BEFORE I BEGIN…DON’T FORGET that this Saturday 21st July is the Hand Knitters Guild Trash and Treasure sale and I’ll be selling my hand dyed yarn and hand made tea cosies and some gorgeous cupcakes. So if you live in Adelaide (or even if you don’t) come along and buy something or at least come and have a look. The sale will be in the Unley RSL hall on Arthur St Unley from 10am to 4pm.
OK, now that I have that out of the way…this week I’ll describe and give the pattern for my left overs socks, show off some of our potato crop and explain how to grow them.
LEFT OVERS SOCKS
I love making things out of left overs. A long time ago I had a pair of patchwork trousers made out of fabric samples and last year I had a pattern in Yarn magazine for a jumper made out of a bag of assorted acrylic yarn from my Auntie’s shed. I’ve made lots of socks over the last few years and have plenty of left overs and some unused sock yarn. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a pair of socks from left over sock yarn for a while now and the Hand Knitters Guild “20” competition gave me the push I needed to make a start. (The Guild will be turning 20 in a few months and to celebrate there is competition for knitted creations with a theme of “20”.)
Waste not, want not…don’t let your left over sock wool go to waste.
If you want the pattern, go the Free Patterns Page.
GROW YOUR OWN POTATOES
We find that in Adelaide’s Mediterranean climate we can grow potatoes almost all year round. They are generally considered a mid-season crop, grown in autumn and spring, and dislike very hot and very cold weather, especially hard frost. In our backyard, we grow them whenever we feel like it excepting mid summer. We have had some very cold temperatures over night lately, such as 0 and 2 degrees but our potatoes have not suffered. In fact, one of the plants in a raised bed was ready so we dug it up and found heaps of beautiful kipfler potatoes. We always forget which varieties we plant where and so we usually get a surprise when we dig them.
HOW TO GROW POTATOES
Potatoes are pretty easy to grow. They like plenty of sun, water and food to produce a good crop. To start, all you need to do is put a small potato in the ground. Dig a hole about 20cm deep, put a potato in the hole and cover it with some compost to about 10cm. Water it and wait for it to grow. When the leaves are just above ground level, fill in the hole with some more compost. Water it regularly but don’t drown it; the soil should be damp, not wet or dry. When the plant is about 30cm above the ground pile lots of mulch and compost around it up to the top 10cm of the plant. Keep watering it and feed it if you think it needs it. As the plant grows, keep piling up the mulch and compost around it. After 2-3 months the plant will flower and then start to get brown and dry and it will look like it is dying. When it looks dead and shrivelled, your potatoes are ready. Dig up the plant and you’ll find several potatoes around the base of the plant. Since they send roots out to the side, dig around the plant as well to find any more potatoes. Put the potatoes in a dry place out doors for several hours, but not in direct sun, to let them dry and harden slightly. After this, store them in a cool, dark, dry place. You can plant a potato that you buy in a grocery shop or you can buy seed potatoes from a garden supplier. I’ve done both and both work just as well as the other. It is better not to plant a potato that you have grown yourself because diseases can build up in your plants over a couple of generations.
Why all the piling up of mulch and compost? The compost is partly to feed the plant but mostly the piling up is done so that no light can get to the forming potatoes and turn them green and poisonous and so that more potatoes can be formed on the stems that are covered up.
If you want baby new potatoes with tender skin, pick your potatoes when the plant is flowering. You can easily rummage around the base of the plant and pick a couple of new potatoes as you want them too.
Why bother growing potatoes when they are so cheap at the supermarket? Commercially grown potatoes have more chemicals used to grow them than any other vegetable. The ground is sprayed even before they are planted and they are frequently sprayed with chemicals and fed chemical fertilizer during growing. Homegrown potatoes taste fantastic. They are less watery and starchy than those commercially grown and have a wonderful rich texture. They taste like a potato should and are great to cook with. You can taste the difference between the different varieties too. When you pick them, it is like finding buried treasure and kind of exciting (I know, small things amuse small minds, but I like to think of it as a simple pleasure).
NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO PLANT…lettuces. Lettuces like cooler temperatures. Plant some seedlings now for salads in spring.
That’ll do for this week. Stay warm (or cool if you live in the north).