Free-range Potatoes

For a long time I have planned to have a brilliant compost heap, full of bedding from the hens to add valuable nitrogen and carbon; chopped garden waste; grass clippings from the areas the guinea pigs can’t graze; casts from the wormery, providing a home for thousands of woodlice, spiders, and maybe even a slowworm or two.

I never quite achieved this as the rats loved it as a warm spot to breed many young, and the hens quickly learned how to traverse my rather inept attempt at an enclosure, so it just got kicked and scuffed around the garden. I have been asked to remove the compost heaps before I leave the property next month, so I have been wondering what to do to make best use of this valuable – if not exactly textbook standard – compost.

I lobbed some going-green potatoes during the summer in to the heap, which I presumed had not made it after the record-breaking heatwave we had as potatoes like moisture, and I couldn’t get at them anyway as the nettles and brambles and bindweed did a fabulous job of covering the entire heap.

Imagine my joy and surprise to find a treasure trove of potatoes as I started to peel back the vegetation and dig around in the roots.

My cunning plan to a) retain some of this earthy goodness at my new home and b) save distributing and relocating more than I have to involves using two of my old recycling bins. Previously, we were required to put glass in to a separate bin but now it all goes in the one, hence them being surplus to requirements. They can’t be recycled so would have to be thrown away, so I have filled them with compost and planted some of the potatoes. I have sown some phacelia seed on the top in case we have a mild autumn and the green manure germinates.

I was absolutely ravenous after all the forking and wheelbarrowing, so I thought the best way to check the quality of the potatoes was to mash them and stick some bangers from our local butcher on the side…

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