Once November starts to wane , once the harvest moon has set and we start to have log fires and light candles in the evening, I tend to forget the rooftopvegplot. But because I've been so ill all summer, I still have a load of tidying up to do.* Today was sunny and though not particularly warm, I was tempted to start the much needed autumn clear-up. I'm not super tidy in the garden, being mindful of the needs of precious wildlife in London W1 where I live. But, I don't want the decking to decay over winter or to find too many surprises in the raised beds come the spring.
The job I've been really dreading has been to clear up the compost heap. Some time after midsummer I noticed some potato shoots sticking out of the top of the compost bin, which is a huge timber school trunk. I let them be. Eventually the potato grew everywhere. We had an abundance of greenery, in fact so much greenery that I assumed that no potatoes would grow underneath. And I figured that even if potatoes were growing in there, they'd be eaten by the slugs and worms that inhabit the heap. The plant became so huge that I never got around to pulling it out - until today. As you can see the shoots were still green, though the potato flowered long ago. There's a rogue nasturtium in there as well.
Imagine my surprise once I'd cut back the upper part of the plant and lifted the lid. There, nestling on top of the compost, was spread a host of lovely, whole, huge, pink-tinged maincrop potatoes. It was so easy harvesting them, they'd all grown on top, not inside the compost. This might have protected them from slugs. I found a couple of half eaten potatoes, but most were still intact.
Even before my find I was enjoying being back at work in the garden. Afterwards I was cock-a-hoop. How simple my gardening had been this summer. I know that really don't deserve such a bounty! But nature had looked kindly on me. I weighed the haul, noticing that, as far as I could see, this crop came from just one plant (that hasn't been watered all summer!) That's 8lbs, over half a stone of big potatoes from one stem.
I separated out the tiddlers and we had them for lunch. Perhaps they would taste horrible? No, they tasted delicious and earthy, just the way new potatoes should. Have I invented a new way of growing potatoes? What am I going to do next year? And by the way what variety are they?
*I'm much better now thanks. But look at the post: http://www.rooftopvegplot.com/2016/11/a-new-lease-of-life.html, for the full story of my illness and recovery.