Sunday, 12 May 2013

Spuds, wonderful spuds

Evening all.  After a lovely couple of weeks of sunshine, it's back to being cold and rainy, and the garden seems to have come to a (temporary) grinding halt.  Actually, that's not totally true.  The seeds I've planted are just rather slow coming through which probably means they'll be rather late maturing.  Bare soil is rather boring to look at, but at least it's full of the promise of bounty to come.

Grow your own potatoes
One group of plants that is doing really well however, are the potatoes I got from the Potato Council as part of their free educational "grow your own potatoes" kit for primary schools - which is also available to home educators.

The kit is sent out in February or March, and contains two growing bags, a chitting tray and two different varieties of potato (3 of each).  The object of the exercise is for children to be able to see how their potatoes grow, from starting to chit, through planting, growing and ultimately harvesting and eating.  Varieties received were "Casablanca" and "Rocket".

Planted in early April, both varieties have put on a lot of leaf, leading to us earthing them up again today in the hope of ensuring a good potato crop.

Potatoes can be grown in all sorts of containers, so there's no need for a garden.  You can use growing bags like mine - I saw some in Poundland the other day, which seemed reasonable as they're usually quite a lot more.

Old tyres is another good one - fill one with earth and plant the spuds, then when they've put on about a tyre's height of leaf, add another tyre and fill with soil, leaving just the tops of the leaves poking out.  I believe (although I've not tried this method myself) that you can go up to around 6 tyres high and get a huge crop out of just a few potato tubers.  Many garages are delighted to get rid of a few and if you think they look boring or unsightly, get the kids to help paint them.

Whether you try one of the methods mentioned above, or whether it's large pots, old dustbins (just remember to drill drainage holes in the bottom), or any other reasonable sized container, it's always possible to grow some spuds.  And with food prices rising all the time, there's never been a better time to try growing your own.

Until next time.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Stickey business!

We went out today to visit a nearby farmers' market, a term I use very loosely indeed.  Wakefield Farmers' Market is billed on the local council's website as "a highly attractive Farmers, local produce and craft market".

Well it's certainly the strangest farmers' market I've ever been to.  To my mind, the whole idea of a farmers' market is one which sells produce, be it fruit, veg, meat, dairy produce or anything else grown or raised on a farm.  Local produce should be exactly as the term implies, and crafts should be goods made by a crafts person or artisan.  The whole concept also suggests individuality, yet the stalls, and there weren't many (about a dozen), were all clad alike in the garish purple and green colours emblazoned with Wakefield council's logo.

With the exception of some gorgeous honey from a local bee farmer, sold under the lovely name "Stickeys", there was no locally farmed produce at all.  No fruit, no veg, no dairy, no meats.  A lot of the so-called "crafts" looked like mass produced items rather than hand made, individually created pieces, and all in all, the whole thing was a great disappointment.

Stickey's Honey - the one good thing at Wakefield Farmers Market
It seems like Wakefield's idea of a farmers' market is in keeping with their idea of an indoor market, which they changed from a lovely, if old-fashioned, indoor/outdoor traditional market into a newly built mess which allows only one of anything (no competition) and thus keeps prices artificially inflated.  Nothing like the fantastic markets at Leeds, Doncaster and Barnsley where the competition between traders is one of the things that makes visiting the markets so lovely.  Not to mention the wonderful array of produce which can be bought at them.

Wakefield?  Nil point, you have a very long way to go before you're on the bottom rung of the ladder other Yorkshire markets are on.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Happy birthday

How time flies!  It doesn't seem four years have passed since you were born, my beautiful son.


You've come a long way since that day, learning to talk (nineteen to the dozen!), to walk (run rings round me!) and doing so well with your reading and maths, well ahead of what's expected of a pre-schooler.  You constantly amaze me, and you've made me a very proud mummy.

Happy birthday to a special little boy.

Lots of love, mummy. xxx