Allotment tasks: Earthing-Up and Hardening-Off

I hope I’m not the only person who hates earthing up potatoes? It’s one of those things that I suspect may separate the allotment diehard from the allotment wimp. Possibly there are people out there (and not all of them blokes in flat caps and wellingtons) saying ‘A a good day’s earthing-up is my idea of Heaven’ and really meaning it.

I really do hate earthing up potatoes. It’s back breaking work (particularly if your soil is 99.9% clay, as our is at present) and although it looks lovely to see the neat rows of potatoes, with their piled heaps of earth, the process of getting there involves hours of heavy labour with a rake and such complex situations as not treading on the next row to be earthed-up as you work. And even if that makes me an allotment wimp, I shall be a wimp till the end of my days.

Hardening off plants is another kind of endurance test, but it’s a bit more like the old days, before people had tumble dryers and automatic washing machines and your Granny (or your Mum, depending how old you are) used to keep an eye on the weather once the washing was on the line, because rain would destroy a whole day’s hard labour over the washtub and mangle.

Hardening-off is the process of getting tender, usually indoor or greenhouse raised plants ready for the rigours of a British Spring. I don’t mind it so much as earthing up spuds, but I do get fed up with running out to check:

1. The dogs haven’t cocked their legs on the tray of borlotti beans that is on the ground because it’s too tall for the outdoor staging
2. That the slight crashing sound wasn’t a frog leaping from the pond into the same beans
3. That the wind isn’t so strong it’s threatening to snap the stems of the sunflowers that are out for the first time today (it’s not too strong – and a certain amount of wind is good for making seedlings grow shorter and develop stronger stems, that’s why commercial flower growers have fans over their seedling trays)
4. That the rain is only light (wrong, it’s torrential – all nine trays of tomatoes, beans [four kinds], herbs, hardy trees and violas have to be taken indoors)

Then, half an hour later, the rain stops and you start all over again …

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, April 27, 2009


Blogger Lindab said...

Oooh, look at your potatoes! Watching your plot unfold with the season is like looking at a tropical country from up here in the frozen north. I think we must be about a month behind you.

April 27, 2009 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger UKChileHead said...

Like you, I hate bending down to do the earthing up - I got round it by growing this seasons potatoes in 30 litre containers. Six potatoes in each, just lift up to the bench when earthing up.

May 1, 2009 at 12:17 AM  

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