Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

That's Shallot



The soil's too cold and wet at the allotment to do anything, yet the shallots are demanding to put down their roots and settle in to this year's growth. So I've decided to start them off in seed trays this year. Here's some Pessandor I saved from last year's crop. It's a large and long shallot with a lovely sweet flavour that keeps well. I also saved some Pikant: a round shallot with a little more bite and slightly red in colour. Another good keeper, from which I've managed to save seed from every year since my first crop in 2004.

As usual I've over bought in everything. Despite saving my own shallots, I bought some more (a round, yellow type) at Malmesbury potato day. I also have masses of garlic started in pots because they hate the cold winter's clay up at the plot. In addition to my saved Albigensian Wight and Cristo, I have Music, Sweet Haven and Kransnodar Red which Patrick kindly gave me from his massive saved garlic stash at the Food Growing Bloggers get together last October. Then there's the elephant garlic...

I had a quick look at the potatoes I have chitting on the windowsill. How on earth have I managed to acquire so many potatoes? Ahhh yes, I'm trying lots of new varieties this year for a massive potato trial:
  • 3 kinds of Mayan potatoes - new in the catalogues, derived from Peruvian stock and said to cook more quickly than our usual potatoes. Judging by their willingness to sprout, they're not going to be good keepers, but their bright purple and red sprouts from chitting are very cheerful
  • Rudolph - a red potato, which I believe is also new this year
  • Blue Danube - a blue potato from the Sarvari institute's blight resistant breeding programme and available for the first time this year
  • Will - given to me by Ben at Real Seeds and meant to be blight resistant
  • Swift - I'm curious to see if they really are quick to produce and crop well in a container
  • Vales Sovereign - a free gift because Threadspider and I combined our regular Vivaldi and Pentland Javelin order via our allotment society's seed scheme
10 potato varieties - that's madness! Thank goodness Threadspider will be taking some of these off my hands. I think I'll just get everything at the potato day next year, it's safer. In the meantime, if S and L are reading this, I have the solution to your lack of seed potato problem...

13 comments:

  1. I can't believe how cold, sodden and backward the land is, this year. By late Feb last year, it was mild, I was planting up spring things and the rhubarb was coming on fast.

    This year, I haven't even mown the grass, so far. The vegetable garden is like a bog and the perennials look dead as mutton. Our snowdrops are now about 50% in bloom and the aconites a little less. Not so much as a daffodil bud yet - the shoots are barely an inch high. 'February Gold' my foot!

    Do you think the move, from pot to bed will stimulate bolting, with your shallots? I always worry about that, having caused an entire crop of leeks to flower prematurely, on day.

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  2. whoops! the 'on day' at the end of the comment should read: 'once, a few years back.'

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  3. When I read about your garlic in pots, I wondered if I should have done that too. With Ming hurting his back, our garlic didn't get planted. We haven't looked at potatoes. I've been trying to persuade him to give up the allotment - on the grounds that his back is more important than it (the allotment) - but, when I say that, he looks at me with the kind of let-down horror that he might be expected to use were I to say I'd murdered the children.

    Esther

    P.S. I'm having blogger troubles and can't see your pictures - I'm sure they're lovely though!

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  4. I have an overwhelming tendancy to over buy or collect all plants and vegetables!!! When I look through my seed catalogs I cirle hundreds, perhaps thousands of things. I really want to try them all out to find out the best!

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  5. Nige - good question. I'm hoping I can plant them out soon so their roots haven't filled the seed tray cells. If I can, then bolting shouldn't be a problem, especially if I can get a nice tilth of soil on the allotment for them.

    Esther - there's no harm in doing that. It's important that the garlic gets a period of cold to encourage clove formation in the new bulb. If there's no chance of either you or Ming getting out on the allotment soon, then starting them off in pots now is the thing to do. I once left my garlic planting until March so that the soil wasn't cold and wet when they were planted. BUT there wasn't any frost, so my crop that year was bulb shaped garlic which turned out to have no individual cloves.

    Michelle - I was congratulating myself on how 'good' I've been this year. Surprisingly I've not found much to tempt me in the seed and plant catalogues nor at various garden centres and nurseries this year. I got quite a bit of a shock when I turned my attention on the vegetable side of things. I've definitely over compensated in this area instead!

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  6. how busy you are! i haven't tried any shallots or potatoes as they require full sun--one would hope that root vegs didn't require as much as tomatoes> ;)

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  7. Shedman is in charge of our potatoes this year - he went pale when I told him you were growing 10 varieties! (we have 3)

    I am looking forward (as ever) to following your lottie progress this year.

    I am chomping at the bit as well - especially for the kitchen garden. Everything is SO late this year. Like plant mad Nige my daffs are an inch high.

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  8. PS Beans is my thing ... I seem to have 7 different varieties of climbing / french beans (not sure how that happened), and 4 different broad beans!

    No runners - don't like them
    K

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  9. Your post title made me smile VP. Have not got my shallots in yet - no desire to go the allotment at all when it's so cold and damp . May well go down the cell route myself. Roll on spring !

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  10. Your potato trial sounds interesting. I'm growing potatoes for the first time this year and have only just found our what 'chitting' is! I notice you are chitting on your windowsill. Now I'm wondering if I should bring mine inside!

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  11. I've got my seed potatoes already (Bintje, heirloom), though it's way to early to plant them. I'm going to try the container method! And, "That's Shallot" sounds like it's a play on words or summink of an expression I don't know. ??

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  12. I'm jealous that you have such a rang eof potatoes. But I've got too many with only 4 different types. But I'm going to be disciplined, not least because I'm sick of blight.

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  13. Petoskystone - and they'd take up a lot of room in your tiny space too...

    Karen - strangely I just can't get going with beans, though I do like Bolotti ones. I grow them more for drying though. I'm with you on the awfulness of runner beans, though everyone up at t'plot thinks I'm daft not growing any!

    Anna - I'm sure my going down the cell route has tempted the sun out, out of spite!

    Kate - welcome! Chitting's definitely an indoor job. A cool windowsill with plenty of light like my north facing one is just the job!

    Monika - I saw Bintje for sale at Bruges market last year! And yes, you've rumbled me - that's shallot is the most dreadful of puns, staning in for that's yer lot. I thought it particularly apt because I don't seem to have stopped collecting things to grow like sweets in the veg line so far this year...

    Colleen - you're quite right. If only I could have exercised the same self restraint!

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