Monday, October 17, 2011

Homegrown - Hot potatoes, hot potatoes

This week I filled in my new bed-turned-garden with Zoodoo compost, which got delivered on Wednesday. I tell you what, this is the way to do it. Zoodoo delivers free if you order two or more bags, and they carried my order all the way down to the backyard for me - which is a bit of a hike. Convenience aside, it's also fun being able to tell Lily we have elephant and giraffe poo in our garden.

I ordered eight bags of compost and thought that would be heaps to fill my new garden, plus help out a few others. However, I ended up using seven bags in the new garden, so will have to use the last bag very sparingly.

Yesterday I planted my Ilam Hardy seed potatoes in the new garden. The staff at the garden centre told me this variety is an all-purpose potato, which is what I wanted. We especially like mashed and roast potatoes around here, so these should be good for that.

This is the first time I've planted actual seed potatoes. I've only planted potatoes once before and that was from kitchen potatoes that had sprouted. I mustn't have dug them all up, because I kept on getting new potato plants each year and they always did well.

This time I didn't want to risk introducing a weird fungus into my lovely new garden, so splashed out on a bag of seed potatoes.

The planting advice on the bag says to dig trenches 10-15cm deep, space the potatoes 30cm apart in the trenches, and space the trenches 75cm apart. I tried following this advice, but it was taking up a lot of room so I ended up spacing the trenches more like 60cm apart. Fingers crossed they still do alright.

Even with this compact planting, half of my new garden is now dedicated to potatoes, and I've still got to fit broccoli and cabbages in there too. I'm just going to cram them in and hope for the best. I placed a cabbage tree leaf as a marker in the garden to show where the last trench is so I don't accidentally plant broccoli on top of my potatoes.

A couple of weeks back I watched this neat video by Janet from Green Urvan Living about the uses of comfrey and learned a handy tip - wrap comfrey around potatoes when you plant them and it will help fertilise them as they grow. Unfortunately I don't have any comfrey yet so wasn't able to do that, but am keeping it in mind for future years.

While I was planting my potatoes, I got to enjoy the bird-call of a Tui sitting in the next door neighbours' Kowhai tree. I LOVE Tuis. Has anyone else noticed how loud their wings sound when they fly overhead?

Other garden news
Some of my seeds are sprouting, but I think lots of them have been washed away by the heavy rain/flooding we've had over the past couple of weeks, and will need to be replanted. We have a broken gutter on our house which gushes rain water out and straight down to one of my gardens.

At one point the water was sitting 2cm above the soil, right where I had planted a whole lot of carrot, bean and leek seeds the day before.

Fortunately I planted the leeks in toilet paper rolls, so some of them seem to have survived. There's no sign of the beans or carrots though, and the soil looks pretty compacted there now so I think I'll have to turn it over again and replant.

My beetroot has finally started to take off, months after I planted it.

Snow peas are sprouting next to the beetroot, and I can't wait to throw their sweet pods into salads this summer.
Snowpea shoot on the left.
Some seeds in my seed raising trays have started to sprout too, although the one with my spinach and silverbeet seeds might be ruined after Lily tipped all the contents onto the ground. I'm still hoping for the best.

My new raspberry cane is starting to form fruit buds on top. I'm so looking forward to homegrown smoothies.

And that's it from me for this week.

How are your gardens looking?

Linked up to the Homestead Barn Hop.


  1. Wow your garden looks amazing. The new bed looks wonderful. I love the toilet roll idea I must remember that when my seeds sprout. I know what you mean about the tuis we have lots in our garden too I love their call and boy are the loud I often mistake them for Kererū when they fly over head.

  2. oh yum raspberries! I don't think I can grow them here with the humidity. Good luck with the rest of it, spring is so satisfying when everything grows so well (except for the weeds, grrr).

  3. What fun you are having! I use toilet rolls to start corn seeds off and then plant the whole thing. Put them in an icecream container. It takes about 12 -13. Then in another3-4 weeks do another lot etc. Then you don't have feast or famine. Last year I did five lots. Try not to plant the lots too close together as one lot may wait for the next lot to catch up. You know to plant corn in blocks because they are wind pollinated - of course you do. Leeks I grow from seed. When they are nearly the thickness of a pencil I use a dibber/stick to make a hole about 3-4c across and 15cm or more deep, plop in 4-5 sheep pellets and drop the leek in. Sometimes they disappear down the hole. The depth of the hole is the blanched part you will get. Do not fill the hole in as the leek will fill it eventually. If you want a greater blanched stem you can slip a toilet roll over the top of the part above soil. I plant the whole crop together as some take longer than others. To prevent weeds I put a 6-8inch layers of autumen grass clipping with leaves in it, lime it and let that settle for 2-3 weeks before planting. Hope these hints have helped. Robyn Wolfe / Facebook

  4. Wow Robyn! Those tips are awesome. I can see you are a far more advanced gardener than me. Thank you for sharing.


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