Thursday, 21 August 2014

Playing Chicken with Potatoes (14/04/13)

Gardeners traditionally planted their potatoes on Good Friday. There appear to be two main reasons for this: one is that Good Friday was a public holiday when gardening could take place (not to be performed on a day of rest), and the second was to do with biodynamics, or planting by the phases of the moon.

Easter is the only Christian festival with a moveable date. Using the phase of the moon, the date is set as the first Sunday following the full moon after the Spring Equinox. Chucking your spuds in the ground then is supposed to give you a more successful crop.

I’m don’t know much about this school of planting, but I’m not sure that biodynamic theories could make allowances for the inches of snow covering the allotment on Good Friday this year. After tenderly nurturing the burgeoning sprouts on my chitting seed potatoes, I wasn’t prepared to lose the lot to a heavy frost (even if I could get down the slope into the site).

I chit my first earlies every year, by standing them in egg boxes on a shelf in the loft. They get some sun & a bit of warmth, but nothing to get them sprouting too soon. This spring, I have been picking off the new sprouts in an attempt to slow down their growth before the ground is warm enough to plant in. If I knock off too many eyes, the growing season (which is already a month behind) will be even more slowed. Playing chicken with potatoes...

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