Last year I lost a lot of our stored potatoes to rats and mice. Their seemed to be a lot about outside last year and some got into the old cow shed. It’s amazing how much damage rats can do without being obvious.
At one time our rodent controllers would have sorted them before they became a problem but now they’re, like me, getting older. Lotty used to be a prolific top hunter. In one day she presented us with 4 partly eaten rabbits but now she hunts her cat food which doesn’t run away.
So I built a large box from thick ply with ventilation to hopefully keep the potatoes safe. If I see any sign of them reappearing and trying to get into the storage box I’ll set up traps.
Being as we had a stormy day with horizontal rain, decided to go through the stored potatoes and put the latest harvest into store. Took all the sacks out of the box, emptied them and removed any that were rotting.
There weren’t many but it’s important to get them out quickly or the rot will spread. It doesn’t take long to lose the sackful.
Next I went through the wheelbarrow full of Sarpo Axona. When they were lifted it was a dry day but the ground was sodden so they were fairly dirty. Settled down with a hand brush and cleaned each one.
OK, time consuming but it enabled me to detect any signs of blight developing in the tubers. Hopefully I’ve got them all but I’ll recheck for blight in a month.
The Orla also got the thick swept off. No blight but some had damage and holes where some bug had got in. Maybe 3 kilos but they’re in the ‘use first and soon’ bag. I don’t worry about insect damage with Axona. They’re quite dense and any damage is minimal plus damaged tubers tend to store well regardless. Not the same for the Orla.
So the potato store box is now absolutely full. And we’ve still got the Sarpo Mira to harvest.
The runners are near the end. The pods are becoming very tough and woody if not harvested early. They’ve not done well for us this year but the French beans more than compensated.
Rather than digging them up, I’ll cut the foliage off at ground level and leave the roots. If the bean roots have nodules on them, these will contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Leaving the roots provides an inoculant for other legumes planted next year and adds a little nitrogen to the soil. The roots will rot down over time adding humus to the soil.
There is another option – just leaving the beans until the frosts come. Inside the pods the actual beans will develop. These can be used like haricots in dishes. I’m not doing that this year because I’ll want the space and I’ve grown gigante runner beans in the polytunnel.
Gigante (aka Gigandes) Runner Beans
Gigantes are a runner that is grown particularly for the bean. They’re the basis of the classic Greek dish, Gigantes Plaki. The white coloured beans are large, as the name suggests. They’ve a good flavour too.
Being as they’re grown for the bean which takes a while, they need a long warm season to finish. This is when the pods become dry and papery. Immature but developed beans can be kept in the freezer.
I grew them in the polytunnel which provided warmth but planted by the doors so they were available for insect pollination. That, at least worked to a degree. Lots of pods but the weather was very cool in July & August.
Sadly I had really poor germination of 7 plants (about 20%) but they’ve heavy croppers. There’s a lot still on the plants so hopefully we’ll double or triple the 500 grams yield from this first picking.
Recipe for Gigantes Plaki
500 gr Gigantes beans (If dried, pre-soak overnight)
2 white onions
4 or more cloves of garlic
800 gr tomatoes (or two tins chopped tomatoes)
1 or 2 tbsp tomato puree
0.5 ltr vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp chilli powder
- Chop the onions, crush the garlic and gently fry in olive oil until softened.
- Skin the tomatoes, chop or crush whichever is easiest.
- Put all the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours. Or cook on the stove top or in the oven on a very low heat. Great for haybox cooking.
- Check seasoning and add more salt if required and some black pepper at the end, serve with crusty rolls as a main dish or serve as a side dish.
Will keep in the fridge in an airtight container at 5ºC for up to 5 days. Will freeze for long term storage.
I’ve been doing a bit in the kitchen when it’s raining. Val’s the expert but occasionally she lets me play with her toys. I tend to find recipes and then adapt them to suit what we have and how I feel.
This recipe for Greek Style Green Beans works well with runner beans that have been sliced finely with the bean slicer. I tend to use more tomato than the recipe calls for. It makes about three portions for us. One for now and two to freeze.
Being as we had a glut of tomatoes and courgettes, this recipe caught my eye: Tomato and Courgette Glut Soup Recipe. It became the basis for a glut soup by the time I’d added some ‘bottom of the fridge’ carrots and a few potatoes to thicken. No milk or cream though.
We went to the supermarket playing hunt the reductions and they’d got a large salmon head for 6p. There’s not much meat on a fish head but it added to a carrot, tomato and bits soup.