Quick Links 5th December 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.


Life

2016-11-30-07-32-06Most of this week has been taken up with things related to my Dad, plus my maternal Grandmother is sick, so that’s been taking some time too, leaving little time for anything else.

We’ve had freezing weather all week long with temperatures dipping down to between -3°C & -5°C in the early hours of the morning.

I’ve been up and out with the dogs most mornings before sunrise, so have got to enjoy the sunrise most mornings, and the weather conditions and clear skies have made for some pretty spectualar sunrises.



This Is The Most Dangerous Time For Our Planet – Prof. Stephen Hawking


Currently Reading 

Not much time to really read anything much apart from the next part of the book in my online discussion (see below). I’ve been listening to (or rather re-listening to), the excellent audiobook by David Hewson – “The Flood“, in the car, but I finished this on Saturday so I’ll be looking for something else. I have a few to choose from.

Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer: 2 (The Journals of Thomas Merton) by Thomas Merton [GoodReads].

The Wastelands (Dark Tower III) by Stephen King [GoodReads], reading this for an online disucssion group


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


If you should also happen to play Words With Friends and fancy challenging me to a game or two, my user name is Tontowilliams.

Making A Quick Potato Salad


Here’s a quick video for making potato salad. Details below.

Makes enough for four people.

You’ll Need:

  • 6 to 8 small / medium sized potatoes
  • Fresh Chives or mint
  • 2 small / medium red onions
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon juice (2 to 3 tablespoons)

To Make:

  1. Prepare the potatoes, peel if needed (if you’re using young new potatoes, they’ll probably just need a scrub and the skins can stay on). Chop them into bite size pieces.
  2. Boil them until they are just soft, be careful not to over-boil, particularly if you are using a fluffy type potato.
  3. When they’re done, drain and put them back into cool water, and allow them to cool down, until they cold enough to handle comfortably with bare hands.
  4. Prepare the onions and chives by chopping into as finer pieces as you can manage, put these into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the potatoes into the mixing bowl, with the onions and chives.
  6. Add some mayonaisse (about 3 or 4 tablespoons), be careful not to add too much, you can always add a little more if needed.
  7. Add a good grind of pepper and salt and the lemon juice.
  8. Mix all together in the bowl, either with clean hands or a couple of large spoons, be careful not to mash the potatoes!
  9. This is ready to serve or can be refrigerated in a covered container for a couple of days.

Chitting Potatoes

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How Do You Chit Yours?

This has to be another sign that spring is on the way, the potatoes are out in their egg box holders chitting!

Why chit potatoes? Well simply when growing at a small scale (commercial potatoes farmers rarely chit potatoes, due to the space constraints), it helps the potatoes to get a little bit of a head start before they go into the ground. The aim is to encourage the potatoes to start to sprout, and ideally we’re looking for small (normally) dark purple sprouts. This is achieved by leaving the potatoes in the light at room temperature for a couple of weeks before planting.

I use cardboard egg boxes, as their ideal for supporting the potatoes, and preventing them from rolling around, and potentially damaging the sprouts that I’m trying to encourage. You can also use seed trays or seed modules – horses for courses folks, it’s whatever works for you!

As I mentioned in my video update (6th Feb) below, folklore says that normally you plant early potatoes at Easter and then harvest 100 days later. Now I’m using the term folklore advisedly here, because it certainly is good advice and last year proved exactly true. I planted my spuds on Easter Saturday and exactly 100 days later dug the first plant to an excellent crop!

This year Easter Saturday is the 26th March, which as I said in the video feels a little early given the potential for there still to be frost (our last predicted frost day is normally mid April, but again only a prediction), however having checked last year’s calendar, Easter Saturday 2015, was April 4th. So on that basis only 9 days later than it is this year. So perhaps not as early as I felt it was.

For now I’m not going to make any decisions either way. I’d certainly like to get my potatoes in the ground on Easter Saturday; as it feels like a milestone in the growing calendar. At the moment however, the ground is too wet, and the risk of them rotting in the ground is probably greater than any risk of frost, so there’ll need to be a dry spell between now and Easter anyway if that’s what I’m aiming for!

From Chitting to Planting (soon I hope)
From Chitting to Planting (soon I hope)

Who’s Been Digging My Potatoes?

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I paid an early morning visit to the allotment today. It’s the first time that I’ve made it down there since last weekend, due to other things going on, but everything at first glance looked okay. Or at least so I thought, because then I noticed that there were a few potatoes sitting on the surface of the plot, when really they should be still buried under ground. It looks as though something, my guess would be a fox, has been digging them up.

I don’t really mind sharing some of my crops, however they haven’t been taken away, just left on the surface, so obviously they’re not tasty unless cooked!

I think tomorrow, I will dig up the remainder, which is a job I need to do anyway, as I don’t want to loose the crop, from an over curious visitor 🙂

Allotment Video Update 12th March 2014 & 14th March 2014

I finally managed to get the video I recorded earlier in the week to upload so here it is, scroll down for more recent updates.

Since then I’ve been busy planting broad bean seeds (eight rows), peas and rainbow chard. I’ve also dug trenches for my early potatoes, which weather permitting will probably go in on Monday. The temperature however has dropped from a balmy 11° when I shot the video above to around 2° this morning.

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