Growing Potatoes At Home Using Local Resources Part I: Genesis And Groundwork

in #photographylast month (edited)


Feb 2021

Flame and I move out of the city-centre and back to the outskirts, near the hills and woods. This is my old friend Shanti's territory and where I lived for a number of years. Shanti is graceful about sharing it with Flame and they get on like a coupla friendly bitches. There is a garden at the back and a smaller, sunnier garden at the front. Shanti's human, the DJ, agrees to let me convert half of it into an experimental vegetable garden. He also purchases a hoe and wheelbarrow for the job!


I'm delighted!

I ponder the issue. The garden is on a slope. I could build a terrace in the manner I learnt when in Portugal from where I returned last Summer but haven't (yet) consolidated my experiences into blog posts. It is also there that I met a little Flame :).

Mum takes me to get some compost and seed potatoes. She also has a stretch of wire fencing lying around which goes to the project.


March 2021

First things first, gotta make the place dog proof! I take the Samurai saw to the woods where I cut post-size sticks from a fallen Scots pine.



With posts firmly embedded in the ground and strengthened with surrounds of little stones and packed mud, I get on with the dog-proof fence.




BTW the third dog in the pic above is Ben the Nut, who happened to be visiting that day.

With the ultra-secure fence up and running, length absolutely perfect for the job - thanks mum - I start removing the top layer of turf with our brand new Chllington.






Realising that lots of heavy soil would not be taken away by the bin-men, I empty the brown bin out again and dry the clumps of turf in the sun. I shake out the dry soil after a few days and put the grass, weeds and roots back into the bin. This works out great and I get a few buckets of decent soil to mix in with compost and horse shit (later).





I feel terrible about the inevitable wormicide that results. I apologise to those I sever and remove those I spot before the blade comes down. Robin hops about devouring the massacred.

I finish taking most of the top layer of soil off. I leave the bottom few feet of the garden untouched. There are two rose bushes, some yellow tulips that bloom every year and loads of bright yellow dandelions that pop up randomly.


As for the ultra-secure dog-proof fence, well that's clearly working out just great ATM innit?


I don't mind TBH. They get in through the hedge which I can easily block. Shanti has a hard time getting back out again and has to come out the front, where the temporary fencing is. Besides, Flame enjoys sitting under the hedge and that's fine by me until planting time.


The height differential between the top and bottom of the cleared section is a few feet. The next task is to find material to build a stone terrace before levelling and prepping the soil prior to finally planting the tatties, which have been chitting away for a few weeks now....TBC...part II here

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All images @barge | Thanks for visiting 🙏

CameraNikon D200
LensNikon AF-S 40mm f2.8 MG
LocationEdinburgh, Scotland



Great photo essay Barge. I'm so happy to see that old camera / lens combo still producing such great stories.
Alsace sells her horse poo on Facebook. It's good shit! 💩

Haha, cool ask her to lemme know if demand gets too much and stocks begin to run oot 😂

You'll like a wee reference in part II, subtle as a handshake ;)

The dogsters are doing great and I've now got a van which I'm converting to a hoos...floor pretty much laid down. Catch up some time!?

Also please please don't mention the typo in the HSI banner at the very bottom of the post....I know I know I know..... just haven't yet rubbed it out. ;o)



Heavy duty!

Poor worms... love the third pup!
HIVE Regards Bruv! Happy planting!



You do beautiful work Bruv! Thank you for the shine!



I'm enjoying following your potato journey.

Your post has been featured in the Lotus Garden newsletter, which will be published tomorrow, and you've been selected as this week's beneficiary recipient.

You've been curated by @minismallholding for Natural Medicine's homesteading newsletter, supporting gardeners, permaculturalists, foragers, environmentalists and other earth centred relationships with the earth.

I'm delighted, thank you very much 🙏

taken yesterday :)

It's been so long since I've seen British soil! Never thought I'd appreciate that lovely dark mud so much. 😆 I hope the taters grow well. Lawns can take a lot out of the soil, but yours is looking pretty good.

The gardens (front and back) are both pretty wild as far as 'city' gardens go - completely unmanicured anyhow :). The grass gets cut 2/3 times per year and that's about it.

The soil became clay further down I went, but mixing it with compost (homemade and commercial) along with horseshit from the bridal paths around made it really nice. It's what I'm using for the 'earthing up'.

Also the primroses have been absolutely killing it this year - these guys below are from a little patch under the hedge near where Flame likes to sit. They've been around for a number of weeks and I've never seen them so happy - all lined up and waving :D.


We have clay here too. It's like concrete come summer.

Very generous of the bridle paths to help you out with nutrients. I guess you don't have to pick up after horses like you do with dogs, which is your gain.

Lol, yes indeed :)

Flame's pretty considerate and often poops off-piste in the woods. On the way back from Portugal last summer, before I'd begun my career as a pooperScooper, she dropped a couple of huge ones in the middle of Burgos. I didn't have anything to scoop with anyhow and we just walked on in glee. Nowadays I scoop from places other folk might step, also to avoid them cursing her/us in anger - I do my job with the jobbies!

Also in Portugal, I spent a few days shovelling horseshit. It's quality stuff and doesn't even smell bad.


I hope the potatoes do well for you. Typically they don't like following immediately after sod....

I'm keen to learn but I don't quite get what you mean by them not liking to follow immediately after sod. Pls explain. Is it to do with putting in horseshit too early?

I've been wondering about what I could add to the potatoes by way of nutrients, and indeed if I need to. I've got some 'compost juice' (liquid veg matter) which I'll add to the water once the earthing up is over.

Thanks for commenting. I appreciate any thoughts or pointers from you as I'm sure you will have plenty of experience :D.

Potatoes do not like the environment in the soil that previous sod leaves behind. It doesn't have anything to do with what you may be adding to the soil, just the conditions in the soil that sod creates.

Potatoes, like most plants, benefit greatly from balanced soil. You achieve that by doing a comprehensive soil test, and then amending the soil by what the test tells you. For more comprehensive understanding, see if you can find a copy of The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon.

Regarding compost tea or any more nitrogen adding things, I'd go easy on them. Nitrogen in excess weakens plants making them susceptible to pests and diseases.

Great, thank you for the tips and advice 🙏......I'm paying attention :D