Over the last couple of years I have been very keen to grow a few of my own vegetables in pots on my patio and enlist the help of my younger son, Archie, a boy who loves the outdoors. However, as can happen with so many things, I never quite got around to it and so was delighted earlier this year when my very green-fingered dad (henceforth known as green-fingered gramp) took on the first part of this growing project with Archie.
Off they went to buy a bag of seed potatoes and a couple of weeks later several large black pots appeared outside the kitchen window, each containing one of these potatoes. The next bit was down to Archie, and me too, and that of course was to keep said potato-containing pots well watered. Now this is where I am somewhat forgetful – I have sent many a pot plant to heaven’s garden through lack of water – and it turns out Archie has inherited this trait! Luckily for us, we did have a reasonable amount of rain (and I did remember the water sometimes!) and the potatoes began to shoot and grow – quite well we thought. Although we soon learnt that what you see above the ground is not necessarily an indicator of what is going underneath in the depths of the soil! On a visit several weeks after the introduction of our potato plants, which were beautifully green and tall, green-fingered gramp had a dig around in the pots and we were informed that the soil was ‘very dry’ and the potatoes were about ‘the size of a pea’. Oh dear! However, he told us that all was not lost and we could partly remedy the situation by keeping the plants well hydrated from now on. Phew! So from that day on my ‘I must remember to water’ hat was on and between us Archie and I did a grand job with the hose. And a good job we did as the weather suddenly got very dry and hot.
A couple of weeks later and it looked as though there could be another potential problem – potato blight. I decided it was high time the crop (I hoped there would be one) was harvested and so set to work one warm and sunny afternoon. And it turned out we were not disappointed, and apart from one pot, each dig yielded a good number of lovely-looking potatoes. Yes some were a bit small, perhaps not surprising given the early drought conditions they endured, but we had a number of good sized spuds and the fun of digging around in the soil to see whether there were anymore lurking at the bottom on the pot was great – like a lucky dip!
Since then we have been tucking into our delicious new potatoes most days and still have plenty to eat. The flavour is amazing and it is very satisfying to know we have grown them ourselves. Having never done much gardening before I now understand the satisfaction people talk about when working with the earth and the pleasure derived from producing something so natural and delicious. And how lovely for Archie too to see firsthand proper food being grown and eaten, and also for him to learn that it has to be looked after in order to prosper (red-faced mother takes note of this!).
Green-fingered gramp, Archie and I between us have also grown a good crop of flat-leaved parsley and have some tomatoes on the go, although as the latter are outside I’m not sure how many we will get. Still, for a first time Archie and I (with a little help from green-fingered gramp) are very happy with our produce. We will definitely be doing some more planting in future and looking forward to more delightful goodies!