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Category: Spud Sundays (Page 1 of 92)

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: Spuds in Space

For those who may have wondered – and with good reason – whether this week’s resumption of service was but a flash in the proverbial frying pan, herewith a new installment in the Spud Sunday series.

Included below is a podcast from the fine folks at the Eden Project, featuring (among other things), an interview with my good self on all things spud. Though this dates from a few years back, it never got an official airing here.

In it, they consider the matter of boldly going to a new planet, and the set of plants that you might want to stash in your spaceship before you go. And yes, long before Matt Damon popularised the notion in The Martian, spuds have been on NASA’s radar as space-worthy starches. In more recent years, experiments conducted by the International Potato Centre in Peru in growing potatoes in simulated Martian conditions have shown positive results.

So, without further ado, here’s the episode (you’ll hear me from about 7 minutes in, on spuds, space and why an extra-long thumbnail can be a very useful thing).

The Spud’s Awake

It was as cold a May as I can recall – except, perhaps, for that time during my college days when, on a day early in May, the theory of lolling around on warm grass was replaced by the practice of scurrying to avoid a brief, freak snow flurry. And though this year’s May might not have been snow-cold, it was, for most of its length, nippy nonetheless. During that unseasonably chilly month, I watched as my emerging tomato plants steadfastly refused to budge beyond their seed leaves, as if to say ‘feck this for a game of cowboys, wake me when you have the heat on.’ It’s only the belated arrival, in the past few weeks, of some actual summer warmth that has, at last, spurred them into growth.

Let’s just say I know how they feel.

Daily Spud observers will have noticed an extended period of dormancy hereabouts but, whether it’s the warmth, or the season of new growth, a bout of spud activity this way comes, with me in the thick of it.

Spuds sign

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