About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Gardening in a gale

It's been ferociously windy here for the last few days, but the garden needs attention, so I ventured out this afternoon. On the advice of a neighbour, I earthed up the potatoes:

Potatoes, more or less earthed up

It felt wrong, burying plants, but I know it's worth doing. It makes them put out roots from the stem, which makes them easier to harvest. More importantly, it protects them from frost, which could still happen here for the next month or so. With the lovely warm weather we've had (and lots of watering), the plants had grown quite big already, so I had trouble heaping up enough earth to cover some of them. Actually, I'm not entirely sure they need burying completely, but I think that's what my neighbour said. Hopefully what I've done will offer some protection, anyway.

The peas sown outdoors were getting tall enough to need some support, so I put up some canes and hung bits of string from the frame. I say 'hung' - they were all weighted down with stones, and some of them blew around even so.

Peas with newly erected supports. Lots of weeds, too.

Emboldened by the success of this operation, I decided to plant out some of the peas from the greenhouse, too. The plan is to use offcuts of the laburnum we moved earlier in the year as central supports for rings of pea plants. The first step was to extract a laburnum offcut, which was easier said than done, but achieved without resorting to hacking the whole lot to pieces.

I then examined the peas in the greenhouse.

Roots desperately seeking soil

Oops. I should have kept a closer eye on these. The whole point of the newspaper pots is that the roots don't like being disturbed!

I stuck the extracted piece of laburnum in the ground, and pea plants around it. I felt they might not reach the twiggy bits without some help, so I tied some string between the twigs and the ground, and it all looked fine...

... for about five minutes until a big gust of wind spun the whole thing round.

Not so successful. I'm not going to try fixing that until the wind drops a bit. Oh well, at least the peas are in the ground now.


  1. Another reason to earth up potatoes is to prevent light getting to the stems otherwise you end up with green spuds.

    Bertie White (of 2CV fame)

  2. Cheers, Bertie :-)

    I've seen that said elsewhere, but I'm a bit puzzled by it. In the past I've planted spuds fairly deeply and not earthed up. I found the actual potatoes grew in the ground, well away from the light and in no danger of going green. I'm a bit worried with earthing up that they'll grow out sideways from the stem and end up pushing out into the open air, so in more danger of greenness. I'll just have to wait and see, but next year I may go back to my old way of growing them - just stick 'em in the ground and leave 'em alone!

  3. I understand that it's as much of the stem that you want to prevent light getting to - not the spuds themselves. If you plant deeper, then yes they will need less earthing up but more energy to "break cover". If you plant more shallow, it's easier for the tuber to grow but will require earthing up later. 6 & 2/3's I suppose.



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