Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

St. Patrick’s Day.

In Ireland, sustainable living on March 17, 2012 at 12:02 am

The evening sky last night was just beautiful…like flames in the clouds. Sky like this usually means a good day follows. Even though this sky isn’t quite red I’m reminded of the old saying,  “red sky at night shepherd’s delight, red sky in morning sailor’s warning.” Many people will be hoping for good weather today as it is of course St. Patrick’s Day. Every town will have parades and festivities. Dublin of course has the largest parade with bands coming from all over the world.

We shall keep to our own tradition and stay at home, watch some of the Dublin parade on the TV and then plant our early Potatoes. We have been to many St. Patrick’s Day parades so we don’t feel we are missing out. Actually this has been our tradition for about 10 years now.  It’s good to make new traditions! What do you think?

As children we were always happy to see St. Patrick’s Day coming round. As it usually fell during Lent, it meant we could have a break from whatever we had “given up” for that day. Many of the men would’nt take any alcohol during Lent but most would take a break on this day. 

The day before the national feast day we would be sent out to the fields to look for shamrock,  “not clover, shamrock” my Father would say. Clover and shamrock are alike but clover has a much bigger leaf with white specks on the green. Shamrock has small little green leaves. Of course nowadays everyone buys shamrock in the supermarket but that is a relatively new phenomenon.

Patrick is still a common name in Ireland and of course round the world now. Padraig, Pauric, Paid, Paidi and Paidin are all common derivations of the name. The female form of Patrick is Patricia, this is said to have begun in Scotland in the eighteenth century.

So while we are happily planting our spuds here in Arigna may we wish you all, wherever you may be, a very happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Spuds and Flowers @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening on September 1, 2011 at 6:51 am

Every year we grow some Potatoes in bags. A few inches of compost in the bottom of a sack, holes in bag to allow drainage, pop in 3 or 4 Potatoes per bag, cover with compost and there you have it. The ones above are Sarpo Mira. They were topped up with compost twice as they grew. They were not treated for blight and only now are they getting some spots on leaves.

They were harvested last week and as you can see there were lots of lovely little pink potatoes to be gathered. We emptied the bags into the wheelbarrow for easy access.

This lot is from one bag which contained 3 seed Potatoes. The Potatoes are small but I do find the bags don’t produce big Spuds.

This is the total from the 4 bags, a little over 10 lbs. Not bad for very little effort, delicious little organic Potatoes from our own garden.

The resulting barrowload of compost was used to top up one of the veg beds.  I love little garden experiments like this, it proves you can grow spuds anywhere even without a garden.

In the long border this pink Astible is blooming,

and outside the polytunnel this container of Cosmos continues to provide colour. I love Cosmos and will save seeds from these for next years crop.

Saturday Ponderings from the Arigna Valley.

In arigna, Gardening on June 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Catmint and Lady’s Mantle looking good together,   Foxgloves looking on. It is said that blue and green should not be seen together. This gives the lie to that.

The Tomatoes are doing well in the small polytunnel. I do find lettuce  is going to seed very quickly this year, probably due to the unsummery weather. The only outside crops doing well are Onions and Potatoes, the rest are just sitting there looking miserable. Thank goodness for polytunnels!

In the back field the Sycamore stands strong and proud, oblivious to all weathers. Sycamore is not native to Ireland but it has naturalised and self seeds itself profusely.

Facing West just outside the back door is Ganesh, a present from our friends Paul and Debra who visited last weekend from Co. Clare. Is’nt he fab? Ganesh is said to be the remover of obstacles. I think he has his work cut out for him here. The biggest obstacle, as regular visitors will know, facing us here in the north west is the threat of the destruction of the land in search of gas. The process called fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is the only one that can be used to extract the gas from the shale rock we have here. If this happens it will leave a trail of destruction. Water sources destroyed, land and air polluted, an industrialised landscape instead of the amazing untamed wildness we now have. I am still stunned that our government would even contemplate letting this happen. But it seems they have. Maybe Ganesh will be successful!!

Saturday Morning Musings from Prospect Cottage.

In Animals, arigna, Cooking, Gardening, sustainable living on June 11, 2011 at 11:13 am

The Potatoes in the polytunnel are flowering. These are Colleen a fast growing, first early variety with good disease resistance. The tubers are oval shaped with light yellow flesh. As potatoes are ready to harvest 10 days after flowering these will be ready for use by Summer Solstice. Great!

The sedums planted in this old cast iron queenie stove have spread nicely and are starting to flower. I love these easy care plants that seem to thrive on neglect.

This is a pic of our house taken from the back field. I love how it is nestled into the valley and seemingly dwarfed by the big Sycamore on the left. You can just see the tops of the polytunnels on the left.

Just behind the house is this chalet built by Andy, about 5 years ago, from Spruce and Larch felled on our own land. We use this as a workroom and as a spare bedroom and storage area.

Sheila’s Crazy Horse Cake is a delicious vegan cake I made yesterday. I got the recipe from an American woman called Sheila who lived, with her husband Brendan, in this area for a few years. She was vegetarian all her life, never tasted meat, and had a great selection of cookery books. Whenever I make this Crazy Horse Cake I always think of her and joy she had for life. They returned to America for family reasons and we never heard from them again. I wonder where they are now?

Growing the Humble Spud @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, sustainable living on May 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

The Potatoes which we planted in the polytunnel in April, covering with rushes instead of soil, (see post of 11th April), have come on well. They are Sarpo Mira, bred by the Sarvani family in Hungary, who have been breeding blight and virus resistant potatoes for over 50 years. In the coming week these will be mulched with more rushes. I had thought the rushes might be a hiding place for slugs but that has’nt happened, the frogs in the polytunnel must be doing their work well!

The potatoes which were planted outside in bags on St. Patrick’s Day, (see post of 21st March), are doing great. They have been topped up with compost a few times and hopefully there will be a good crop. We usually have the first of the earlies at the Summer Solstice. Less than a month to go! Organic seed, growing organically.

While on the topic of the humble Spud I have been reading about Greenpeace’s battle to stop BASF, the biotech giant, from planting the GM potato Amflora in Sweden. This Potato was approved for planting by the EU in 2010 without any independent studies done on it’s safety. There are worries that the Potato contains a gene which produces an enzyme which gives resistance to several antibiotics.  Amflora’s main use is for potato starch which is used in the production of paper, packaging and adhesives. The Potato will not enter the human food chain is the company claim. However, the recycling of the waste from the starch production IS permitted to be used in animal feeds. Surely some of these animals will be part of the food chain for people who consume meat? Worrying indeed!!

Meanwhile in Sweden the police came to the warehouse where the protest was happening and arrested each and every individual there. They were later released and returned to continue the blockade. I find it amazing that police forces all over the World are at the beck and call of these corporations.

Check out the full story on

Production and growth @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, sustainable living on April 18, 2011 at 8:02 am

3 Cauliflowers ready for harvesting.

There has been incredible growth in the last week. We were away from Tuesday to Saturday but it felt more like 2 weeks from the growth spurt that occured. Cauliflower to cook, cauliflower to freeze and more to come.

Tomato plants.

The Tomatoes are ready for planting out. I’m sure they grew a few inches last week! These will be planted in the small tunnel later in the week. They will be fed with farmyard manure, dug in under each plant at planting time, later when the first trusses have set they will get a weekly feed of a nettle and comfrey liquid fertiliser which we make ourselves. The farmyard manure as well as feeding the plant also helps to retain moisture.

Early Potatoes.

The Potatoes planted in sacks on St. Patrick’s Day have come on well. Today I will top up with more compost to encourage more Potatoes to form on the stems.

Damson in flower.

Yippee, at long last the Damson is flowering. I’m really pleased about this as I grew this tree from a stone of a wild Damson which grows locally. That was about 6 years ago, so, yes, patience does pay off. Much more gratifying than buying a tree from the garden centre ready to go.

Mrs. Perry in bloom!

This little tree I bought 2 years ago, it was just a whip. It is called Mrs Perry and I bought it on a visit to Irish Seed Savers in Clare. It is a self-rooter so I might take some cuttings from it in the Autumn. The fruit is dual-purpose and ripens in September, apples said to be very juicy and the tree is an abundant cropper.

Spring Equinox.

In Gardening on March 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm

So here we are at Spring Equinox already. I love this time of year. One is filled with anticipation of the coming Summer, warmer weather and of course the abundance of the garden and hedgerows. This is the real first day of Spring. Of course this one is extra special because of the full Moon which was incredible. Apparently it’s the closest the Moon has been to earth in 800 years. We have the lenghtening days to look forward to and each day the Sun is gaining strength.

In the polytunnel the Peach tree has sent forth its first blossom. Oooh, the joy of a fresh peach from one’s own garden. Last year we had about 40 peaches. They were so different from the hard tasteless ones available in the supermarket. So juicy and delicious, it was heavenly to go out and pick a fresh peach for breakfast.

As has become our tradition we planted potatoes on St. Patrick’s. Three varieties: May Queen, Epicure and Sharpe’s Express were planted in bags. We had five of each variety which we got from Seed Savers in Scariff as a bonus of our membership.

Old compost bags were used, about six inches of garden compost placed in the bottom, potatoes on top, then a couple more inches of compost. As the potatoes grow more compost is added until the bag is full. If you are going to try this turn the bag inside out. The bags are usually black inside so this draws and holds the heat better. Don’t forget to put some holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage.