Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Hills are Alive!

Some books dare to suggest that potato flowers are 'insignificant', but they don't take into account the significance of the first potato flower for a newbie potato-grower, do they! While my potato patch is belting along this generous Sydney spring, with every plant bristling with flower buds, none has progressed to the next step, well at least until this morning, that is.

Here's the Lone Ranger, daring to be first. Hardly an insignificant flower at all. Quite economical in its prettiness, perhaps even workmanlike as a bloom, but a little burst of pure white with a sunny centre. You'll do me!

Of course the other aspect of growing spuds is this 'hilling' business. I can now see why people grow spuds in cages of straw or stacks of tyres. But in true newbie style I just planted them in what seemed at the time to be deep trenches, following the books to the letter. But as the potatoes grew and the hills piled up around them, the potatoes just grew some more.

All my herb pots have been commandeered to act as 'foothills' to keep the mounds in place. I've been lucky that we haven't had any torrential rains, so the solidity of the hills hasn't been tested. No matter if they get whacked one day. I'll just rebuild them the next morning.

The potato plants themselves are outrageously green and healthy, and you can see that close family resemblance to tomato plants here.

Fortunately, I had just harvested my best-ever and biggest batch of home-made compost around the time I needed to start building my potato hills. It's lovely and sweet and crumbly stuff, and to make the hills I mix it up 50:50 with sugar cane mulch. I'm sure the potatoes love the gentle feed provided by the compost, and the wonderful thing is that at the end of the potato harvest all the compost and mulch goes back into the compost bins to be turned into even more compost for the garden.

While outside this morning snapping away at the hills, a young magpie came down to the birdbath for a drink. And so instead of finishing off this blog with a trug full of compost, bountifully fertile though that might be, I thought I'd finish up with a magpie's delightful carolling song instead.

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