runner beans. Yum Yum!

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