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Category: Garden (Page 1 of 20)

Spud Sunday: The Volunteer Spud

The message on my phone showed my sister’s fine haul of freshly harvested, hefty potatoes. The kind of bounteous beauties that, once seen, banish the prospect of having anything else for dinner.

Which is nice for her of course, but envy-inducing for one such as me.

Not that I am without garden yields. An unusually mild October has brought tomatoes, gherkins and french beans, along with a few precious apples from a young, but promising, tree. My homegrown spuds, however, were small in number and have long since been eaten. And yet, in my heart of potato hearts, I know that, somewhere out there, in the garden, spuds remain.

Wherefore art thou, my Spud?

In the matter of digging potatoes, there are, as I see it, two fundamental laws:

  1. You will invariably skewer at least one tuber with the garden fork.
  2. In spite of one’s best efforts to locate every last spud, you will miss one or several. And you will know this because, the following spring, you will see the sprouts of your stray potatoes pushing up through the soil. These are known in the potato trade as volunteers.

It is as if to say that these potatoes volunteer their tuberous goodness without the need for deliberate planting, though, often as not, they are removed because the gardener has other plans for that patch of soil.

For my part, unearthing a volunteer can be a source of passing regret, especially if what was missed was a good, dinner-sized, spud. But, sometimes, I nurture that volunteer, so that one missed dinner fills several future dinner plates.

And so I put my harvest envy aside and look forward to the garden’s promise of good things to come.

Spud Sunday: New Season, Old Spuds

If potatoes had personalities, you might describe them as a patient lot. Forget to dig them in autumn and they might surprise you come spring with their belated bounty.

And so it was this weekend. Though the potato calendar may have pointed to planting – and recent Potato Days, such as those at the Organic Centre in Co. Leitrim and at Sonairte in Co. Meath, provided both the spur to sow and the seeds to sow with – it was harvesting that was the name of this Spud Sunday’s game.

Potato Day Sonairte 2014

A rather cheery looking spud welcomed visitors earlier this month to this year’s edition of Potato Day at Sonairte in Co. Meath, with all of the usual spud suspects in attendance

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Spud Sunday: Get Growing

For those attentive souls who have noticed some longer than usual absences in Spud Sunday reporting of late, let me just say that housing – and, to be specific, the buying, the moving and the shortly-to-commence renovating of a new Daily Spud abode – is playing havoc with my attention to all things tuber.

Still, with the approach of spud planting season, there are a few items worthy of some attention:

Firstly – and following my brief appearance on RTÉ’s recently aired episode of Gliondar, which followed the fortunes of participants in West Kerry’s Spud-Off Mór – it came to my attention that the event in question is not, in fact, the only Spud-Off in town.

great british spud off 2014

I was contacted last week by Nick Moyle, one of the gents behind Two Thirsty Gardeners – a UK-based gardening and home brewing website – about none other than their Great British Spud Off (which I shall hereafter call the GBSO, just because I can).

Theirs is a different take on going spud-to-spud. Whereas the Spud-Off Mór was about comparing spuds on the basis of taste and texture, the GBSO rates the size of your yield from a single spud. To be more specific, take one container of your choice, one seed potato – of a variety of your choosing – and add whatever soil or compost you prefer. The winner will be the person who produces the heaviest haul and will bask in the glory of being the 2014 Spud Off champ. Simple as that.

Now, despite what the ‘Great British’ tag might lead you to believe, Nick and Rich – the aforementioned two thirsty gardeners – would love to see Spud Off entries from Ireland (or from any other country in the world, for that matter). Enough outside interest and you never know, they might have to rethink the name of the competition. Suffice to say that if you fancy a bit of a spud growing challenge – and a bit of fun – you should check out the details over here.

Potato Day Sign

As if that weren’t enough to get you thinking about getting your spuds into the ground and on their way, the annual potato pilgrimage to Leitrim fast approaches.

This coming Saturday, March 15th, from 11am-5pm, sees this year’s edition of Potato Day at the Organic Centre in Rossinver. It’s an event that’s been on the go since 1996 (and, as such, lays claim to being Ireland’s longest running Potato Day). It will also, on Saturday, be five years to the day since I first adventured up to Potato Day, with nary a backward glance since. I will, of course, make the trip again this year. I could hardly not.

Amongst the other spud heads in attendance will be guest speaker Dr. David Shaw from the Sárvári Research Trust in Wales – expert on all things blight – along with the usual lazy bed demonstrations and seeds aplenty to buy (new amongst the potato varieties on sale will be two blight busters from the Sárvári Research Trust – early main crop Bionica and late main crop Sarpo Axona – as well as Golden Wonder (my tops for roasties) and red-skinned – as opposed to red-nosed – Rudolph). The menu at the Grass Roof Café promises to run the gamut from boxty to bhaji. I’m getting hungry already.

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