Chitting Potatoes, Logging & Missing Cat Home!

Saturday’s plan was to make a start on putting up the new greenhouse but the fickle finger of fate intervened as it does. We’d had a frost, our first of the winter, and the weatherman is saying more is on the way. Val decided to bring the hebes (flowery things!) into shelter in case it gets really cold, so they’re sitting under the window in the cowshed.

Chitting Potatoes

My first task was to lay out the potatoes for chitting in the shed.  In past years they’ve been chitted in a cool, north-facing spare bedroom but we don’t have a spare bedroom since we moved. Now the shed windows face south, which means there’s too much light if anything and, of course, the temperature can vary more than in the house.

So, into seed trays as usual but covered with a horticultural fleece, folded loosely into 3 layers. This still allows enough light but shades them from strong sun and should protect them from getting too cold unless we start dropping towards last year’s ridiculous temperatures.

I’ve got Arran Pilot and Rocket, both first earlies and Maris Piper and Desiree which are maincrops. I’m not sure yet if blight is going to be a problem here. Goodness knows we get enough wet weather  causing the Smith periods that are ideal for growth of blight fungi but on the other hand, we’re pretty far from other sources of infection.

As a backstop, I’ve ordered some Sarpo Mira and Sarpo Kifli potatoes from Thompson & Morgan which are blight resistant. I’ve also ordered some Setanta from Marshalls which is a new variety supposed to be even better than Sarpo. Well, we’ll see so long as I get the raised beds sorted before planting time!


After a promising start, it managed to cloud over and the wind picked up a bit. One of those lazy winds that goes through you rather than around you. The clouds threatened rain so went onto moving logs from the orchard into the wood store. Ash has a reputation as the best fire wood you can have, you’re even supposed to be able to burn it green. However, as with all wood, the dryer the better for burning. It’s about 30 to 35% on the moisture meter and the ideal is 20%

Actually I could have done with logging the ash a couple of months ago, I’m running down on seasoned wood for the stove and it would be a shame to have to buy in some logs when we’ve so much green wood around the place.

Missing Cat Home!!

I rang Freshfields animal rescue this morning and spoke to Lesley Tarleton who founded the charity. She was so sympathetic and genuine. I’ve met some charity people who seem to be in it for their ego but Lesley is in it for the animals. She offered to try and get the story in the local paper for us to help.  So I spent the morning sorting out photos and putting together quotes that they might use about how we were missing her.

Then this evening she just walked in as if nothing had happened. Not even very hungry despite me opening a tin of Gourmet – the really good stuff and only for treats or poorly cats. She took a quick wander around the house and settled in to sleep by the fire. We’re so relieved and happy.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
15 comments on “Chitting Potatoes, Logging & Missing Cat Home!
  1. Geordie says:

    Great news about amber – are you going to keep her in from now?

    Is it possible she she may have been locked in somewhere?

    If our cat only got Gourmet on treat or missing days he’d leave home! He’s a proper fusspot. lol

  2. Linda says:

    I am pleased your cat is back.I wonder where she had been

  3. John says:

    I’ve no idea where she got to but she wasn’t hungry on her return. She’s keeping close, slept with me and followed me to the loo and back in the middle of the night.

    We won’t be keeping her in, just not practical with the rest using the cat flap and besides, she loves going out. We’re just so lucky and happy to get her back

  4. The Mulch says:

    Genuinly happy for you about Amber. My poor Felix was run down last Wednesday outside our home. We are all missing him dearly.

  5. lesley tarleton says:

    Hi John,
    I hope Amber is still staying close to home, it would be unbearable if she were to go walkabouts again!
    I have been reading about Samphire, a vegetable I had never previously heard of, can you grow this on your allotment and if so I bags a sample of the first batch.
    I would love to give it a try, have you?

  6. John says:

    I thought samphire was a wild plant – never tried growing it.

  7. Jenn says:

    I’ve just found your website & your helpful diary. We’re hoping to properly set up our vegetable beds and orchard this year & will likely be following your every move – we live in the same county I think, so we’ll be relying on your experience for planting times. Hope you don’t mind having another web-stalker 🙂

    We have a rescue blind cat too – she’s called Ruby (Weird – Ruby and Amber – both colours & gems) and is only really happy when she’s outside. We can’t keep her in and we don’t even have a catflap. We have a radio collar for her.

    Last winter she went missing, it was so cold out & we thought we’d lost her through hypothermia if nothing else, but then after 5 days she came padding up our field towards the house. We don’t know where she had been, but she was hungry.

  8. Stephen Harding says:

    Samphire seeds can be purchased from D T Brown seeds. I have bought some for this year. They suggest growing them in a planter or pot as you have to water them with salty water. I have never grown them before but nothing ventured…….

  9. Jayne says:

    I came here this morning, looking for general advice on when to plant veg but my eye quickly went to your missing cat entry! I’m so thrilled for you that Amber turned up safe and sound – I know from experience how worrying it is when they go on a ‘walkabout’.
    I think your site is going to be a useful resource for me as regards veggie gardening…albeit mine is of the ‘grow it in a pot’ variety. 🙂

  10. jerry faulkner says:

    Any cat left outside will eventually be road kill. Be kind to your kitty
    keep it inside. It makes for good neighbors too.

    • John says:

      @jerry faulkner: Jerry, you’re so wrong (sorry)
      1) Yes, urban cats are at very high risk but cats can gain ‘road sense’
      2) Cats generally prefer being able to roam – they’re free rangers.
      3) We’re a ways from the road in the country which is quiet anyway and generally our cats roam to the back which is open fields and moorland.
      4) Our cats also work as pest controllers – keeping down the mice and rabbits. Many of the farmers here feed and encourage feral cats for that reason.

      It’s all down to where you are – if we lived on a busy road in the city then I’d keep them locked up.

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