DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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28 June 2010

Potato harvest


If there is one true thing I can count on, one thing that reconnects me with what is important and tells me, with certainty, that I am where I should be, it's gardening and pottering around outside.  The sky was bright blue, the temperature was about 20C and with two jumpers on I walked outside on Saturday to follow the call: "I'm digging potatoes!".  It gets to me every time; potato digging is always exciting.  You never know what will be there; it could be rotting seed potatoes or half eaten spuds attacked by insects and rodents, so when I walk away with good potatoes, I'm happy.  From one spot just two square metres, Hanno dug up a bucket full of spuds.  Nice work!  We'll leave the rest of the bed for another time.


There are quite a few vegetables that taste much better straight from the garden - potatoes are in that select group.  Any trouble you might have growing and tending them for three months is forgotten when you bite into that first new season potato.  They just need a little salt and pepper, a pat of butter and a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley and you have a king's feast.  If you've been thinking about growing a few spuds, but hesitating, dive into it.  Your first good harvest will be your significant reward.


Just before I was called  into the garden I was working in my sewing room, tearing my sister Tricia's old linen dress into tomato ties.  I didn't know then that I would be using them within the hour but when I looked at the tomatoes, they had tangled themselves into a mess so I spent a few minutes untangling them and tying them to their stakes.


The tomatoes above are an unknown (to me) variety that grew out of the lawn just near our back verandah.  They're a cherry-type tomatoes but larger than our the Tommy Toes we usually grow so I'm thinking they might be Gardener's Delight that I had some seeds of a while back.  Whatever they are, the rogue seeds grew where it suited them and have grown into the healthiest tomatoes we've had in a long time.  There are so many trusses like the one pictured above, we'll be drowning in tomatoes soon.  We also have two large varieties growing in the garden and another batch I grew from seed planted yesterday.  If they all deliver on their promise, we'll have an abundance of tomatoes in jars for later in the year.  Bliss!

This dill plant is taller than I am!

When you think about it, apart from touching the skin and hair of our loved ones and the food we eat, there are few other natural things that pass over our fingers.  Most of what we touch these days is man-made - furniture, cars, door handles, appliances, vacuum cleaners, irons, the kitchen sink and bench, shopping bags, and the rest of it.  Reconnecting with the natural world brings me back to a more gentle and forgiving place where the soil feels right, the herbs smell divine and picking a snow pea and eating it straight from the bush assures me that even if I work inside amidst the artificial, the natural world waits patiently for me outside and always, always, welcomes me back again.


Eventually, when I came back inside, I had my little harvest basket full of produce.  It was full of green tomatoes that will ripen on the bench, a couple of fat cucumbers and some green beans.  A nice addition to our kitchen supplies.


Back yard food production not only gives you fresh, healthy, organic food, it also demonstrates the self confidence of knowing how to grow, of being a worthy custodian of the land you live upon and the wisdom of backing yourself by believing that a small seed, if tended and encouraged, will sustain you and your family.  So many of our traditional skills have been lost to us, but food gardening is still here, available to all who wish to plan their garden and work to achieve that dream.  If you're not gardening yet, I encourage you to start, even if it's in pots or containers.  And if you're already out there with Hanno and I, breathing in the fresh air, getting your hands dirty and feeling good because of it, well you would know what I'm talking about.  What's that saying about preaching to the choir?

38 comments:

  1. we harvested out yams this weekend and what a treasure hunt - the best fun in ages. It seems weird watching your garden knowing you are in winter & seeing what your climate lets you grow. Do you ever get frosts?

    Love Leanne Nz

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  2. Hi Leanne. We never get frost here. It gets down to about 2 or 3C some mornings but the temp climbs to around 20 most winter days.

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  3. I am so jealous of your potatoes, we didn't get any planted this year but will next! Your tomatoes look great! Do you have any problems with your dill spreading through your garden and taking things over?

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  4. Fab-looking spuds (I bet they were tasty) and tomatoes to look forward to, but at 20 degrees here in Scotland as well, we're not wearing two jumpers. We're stripping off for "the summer"! Jo

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  5. Hi Rhonda, our garden is just starting to look like a vegie patch, can't wait for things to be ready,thanks for the encourament to give it all a go.Carole

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  6. Could you please tell me why you pick your tomatoes when they're green and then let them ripen rather than letting them ripen naturally on the vine?
    Heather

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  7. Everything looks so yummy. I wish I had planted potatoes, I have always wanted to but never did. I will definitely try next year. I did plant tomatoes, peppers, cukes, onions, garlic and lots of herbs. I am very excited about my little garden. We have one cherry tree that yielded loads of cherries this year and we have some new pear trees that are starting to flower. Your blog inspires me so much. God Bless you and Hanno. Take care.

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  8. Beautiful potatoes-- How fun to read your blog about digging them up. The tomotoes are huge like you say and are healthy. Would you be able to answer this question I have about tomotoes? Why and what causes the blooms to fall off tomotoe vines when the bloom starts to die back? We here in the south are trying to have tomotoes and a few other things but we have hit a bad hurdle with this. Thanks for all your inspiration.

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  9. I pulled the last of my spring potatoes from the ground this week; I got them in late. I'm planning to put together a potato box for the fall.... less space and more potatoes! I think potatoes are the most satisfying of veggies to grow yourself, for the very reasons you listed.

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  10. Potatoes have always been a flop for us. We have tried varying ways from tyre towers to seaweed beds - everything. Special seed potatoes and sprouted ones from the vegiebox we have tried them all. We have been trying for close to 30 years and have probably got 1/2 a bucket full in that time.
    So I can't help but be a bit jealous when I see your lovely harvest. I'll just have to imagine their yummy taste.
    Still daughter is having a visit with us at the moment and has just asked about my lovely soap , which has left her skin so nice (thank you Rhonda). Maybe soap not spuds is my strength.

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  11. Organicmommy, I cut the dill flowers off and use them as cut flowers inside.

    Heather, both ways are "natural" - letting them stay on the vine till they ripen and cutting them and leaving them to ripen inside. I have found cutting them green gives me sweet tasty tomatoes that are out of harm's way, cannot be sunburnt or eaten by bugs.

    Bonnie, it could be a few things - temperature, over-fertilising, no pollinators. If it's too hot or too cold, flowers will fall - ideal temps in the day time are 20 - 30C. They will still grow outside that range but you'll have more problems. Over fertilising - tomatoes should be grown in rich soil with little added nitrogen. You can water with seaweed tea to keep them healthy but they don't need anything else except a pinch of potash. If you have no bees, shake the plants gently where the flowers are growing, that helps pollinate.

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  12. anonymous, never grow potatoes in tyres. They can leech cadmium

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  13. Hi Rhonda,
    We grew potatoes this summer, we're in the Hunter Valley NSW, but I didn't really know how to store them. I was told not to wash them, and keep them dark. I put them in boxex covered with newspaper so they wouldn't see the light. It didn't work. Any hints?
    Thanks, Kristy

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  14. Kristy, storage is tricky. All you need is one small spot on one that will start the others rotting. Check all the potatoes and store them in a box (not plastic) that allows good air flow, away from the light. Keep them in a cool place, not the fridge, and keep checking them as the weeks go by. If you can, keep them in the ground until you need them. This is fine unless you get a lot of rain, then you'd have to lift them.

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  15. How wonderful. I can't even imagine having a bounty all year round. Frost is around for at least half the year making us do the best we can with the summer season. Agreed. No vegetable tastes better then right dug out of the ground potato! It is always nice to visit your garden.

    Marlyn

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  16. Your garden is beautiful! I hope mine, out here in California will be just as beautiful this summer. We get so much wind on our ranch, that it's sometimes difficult to grow a good garden. But I keep on trying :)

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  17. Your garden looks so good! I did potatoes in a trash can this year my cousin did it last year and she had enough for all winter. But my experience wasn't as good as hers was if you would like to see what I grew instead of potatoes come on by and look at my posting. Take Care :)

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  18. I love it! We planted our potatoes in the wrong season I think (early spring) so each plant has only yielded one or two new potatoes. But hey, five small potatoes this year is much, much more than one tiny potato last year.

    Can all tomatoes ripen off the vine? It turns out that where I put my garden gets a fair amount of shade. I'm not 100% sure they're going to ripen where they are right now.

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  19. Striving simply, tomatoes ripen by temperature, not sunlight. Most healthy tomatoes will ripen inside.

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  20. Oh...I love to eat potatoes. I'm glad you were able to dig up some good ones. I love them with a bit of salt and butter, too...yummy!!! Hugs from Oregon!!!

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  21. Thank you for the information on the tomatoe plants,

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  22. Debbie, Ontario, CanadaJune 28, 2010 11:53 am

    Nice potatoes. I haven't worked my garden up to potatoes yet, but we have harvested strawberries, loads of lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and radishes. The snow peas and raspberries are just about ready to start picking. Can't wait. This growing my own food thing is very addictive. Love it.

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  23. Is that dill for real?! It is astonishing large and looks like something from prehistoric/dinosaur times. Can you please tell me more about it? I've never seen or heard of dill growing so large.

    Bette in the USA

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  24. Mu hubby and I canned 20 pounds of cucumbers today. If my plant produce any more I don't know if I'll ever be able to eat pickles again!

    Stephanie
    www.simplicitymom.blogspot.com

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  25. Hi Rhonda. You actually convinced me about potatoes some time back, I am putting them in our planning and look forward to the taste. I had to look twice at the first photo to make sure it was Hanno -- I think that's the first time I've seen him in long trousers! :) I like your new photo.

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  26. Beautiful vegeetables and a lovely photo of Alice "supervising"

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  27. Hi Rhonda. I just wanted to say I am obsesed with your blog! I have been silently stalking it for about a month now, and you have motivated me to start my own blog about our journey to simple living. I'm right at the beginning of that journey so blogs like yours are helping me to see that it is definitely worth all the hard work. I have learnt so much from your posts and wanted to thank you for all the work you put into writing such an informative blog. You may not realise that you are helping so many people, even those that don't leave comments but 'silently stalk' like I do. Come over and check out my blog if you'd like, I'd love some pointers if you have time. www.pathtolivingsimply.blogspot.com its very basic at the moment with just the one post but am working hard this week to get a good overview of my life in there.
    Thanks for another inspiring post. Potatoes are on my list to do very soon! Kim

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  28. I just had to comment on your two jumpers! I'm in the same place as Jo (commenting above) - Scotland - and we're all in vest tops and floaty skirts now it's the summer. I think it reached 18C yesterday...
    I love the variety of lives in the blog world!
    Karen

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  29. I love fresh potatos from the garden. I grow red potatos and they are so yummy.
    Just curious - why don't you let your tomatoes ripen on the vine - any specific reason??

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  30. I'm going to try potatoes next year. I have had so much success with my square foot gardening that I am actually EXCITED about trying new veggies! Nothing like growing it yourself, harvesting, and taking it immediately inside to eat!

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  31. Awesome blog! Have you heard about making your blog carbon neutral for free yet? It's really easy and I am trying to pass the word around.

    http://tinyurl.com/DanaBlogsCarbonNeutralNow

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  32. Oh my makes my mouth water, I love fresh veggies more than anything else, and this time of year it is the best..Hugs my friend

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  33. Rhonda, what a way with words you have. You have instilled within me a craving for the humble potato! :-P Your crop looks plentiful and you obviously enjoy the process - so motivating for others. Thanks as always for sharing.
    Tracy (Brisbane)

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  34. Potatoes..such a versatile vegetable.
    I'd like to pass on a couple of money saving tips where it comes to getting your hands on different varieties...
    Seed potatoes are expensive and dont always sprout(that is my experience).
    I buy a few exotic potatoes from a supermarket and leave them propped in cardboard egg containers in a shady,cool spot where I can check on the shoots.If each potato sprouts from several eyes, I will cut it into separate pieces and leave them to dry off.This helps to increase your planting yield.When the sproutings are about an inch and a half high, I then plant them.Some thrive, some die off...but it all costs less than a dollar.
    I've also had success with planting potato peelings that have been thrown into the worm farm. They sprout in the warm,dark space and with a bit of fussing to slowly harden off the shoots to natural light and soil, can be planted out in the chosen spot.
    And the best bit--dirty hands, the next best bit -- these are free!

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  35. Hi Rhonda,

    This month my bookclub is reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop cafe, you may have seen the movie? The back of the book has southern american recipes and I cooked fried green tomatoes for the first time last week - delicious! Sweet but firm with a crispy outside. I'm sure you can google a recipe if you like the sound of it (I used polenta in place of cornmeal to coat them). Thought you might like to try something different with that beautiful harvast of yours.

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  36. My cousin recommended this website, you have awesome blogs. Thanks for the useful info.

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  37. Potato harvest looks like a real joy.
    I hope you have a wonderful day.

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  38. Hi Rhonda,
    I just reread this post, since I dug my own potatoes two days ago, early due to blight (more about it on my blog). I feel the same way you do about digging potatoes- it is exciting and ultimately SO satisfying! It was strange to dig all my potatoes in July instead of September (northern hemisphere), but still the same fun treasure hunt!

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