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  • Writer's pictureSofias Country Gardens

Peas and potatoes

Alma the scarecrow watching the potatoes grow

This year again, as always in fact, I'm filling almost half of the garden with peas, beans and potatoes. I love peas and beans, and it brings me great joy to fill the freezer with these staple goods for the long winter when all there is to do is eat and sleep. Potatoes are a different matter. For many years I viewed them as a necessary evil in the garden; something I was expected to grow but didn't really enjoy. But then I found purple potatoes, and discovered the humble art of making potato salads, and now it is with great joy that I grow the humble spuds. This year I'm trying out a new variety called Purple Queen, pictured above, which is a smaller sized midseason purple potato.

Blauwschokker beauty!

Blauwschokker and the old farmhouse

My favourite pea is of course the reliable climbing pea Blauwschokker. It has the most beautiful flowers in colours ranging from pale violet to purple-pink, and just enjoying them is a favourite pastime when watering the garden in the evening. As soon as the flowering is almost over the purple pea pods start to develop, and within a few weeks they hang in abundance amongst the climbing tendrils of the plant. They are perfectly edible as mange tout, and equally great when left to mature eaten fresh with a know of butter. They also keep well as frozen or dried for use later in the season. It truly is my favourite allrounder!!

Blauwschokker developing a pod

Blauschokker pea pod

Flowering Blauwschokker

The other variety of peas growing in my garden this year is De Bolsters Organic variety First Early May. I always want to try new things, and this is the first time I'm growing this variety. It is also a climbing variety, and apparently a great one at that with abundant seed germination and disease free vigour in the plants. Actually, I underestimated the abundance and vigour and planted the peas too close to each other resulting in an absolute jungle!! I should have thinned them out, but alas... some things are left too late and now I am waiting for the first to mature before tackling this mess.

Eerste Vroege Mei pea

First Early May

Naughty potatoes underneath the peas

Last year, if you remember, I grew Blue Salad variety potatoes. Although I harvested as thoroughly as possible, and actually dug over the bed to remove any wayward spuds, of course some naughty individuals were left! As I have a crop rotation system, this year the potato bed of last season is filled with peas, and consequently the promiscuous Blue Salad potatoes are turning up here and there... I was going to remove them asap, but then I thought oh well, I may just as well leave them a bit and harvest after the peas are done.

Naughty Salad Blue

Salad Blue flowers

Salad Blue flowers in detail

In the other end of the potato patch I am growing sweetcorn, and beyond them a rowdy row of Marigolds, Calendula. I love this simple flower for its charm and happy colourful appearance, and grow it every year as a companion plant in the vegetable garden. I don't know if companion planting actually works, but seeing how much hoverflies and other beneficial insets love Marigolds at least it can do no harm. Once the flowers are done, I collect the seeds for next year and so it brings perpetual joy in my kitchen garden. Happy evening to you!

Marigolds for the insects

Marigold heaven

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