Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Liesl and The Herbs.

More allotment.

This is Bed M1(a) when I'm writing up my allotment notes. Yes I'm anal enough to have kept a yearly Plotter's Diary for the thirteen years I've run this allotment. The science training must have stuck somehow. And as I have twenty-six raised beds of various sizes on the allotment it's easiest to number them. M1(a) means Main Plot Bed One, and as a few years ago I split this into two shorter beds I now have M1(a) and M1(b). These two beds are both 4' wide by 8' long so are still decent sized beds but easier to fit into the crop rotation. I've got eleven this size, plus a couple of smaller ones and thirteen 4'x 16' ones if anyone is interested.

M1(a) used to be the main herb bed but it got taken over by two very thuggish lemon verbena bushes, a couple of dozen feverfew seedlings and a generous sprinkle of couch grass so really, it was due for a good clear out.

The three tiny survivors up the top end are a couple of oregano plants and a small patch of chives. I used to have a chive border right round this bed but the recent hard frosts have killed most of it off.

It's a nice sheltered bed (it's next to the hut) so I decided to put my collection of ancient cold frames on it this year. Scruffy? These all came out of various neighbours' skips, must admit. I don't bother using the lids as they just blow off in the windy allotment. The environmesh is just as effective and I don't have to vent or water the frames in summer. I'll let the soil settle here for a couple of weeks, skim off any new weeds and plant up some early carrots and salads in these.

Found some real treasure when I was digging this bed. Yes, two minuscule potatoes. Normally when I find rogue potatoes I roll my eyes at not digging out the potato crop properly last year, as rogue leftovers harbour disease. But these are not any old potatoes. These are Mr Little's Yetholm Gypsy can tell by the two-colour mottling on the skins.

I haven't grown this variety in what...eight years? Not since the whole lot got harvested and eaten by mistake by one of my summer plot-sitters. They are special spuds though. The variety is a really old one, dating from 1899 and it is (or was) the only tri-coloured (red and blue-black mottling on a white skin) potato variety in existence. It was thought lost for many decades until a few years back when a a handful of tubers were found in Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, growing in a compost heap. The tubers were taken off to the local agricultural labs and propagated using micro propagation techniques in order clean them up of all the viruses they were carrying. For a while they were only available to the home grower as micro propagated plants and I remember buying three of the plants for some silly price at the Borders Potato Day. I coddled them on in pots for a year, then grew them as an allotment crop for a couple of year, then they all got scoffed by accident and I didn't have the heart to start over again with them. So coming across these two tiny survivors are like finding buried treasure imho and I'm pleased at the thought of growing from my long lost original line again. Only a fellow vegetable grower would understand why this is so thrilling though!!!

Liesl is coming on well. I have got to six inches below the armpits. I decided to omit the garter ridges after the armpit divide and you can see below how this changes the look of the knitted fabric a lot. I do like Noro + Feather & Fan.

(Excuse the vile effect of Princess's dressing gown under the knitting. I needed a tailor's form to show the shape of the knitting properly and she was the first thing handy!)


Hat said...

I totally understand your joy at finding those potatoes. Liesl is looking great and isn't it a swift knit?

Linda said...

Liesl is looking awesome! I need a dress form to check ebay.

Kocurek said...

I never thought that there are so many varieties of potatoes.
I was surprised here in Scotland is much different potatoes, different colors and shapes.
I admire you, I the gardener is not fit. My father is very good at this:))
Liesl is lovely.

Jude said...

I completely understand your joy at finding the potatoes. I love a challenge of growing something from a 'found' thing or a challenge. My banana seedling travelled on holiday with us last year as I did not trust anybody to look after it.
Every time I read your blog now, I read it in your voice since I met you.

Jude said...

I completely understand your joy at finding the potatoes. I love trying to grow things from 'found' seeds or suchlike. Last year a banana seedling travelled on holiday with us as I did not trust anybody to look after it.
Since meeting you, I read your blog in your voice !

fireythreads said...

the potatoe looks interestiong we tried blue potatoes and black tomatoes last year but our weater was not right I did get lot sof baby yellow tomatoes but that was ll that was differnt. how do you cook those potates are they good for certain way. love your knitting and feather andfan si so specail any way.

zippiknits said...

Our daughers checked their allotments and found a good size parth of arugala that made it through the winter, Tiny plants with the first leaves and all of an eigth inch high.

When you go to the farmers markets where they live you can fund many potatoes in so many colors and quite small. I hope you can regrow your potato crop; those are beautiful little potatoes. Lucky find!

zippiknits said...

I am decidedly blind as a bat late at night, that's my excuse, plus a tiny black keyboard doesn't help! lol