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Richard Cadey Richard Cadey | 14:15 UK time, Friday, 8 July 2011

This week I have mostly been eating potatoes. No ordinary potatoes mind, oh no, my potatoes, grown by me and cooked by me, fresh from my garden! Oh yes, and what a marvellous feeling to eat something you've grown yourself, very satisfying indeed and so tasty.

Richard and his potatoes

Richard and his potatoes

Forgive the temporary lapse into smugness, but as if to emphasise the fickleness of Mother Nature, when my gardening guru Craig Holland turned up for last Monday's weekly garden item on MacAulay & Co, he took the kind of sharp intake of breath usually reserved by builders for when they're asked to give a quote on a new damp course. The reason for his concerns was the yellowing foliage with black markings of some of my potato plants, usually a tell-tale sign of blight - bad news for potatoes and potato lovers the world over! The result of this disease can reduce your crop to mush; not mash you understand, MUSH! Ignoring the lack of flowering on the foliage, the usual sign of potatoes being ready for harvest, Craig advised a test dig. Not one to argue with a Guru of any description, I agreed and we nervously lifted one of the plants, taking care not to skewer any potential tatties with the fork we were using. As the soil shook from the roots the tatties slowly revealed themselves in all their splendid glory and I gave a somewhat unnecessary celebratory punch of the air.

I then set about lifting the rest of my crop and although we fell short of our predictions of around 300 potatoes, (by the small matter of about 200), Craig and Fred were very impressed at my first attempt at growing veg. Explanations as to why we didn't reap the full extent of the original estimate were possibly because of the cramped planting of my tattie crop (this was down to a miscalculation on my part somewhat akin to that of a Greek finance minister) as well as the extremely wet weather that we've experienced this year. Once lifted, the potatoes should be stored in a cool dry place, and preferably in a hessian sack, or alternatively an old laundry basket - take care to remove the old laundry first...ahem.

I was thrilled to have my very own tatties and set about serving them boiled with lemon juice and mint fresh from my herb garden. I'm like Monty Don and Nigella Lawson all rolled into one....well sort of...My tatties are called Epicures, but there are many varieties on the market including one called Vivaldi; are they called this because they're good for the four seasons, I wonder? A question for the Guru perhaps...'til next week, happy gardening!


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