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A long time ago in a garden far far away

By Spalding Today Columnist


Many, many moons ago, right at the beginning of my journey into gardening, I decided to have a go at growing my own potatoes. I’d picked the variety Charlotte, as Graham from Baytree had advised me that they were easy to grow and disease resistant.

Stage one involved chitting my potatoes in an old egg box in my back bedroom. Stage two saw me plant my fully-chitted potatoes into a large pot filled with Westland’s Multipurpose Compost with added John Innes.

Fast forward three months and my potatoes had gone into labour; their contractions where roughly one minute apart and considering they hadn’t had any gas and air they were doing quite well.

Okay I thought, what to do now is not to panic I must remain calm in order to successfully birth my first crop of potatoes. I’m not going to lose any potatoes on my watch.

Anyhow, after putting my gloves and surgical mask on, I was ready for the final push.

Stage three was tense - it began with me gently placing my hands in the soil and feeling around for my potatoes. I didn’t have to fumble about in the soil for long before I realised I may have double quadruplets.

I asked my wife Claire to mop the sweat from my brow. It was all getting very serious. With my heart thumping out of my chest, I gently tipped the pot containing my potatoes onto a small plastic birthing sheet to my side.

I carefully and sensitively wiped the loose soil away to reveal a dozen perfectly-formed beautiful potatoes. A small tear rolled down my cheek. Choking back further tears, I asked Claire to pass me a pair of scissors so I could cut each of the umbilical cords. Clearly moved by the emotion of the occasion, Claire gave me a sympathetic smile.

I placed my new-born potatoes in a small warm towel - like they do in John Wayne films - and carried them into the house.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, we lost the potatoes' mother. I think the stress of the labour was just too much for her. I said a few kind words about her, then ceremoniously placed her on the compost heap, a bit like when Luke Skywalker placed Darth Vader onto the funeral pyre in Return of the Jedi.

With my new midwifery skills and with the latest advances in technology, I am hoping to birth the other two potato plants tomorrow. Wish me luck.


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