Allotment gluts and failed experiments

We had high hopes of our early potatoes grown in tyres, but the piles of tyres rose much higher than the results! To be blunt, the potatoes planted in tyres were a waste of time. They produced only three or four medium-sized potatoes each and in one tyre those potatoes that were produced were warty: I don’t know whether this was the effect of some chemical from the tyres or just coincidental, but we threw them away.

The same variety of seed potato grown in the open ground and harvested two weeks later had between seven and 12 potatoes each, and the same potatoes left a full month after we harvested the tyre-grown ones were producing around a dozen large tubers each. So the idea that we might get a smaller but earlier harvest in tyres didn’t work for us, although I know it has worked for others. Anyway, we are now swimming in potatoes although that’s not exactly a hardship – we have plenty of friends willing to take delicious new potatoes off our hands if we get fed up with them!
We also have a cucumber glut, and having tried six different salads, two soups and using them as a face pack, I’m running out of ideas what to try next.

We had a bit of a disaster last weekend too. The high winds on Friday caught us out entirely – we’d opened the cold frame to water the said cucumbers, but because it was so very hot, we neglected to apply common sense to the situation and left the frame propped fully open to allow the air to circulate. About ten minutes later, as I was watering the nearby raspberries, the wind lifted both lids off their supports and sent them crashing down. Net result: five of the eight glass panes broken and one wooden supporting bar actually fractured by the effect of the fall.

Our cold frame is big and heavy and isn’t what we would have built for ourselves, but it was on the plot when we arrived. So we work with it. Himself cut glass for one side of the frame during the week and reglazed one lid. The other is still covered by a sheet of corrugated plastic held down with bricks. The cucumbers don’t seem to mind at all, but next year I’m rather hoping we can use plastic rather than glass, as if I’d been stood two foot closer, I’d have been showered with dangerous fragments – and you do have to open and close cold frames regularly if you’re going to actually grow things in them, so we’re always at risk of the lids slipping out of our hands.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, July 1, 2009

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