Farewell Willow Cat, Last Potatoes, Gigantes, Cherry

It’s been a sad time for us as we lost our Willow cat to cancer. The tumour must have been developing for some time but she showed no signs until the last couple of days. Being as she was in pain which the vet said would get worse and they couldn’t control, we said farewell. She went in my arms and is at rest under a tree.

Ginger and White Cat Willow

Willow cat in happier times. She looked much the same when she died.

Last Potatoes Harvested

The last potatoes are lifted now and they surprised me. Normally I grow Sarpo Mira as a ‘banker’. A banker is a variety you can bank on, a variety that will produce a good crop when others fail. This was the 2008 bank collapse!

Sarpo Mira is a real thug. It grows so vigorously that weeds just get shaded out. That’s a useful property when weed pressure is high or starting a new patch. It’s blight resistance is the biggest plus point. One year my Miras were about the only potatoes unaffected by blight on the entire allotment site.

Not this year. The Mira were quite badly affected by the blight. I was expecting a wheelbarrow full or more but ended up with about a quarter of that. Much of what was harvested was blighted and the yield was very sub par to start with. Yes, the bank crashed.

The thing is that Sarpo Mira are blight resistant, not blight immune. Like flu, blight changes year to year and this year the Mira’s immunity took a pasting. Strangely, I’d planted another of the Sarpo family, Kifli and that seems to have done very well, thank you!

From about a third of the area given over to Mira, Kifli yielded about double the harvest. The Kifli were in a raised bed and the foliage died down whilst we were incapacitated with the Covid. So the blight didn’t have anything to attack.

About half of the last potatoes. Cara sacked up and had her share before I took this photo. L to R: Kifli Salad Blue Mira

Gigantes Runner Beans

Because of the humidity we’ve ‘enjoyed’ this year, some of the gigantes pods were growing mould rather than drying out as I hoped. Anyway, Stuart had commented on storing the beans in the freezer rather than drying them so I cleared every pod, green as well as brown. This yielded just under a kilo of beans. Bagged into 250 grams and frozen.

Our total yield has been about 1.5 kg from 7 plants, which isn’t too shabby.

Cherry Trees Chopped

I had two cooking cherries planted by the old pigsty. They’ve given me just two cherries over the last decade and they overshadowed the redcurrant bushes. They were supposed to be on a dwarfing rootstock but I don’t think they were.

We had a Stella on Colt before we moved and it produced well without getting too large. Cherries can become very big trees – hence the need for a dwarfing rootstock. It’s a shame, cherries are a favourite of mine but they really don’t like the conditions here. Even the Cariad cherry in the polytunnel was a fail.

Their wood will be keeping us warm when its dried out, so not a total loss.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
24 comments on “Farewell Willow Cat, Last Potatoes, Gigantes, Cherry
  1. Stephen Cooke says:

    So sorry to hear about Willow. As a fellow cat owner I understand completely the sadness and loss felt. You just have to think about the pleasure you have given each other.

  2. Christopher Faulkner Gibson says:

    So sorry for your loss John. We lost our little Molly on Tuesday after a short but terminal illness. She was a rescue cat we got 16 years ago. We too were with her at the end – always difficult, but you can’t let a much-loved pet die alone in the company of strangers. The house now feels so empty but the allotment is a great place for healing.

    • John Harrison says:

      Hello Christopher – sorry to hear you lost Molly. I still expect to see Willow in a morning and then remember, expect you’re the same. Like Molly, Willow was a rescue, it’s some consolation that we gave them a good life.

  3. Mick Doherty says:

    So sorry for your loss of Willow. We have our pets for only a short time but they live on in our memory.

  4. Kathryn Teresa Smales says:

    I echo the comments above. So sorry that Willow has died, but at least you know she is not in pain or suffering.

  5. Ian Trueman says:

    Sorry to hear about your Sarpo Mira blight (and your cat). You probably already know this, but Sarpo Mira is NOT AT ALL tolerant of blight on the tubers, which has led me to have to throw away quite a proportion in the winter in the past, even though the haulm looked almost blight-free. Your advice of removing the haulm a week or two before harvest certainly helps.

    • John Harrison says:

      Hello Ian – the potato database ranks Mira 7 for foliar blight and 9 for tuber blight (1 is worst, 10 is best). But the blight changes each year and how affected the potato is. This year has been particularly wet and humid for many of us, a bad blight year.

  6. Mr Craig Mcdonald says:

    RIP Willow you’re in cats Heaven now, god bless you It’s always a sad time when our lovely pets pass away

  7. Alice Scanlon says:

    Sorry John about the loss of Willow. God bless,fly high over the Rainbow Bridge little furbaby. Use those brand new wings well.

  8. Tracy Chadfield says:

    I have just read about Willow in your (fantastic) newsletter and as a fellow pet owner, I wanted to send my condolences. It’s an awful pain to bear.

  9. Marilyn Graves says:

    So sorry to hear about Willow Cat. What a beautiful photo. We were devastated when our cats died. Time is a great healer but our beloved pets stay in our hearts.

  10. Petra Makela says:

    So sorry for the loss of your Molly, a beautiful girl.
    Many happy memories together, I’m sure.

  11. Colin Goodier Haworth says:

    I gave up growing potatoes a few years ago because of the blight:I’m on 2 foot of clay overlying sand which I discovered when double digging, which I’ve given up in preference to compost and mowings overlying cardboard. My last crop included several Sarpo varieties all of which succumbed, and as they say blight lodges in the ground for years and also because I have a good potato farmer down the road I visit him instead.
    Sorry about Willow. I’m a Staffie dog lover so my heart is broken every final vet’s visit.

  12. Julie Elaine Harbottle says:

    So sorry, we lost one of our 3 cats in January to a similar thing. Grief isn’t linear just try and focus on all the joy they gave you. I have just got an allotment 253 square meters of nothing except 3 foot of grass and weeds. Soil is clayey but looks good as hasn’t been worked since 2015. Thinking about a no dig approach any advice?

  13. Ros Blunden says:

    So sorry to hear you have lost Willow. As a cat owner I know how you are feeling, we lost one of our cats beginning of October he was 16 years . I’m sure you gave each other lot of love. Willow may gave left your life but will never leave your Heart it’s the memories we have of our beautiful furbabies

  14. Barry Roberts says:

    Hi John, like everyone else in the Garden Community, i would also like to say sorry for the loss of your beloved Cat Willow, Cats and Dogs are not just pets to us they are in the long run family, so a loss is like losing a family member.
    I hope you and your family are well in this sad time.

  15. Sarah Thomas says:

    So sorry to hear that you have lost Willow. The lives of our animal companions are so short, but they are members of the family. They give so much while they are with us, and it is painfully sad when they go. My thoughts are with you.

  16. Fran says:

    Sorry to hear about Willow its very sad losing something dear to you ,l had a Cat for 19yrs and he just left and died at least you said a goodbye breaks your heart . ♥️
    I am having so much trouble with my cauliflowers slugs eating them l have sprayed and put slug pellets down but with no success, my Aubragines are still growing l am very surprised covered them with plastic sheets and used strong clips to keep out wind and rain and 2 tee lights in there for warmth they are looking very healthy indeed awaiting the frost .

  17. Carol says:

    So sorry to hear that Willow has gone.
    No doubt she had a very kind and happy home as part of your family.
    I am sorry for your loss.

  18. nigel cansfield says:

    just catching up on your newsletters after a holiday and I’m so very sorry to hear about your cat

  19. Alison Hayyes says:

    Very sorry for your loss. RIP Willow

  20. Lesley Stone says:

    Such sad news, but you gave her the best life and will never be forgotten.

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