I used to like growing potatoes.
And eating them freshly dug and lightly steamed was the best bit of all.
But down here in Devon it just hasn’t seemed to work.
First it was the rain. 2012: the year of the soggy Olympics and waterlogged Jubilee. My potatoes struck down with blight. One day the foliage was bright, healthy and green. The next it had collapsed into a slimy brown heap on the soil.
The following year, undefeated, I tried again. Shelling out extra dosh for blight resistant tubers, I reckoned I had it licked. So did it rain? No. And with the veggie beds well above the water table this time the mice moved in.
Along with whatever else it is that cracks and dries the skin.
But I am nothing if not persistent.
20 ‘Pink Fir Apple’ main crop tubers are in the post and this time, suitably chitted, they are going into potato growing bags.
Thus, I can move them somewhere more sheltered if we get an abundance of rain and hopefully protect them against the mice more effectively too. No more sneaking up on my potatoes from tunnels under the cover of soil. No, this time those pesky rodents will have to emerge from their safe haven and attack from above the ground.
And to make it a bit more sporting they’ll be greeted with a barrage of traps. Peanut butter loaded traps. Michelin starred dining for a mouse.
If it all goes to plan next year I will plant my early varieties in potato bags too. In the meantime ‘Lady Christl’ and ‘Charlotte’ are going in the ground.
But before the mice resume tunnelling operations they had better pause for thought. I happened to read somewhere there is something they just can’t stand. So along with my seed potatoes I have purchased two spring garlic bulbs.
One clove per tuber, planted in alternating rows.
Will my early potatoes taste of garlic now, or might it actually work?