Akin All Avo

This Wednesday and Thursday the weather was warm enough to plant pohtatohes. These are the fruits of mah lay-bour:

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

In the top left corner, you can see my sewage cleaning facility, specifically, its last two stages, the gravel-reed-bed where the water is further cleaned after the anaerobic tank and the seeping pond where it seeps into the ground around the edges. The reeds grew especially big last year with some stalks exceeding 3 m in height and 1 cm in thickness, which is normally unheard of at my elevation. Hooray for global warming, I guess. Mowing them with a scythe was an extreme p.i.a.

You can also see the pollarded willow trees around the pond that are due for firewood harvest next winter, but for years I did not know what to do with the reeds so they just rotted slowly on the compost. Two years ago I tried to put them directly on top of planted potatoes before they get covered with dirt. And it worked well, it lightened up the heavy clay significantly that year and I had the biggest haul of potatoes from that patch that I ever got – over 200 kg. We had even trouble to give the taters away because of the Covid travel restrictions, so we have tried some ways to preserve them for longer storage. Which worked well, especially dried chips for soups – we have those still and they work great in combo with dried mushrooms.

Last year there were no potatoes but peas, beans, maize, and pumpkins, so the soil can recover somewhat. It did not yield 200 kg of edibles of course, but we got a few dinners out of it. This year it is potatoes again.

So I am trying to replicate the success. On the vegetable patch, you can now see nine full and two very short rows filled with shredded reed stalks. In the next days, they will be slowly covered with dirt to form mounds for the tubers to grow. Inorganic fertilizer was added over the winter in the form of several buckets of ash from the house-heating stove. Some organic fertilizer has been added now with these reed stalks and more will be added over the year in the form of mown grass and raked moss. I do hope the weather won’t be too dry, but the sewage cleaning facility should help significantly if it is, and it adds some nitrogen too since the system is not as effective at cleaning ammonia as it should.

A whole cycle from poop to food in one garden.

Today I wanted to work on knife sheaths, but I am aching all over and it is probably not just from the work. I have a slightly elevated temperature and a bit of sore throat and a mild dry cough. The weather was reasonably warm, but not really warm, so I guess I caught a bit of chill and now some strep is trying to get me. I do hope to be able to work tomorrow, I have a commission due in May and although I still have enough time, finishing sooner is always better than later.


  1. Jazzlet says

    A nifty set up!

    I’m a little surprised the willow withies didn’t just root as willows do root so freely, were they dried out before you put them over the potatoes? Oh minor thing, I think your willows are coppiced, rather than pollarded -- coppicing is done fairly near the ground, pollarding above the height cattle can reach. Coppicing is done where livestock can’t get at the new shoots, pollarding where they can. In the UK you tend to see pollarded willows along side streams and rivers, they help stabilise the banks, but let the cattle access the water, while still producing a crop of withies.

  2. Tethys says

    How nice and tidy, all ready for a new season!!
    It looks like you did a lot of work. It keeps snowing here, which is preventing me from getting the spring pruning and planting underway. I have sprouting potato’s all ready for soil that’s dry enough to dig. Perhaps I will try adding some fibrous organic in the row to see if it improves yields, assuming we don’t have drought again.

    Hope you recover quickly, and resume the commission. I look forward to pics. :)

  3. Rob Grigjanis says

    we have tried some ways to preserve them [potatoes] for longer storage.

    Well, you can get one litre of vodka (40% ABV) from 5 kg of spuds*. Vodka lasts for a long time (not in my house, though).

    *You’d also need 1 kg of malted barley, yeast, water, the right equipment, and a fair amount of time

  4. says

    Hey, I planted potatoes this week as well! Just not as many, just a few in the top terrace. I also sowed peas today.
    I remember my grandparents doing a similar crop rotation: the garden was two small fields divided by the garden path. Veggies and potatoes would alternate each year.

  5. says

    @Jazzlet, I do not put willow withies over the potatoes, those are shredded reed stalks. Willow twigs would definitively take root, but not if they were shredded first. Indeed wood chips are another way to lighten up heavy soil.
    @Tethys I do hope I recover quickly, but today I have spent the whole day in bed with a fever too. Judging by the symptoms I have bronchitis. It is getting slowly better, but if it does not go away completely by Tuesday, I will probably have to go to a doctor and get antibiotics (provided it is indeed bacterial).
    @Rob Grigjanis, Nah, for work, cleaning, and disinfection, denatured alcohol is cheaper. I have no other use for Vodka. In a sense it would thus last forever in my household, but I would not get anything out of it. I never liked hard liquor and probably never will..
    @Giliell, I wish you success with your few plants. Potatoes are rewarding vegetables to grow. I have decided against splitting the vegetable patch into two compartments because in my opinion, it would not be as effective at reducing pests and disease as a two-year complete rotation. Two patches separated by just a garden path would still provide continuous habitat to potato beetles and diseases.

  6. Jazzlet says

    @ Charly Oh reeds make much more sense!

    We are lucky in the UK not to have potato beetle, it’s a notifiable pest, and the rare occurances (always in the south) make the news with warnings for people in the locality to watch out for them. As far as diseases go we have found it really depends on the weather more than anything else, some years it’s just too wet at the critical time and we get blight to a greater or lesser extent, other years the weather is drier and we have no blight at all.

  7. avalus says

    Oh, I hope you get better soon :(

    Very cool! I planted a box of potates this weekend as well, the balcony is getting greeeeeen! Also I concur with jazzlet, this setup is indeed nifty.

  8. says

    What I hoped to be a one day in bed turned out to be four. Each day I had different symptoms. In fact, it was very similar to the flu that got me down two years ago, only sped up several times and much less severe. One day chest and body pain and mild fever, one day sore throat, cough and mild fever, and one day extreme sniffles and sore throat with swollen lymph nodes but without fever. Today I have no symptoms at all, except some dry cough now and then but that is normal after a respiratory illness and I expect to have that for a few more days at least. So it seems to be finally over.
    I do wonder whether it was perhaps Covid or the flu, but the swollen lymph nodes do fit a strep infection better. We shall never know, it started on a day off and ended on a day off. I will buy a self-test for Covid tomorrow.
    I also wonder whether my taking diligently vitamin D supplements these last two years has helped. Well, it definitively did not hurt.

  9. says

    I hope your health continues to improve. Yeah, even though Covid is still running rampage, let’s not forget that c the common cold keeps existing.

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