8 December 2012

Vegetable Knowledge

Virginia Woolf in a great hat with Angelica Bell

 I'm a bit miffed that I've not posted for a while. I haven't managed to keep up with the self-imposed posting schedule of one every other day. Of course, winter would always be a challenge, what with it being the season of hibernation and dormancy, but that is not the only reason for the lack of posts.

The room with the big computer on which I prefer to work, because it has a wide screen and comfy chair, is cold and dark. It is where the permanently loaded clothes horses are kept and is crammed with folders and books, a sewing machine, bags of scrap material, boxes of paints and past art projects, the 'to be ironed' pile, and the 'only used on Sundays and Christmas day' dining table. The room is not nice, and nowhere anyone would want to spend an afternoon.

It is telling that nearly a century after Virginia Woolf noted women do not have enough power in their homes to claim a room for themselves the situation remains. I know of other women who have to practice what is important to them in the smallest, darkest, most awkward room in the house.

But enough feminist musings ... let me tell you of my new vegetable knowledge.

The organic growing course in Debdale has been very enjoyable and inspiring. Lately we have been learning about sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings. I'm a dab hand with a dibber now.

Now don’t you go thinking vegetable growing a dull topic – the other week I was shocked to my core, and still haven’t quite recovered: leek seedlings are planted in holes in the ground and NOT covered over with soil! They seem so thin and vulnerable to be treated this way. My mothering instincts are yelling ‘won’t someone protect the leeks?!’

leek seedling planting out
A deep hole is dug and the little leek is popped in.

Watering it swishes some earth around its base, but otherwise it is left to fend for itself.
Of course the reason is to encourage the growth of the white bit.

diagram of leek inside loo roll holder
Another method is to plant them out inside loo roll holders to keep the stalks straight and white.
Interesting. Might try this in Allotment 90.
Less shocking but equally intriguing are carrot seedlings. Did you know it is recommended that you plant the seeds directly into the ground rather than germinating the seeds in trays? This is because there is a danger of damaging the root when you wrestle the tiny seedling out of its cell and man-handle it into the ground. If it is broken the adult root will grow gnarly with a likelihood of a photo of it being uploaded onto Facebook as yet another 'rude vegetable'.
diagram of carrot roots
 And my final piece of ignorance is potatoes. I didn't know until this week that new potatoes grew from the stalk of the plant and not the original seed potato.