A sad month for potatoes

One of the first loads from the 2022 maincrop harvest – i was very thankful to be able to participate as I had just come out of hospital

So what is sad?

The “sad day” comes when we have to go out and buy potatoes from the village shop or supermarkets in town. Last year (2022) we planted at end of February and first week of March – then started harvesting baby salad spuds in mid-late June, main crop through July and August then our final late crop in early October. We purchased our first shop potatoes in late February 2023 albeit they were only large potatoes for baking as we had (and still have) a few nets of small potatoes in storage.

Storing Spuds

When we harvest our spuds we like to separate out a bucket of little tiny spuds (as we go) to use straight away in salads, etc. The bulk we leave on the surface for a day or two before collecting them in and storing them loosely on trays or just a few layers in big baskets in our woodshed to dry out a bit, before netting them up in 10kg nets, which are just stacked on the shelves in our root cage.

Minimizing Waste

One of the things we have noticed since we moved here, and especially since we started growing, harvesting, eating and preserving the food we raise or grow – is how much less waste we have. Even something as simple as potatoes – from the moment we start harvesting the potatoes they are either; eaten pretty soon, stored to eat later, sold to locals or given away to friends or if they are too small, too much work to trim and clean for us they are cooked up as animal feed. This ugly brew are old, small spuds being boiled up today – skins on – to be shared between the dogs and the birds as feed additive.

When we had our pigs any and all slightly mouldy, split or other root vegetables genuinely not suitable for human consumption were boiled up for them – spuds are perfect pig food but not raw. We dont put bad spuds into the compost because they re-emerge so successfully!

When are we going to plant our spuds this year?

This week coming when we go to Svishtov we will have a look in our local Agrotek (agricultural shop – sells seeds, compost, fertilisers, netting, all things anti-fungus or anti-insect or anti-anything nasty to plants – bulk seeds for grasses, grains and cereals ) – by the way, the family that runs it have been a really great source of good advice over the past 7 years – another example of why we feel so thankful for all the Bulgarian people we have met – and also that a little bit of kindness, politeness and mutual respect goes a long way in building good relationships.

Spuds had started chitting in the storage cage – now getting sunshine and fresh air and we will plant by the end of March

The picture below is looking North from our livestock area – in the background along the side of the garage are our compost bays – the foreground shows some of the seven edged beds that were heavily fertilised in summer 2022 then left fallow but heavily mulched all through Autumn and Winter. They will be ready to plant/seed/sow whenever we want in the coming month – we will just open up the mulch to get to bare soil – then plant the seeds and seed potatoes – cover with soil then cover with the mulch again – known as the “Ruth Stout” method. There are 7 beds prepared and we will probably plant 4 or with potatoes and use the others for swedes, beetroot, parsnips, turnips and maybe mid-late cropping french beans which we love (and companion plants where possible) and a test crop of borlotti or similar beans that we have not grown before.

Looking North towards the garage from livestock area showing 4 of 7 edged beds for spuds and other root veg

Wish us luck!

If we manage to get the seed potatoes in this month (March) we may be able to harvest some baby salad potatoes in June – then a main crop in July and August, and leave one bed for late cropping in late September or early October.

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