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First crop in - Off in the distance
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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2010-06-01 11:57
Subject: First crop in
Security: Public
Mood:stiff
Tags:wimpole community farm
My Irish ancestry must be showing through, because I spent Sunday afternoon planting potatoes. Well, we did, with a bunch of other people.

We met up at 14:00, finding that at the time appointed, there was just us and the grower Richard, who we'd not met before. We assured him that others would probably turn up and, indeed, about a dozen of us were there in the end.

The soil was a lot softer than it was last time we were on the ground there. It's had had one late frost after the ploughing, but also two goes over it with a Rotavator to break it up, and it has a fine slightly-clayey texture.

(It's also noticeable how sheltered our two acres are. Just round the corner, it was blowy and blustery. But our area, which has mature trees on three sides, was almost still.)

Planting involved first working out where to put them. We had a tractor and a ridger available to us, and the decision ended up being to run the rows parallel to the western fence. The ridger is a three bladed plough, with each blade being double sided - in fact, rather the shape of a supertanker's bow from the top of the bulge upwards. The point runs along beneath the surface, and the blades behind that push the soil up and to the sides. With three of these blades, the ridger would produce two central ridges, and a smaller ridge to either side.

Richard had brought 4 sacks - a total of 100kg - of seed potatoes, which should have been 225 potatoes per sack. This would give us about 900 plants, so the idea went, or roughly a plant per week for each of 50 boxes over a 20 week season.

We started planting them at 30cm intervals along the tops of the ridges - and in fact, I was the first to do so, thus becoming the first person to plant anything. Once the first two ridges had been planted, Richard ran the tractor back down the rows, bringing up more soil to pile the ridges higher and cover the seeds that we'd placed there. We then went back down the rows making sure all the seed potatoes were properly covered, and hand covering any that hadn't been properly buried.

So it went. We finally ran pretty much out of the seed potatoes somewhat later than expected, and when we calculated how many had actually been planted into the soil, we came up with 16 rows, each ~130' long, totalling 2080 potatoes. (OK, 2096 because of the fencepost effect, but actually the accuracy ain't that close.)

And I now feel a little stiff in the back and legs.
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