Rain and frost are aspects of weather known to most. For the past two decades, while I’ve lived in Bellerive, I have seen an average of two minor frosts each year. Only occasional rain has fallen in all seasons, but never for more than three days in a row. Typically my soil has stayed dry below one centimetre all year. So 2021 has been surprising.
Despite living on a moderate slope, the ground throughout my garden is deeply wet. Good, you think? My self-sown potatoes don’t agree. They are showing signs of having a tough time and it’s not only the wetness that is bothering them.
When my kitchen vegetable scrap bucket is full, typically I take it out and deposit the contents beneath leaf litter, straw, mulch or I dig it under the soil and leave to disintegrate and give nutrients to the soil. The process works well and over the years the nature of the soil has been much improved across all parts of the garden. When preparing a meal, If I have potatoes with some green skin I cut off those sections and, it is these, which get recycled back under the mulch and then sprout and give me new unexpected crops in odd places. Despite the risks of introducing disease by this method of growing potatoes, mine have always survived, been robust, healthy and most tasty. Routinely potatoes are not planted all year around where frosts are expected. From my past experience here, the frosts here have been so moderate and so quickly dispersed I have never given them a thought in relation to potatoes. But this year I learnt something new when my garden was frozen white on too many mornings and super cold for too much of the day.
Last month when I ventured around the garden, I was stunned to see so many yellow leaved potatoes. Ahhhh ‘what is this’ I wondered. Then I thought a little, and realised the frost had affected the newer leaves.
I am delighted to say, the leaves were not blackened nor did they die. The great news is that potatoes are resilient. A couple of weeks on, all their leaves are again green, and the plants are flourishing. What effect it will have on the size and nature of the actual potato is yet to be seen.