Enjoying some variety

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Rhubarb, white beetroot and new potatoes

Some weeks, it seems like the garden has a one track mind: all cabbage all the time, all silverbeet, all snowpeas.

So it’s nice to be able to pull a mix of things out of the garden, and to cook them all for dinner an hour later. In this case, we harvested three stalks of rhubarb, a white beetroot and handful of new potatoes (ranging from tiny to full-sized).

From these, I cooked:

  • chicken baked with rhubarb (a Scandinavian recipe, odd but good!)
  • grated beetroot cooked with butter (a Stephanie Alexander recipe)
  • baked potatoes

New potatoes

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Our first harvest of new potatoes

As per our post on this year’s potato strategies, we’ve tried a few different things. The potatoes were “bandicooted” out of the potato bags, and were delicious steamed. An encouraging first sign that maybe we’ll have better potato luck this year…

This year’s approach to potatoes

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Last year, I constructed a huge enclosure for our potatoes, built from salvaged fence palings. It didn’t really work, and I suspect it’s because it didn’t drain properly. The potatoes therefore rotted rather than grew.

So, another year, another approach (or two).

The new potato bed, constructed out of chicken wire

The main potato bed has been constructed out of chicken wire, bent around some wooden stakes hammered into the ground. Quite a lot smaller, much simpler to construct, and hopefully better draining!

Two lots of potatoes have been planted:

  • 8 x dutch cream
  • 8 x nicola
Some potato bags, just for an experiment

I also purchased two potato bags, just to see how they go. These are a potentially brilliant solution for those living in flats or units, but let’s see how productive they end up being…

I’ll report back at harvest time.

Bright red radishes

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Bright red French breakfast radishes

These French breakfast radishes are super cute! Baby-sized and bright red, these are ready for the picking. They are also one of Miss P’s favourites.

We’ve got plenty of other root crops in the ground at the moment, some fast-growing but most taking their time:

  • beetroots
  • heirloom radishes (various colours)
  • heirloom carrots (various colours)
  • daikon
  • onions (various)
  • turnips
  • spring onions
  • leeks
  • shallots
  • potatoes (going in soon)

Potatoes in the ground

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Three packets of seed potatoes, waiting for the new garden bed
Three packets of seed potatoes, waiting for the new garden bed

One of the things that I really wanted to try in our first year of gardening was potatoes. So I placed an order with Diggers Club, and six (long!) weeks later I had:

  • 8 x Kipfler seed potatoes
  • 8 x King Edward seed potatoes
  • 8 x Desiree seed potatoes

Now, on reading the notes that came with the potatoes, I quickly realised that I’ve probably ordered too many. Way too many! Apparently each seed potato will generate 10 new potatoes, making 240 potatoes in total. That’s a lot of potatoes.

No matter, better more than less 🙂

Now all that was needed was somewhere to put the potatoes; cue another garden bed. Luckily I rode past some workmen cutting up an old (and somewhat rotted) paling fence, and they were very happy for me to take away what would otherwise be going to the tip.

One car trip later, I pulled together the following supplies:

  • Four pieces of 50×50 treated pine, recycled from under the house and cut into 600mm lengths
  • 24 recycled fence palings, roughly 2m in length
  • weatherproofed phillips head screws

The result was a large 2m x 2m garden bed, with the ability to add extra planks to raise the height of the sides as the potatoes grow. That should increase the size of the harvest.

Potato bed made of recycled fence palings, with room for upwards expansion
Potato bed made of recycled fence palings, with room for upwards expansion

Now came the tricky part, preparing and planting the garden bed. Reading up, I obtained a number of different pieces of advice, not all matching up. If in doubt: make it up, and hope for the best.

This is what I decided to do in the end:

  • thick layer of newspaper
  • layer of straw
  • thin layer of soil and compost
  • potatoes, at 40cm x 40cm spacings
  • mix of soil, compost, straw and cow mature to a depth of 10cm

Now to wait, and hope for the best. I’ll post another photo when the potatoes have sprouted.