Thursday, 14 March 2013

In search of some good shit-spuds not drugs before you ask

some of Mikes cows having a snack in the yard
Mike has been promising me for ages to drop a great big load of his finest cow shit up to the house. And while I have been thrilled and delighted at the prospect my other half is less than impressed wondering out loud what the hell we will do with a large trailer load of the stuff and put off by the very idea of a pile of shit sitting on the driveway for any length of time. It's at moments like these that you can tell the farming kids from the townies. Guess which one of us is which?

Anyway the pressure was on on Saturday as I had my first Earlie's chitted, it was a root day, and to top it all off the day dawned gloriously bright and sunny.After a trip to the Market (where we met a very hung over Martin setting up his stall), and a trip to the recycling centre for polystyrene for Seamuses giant propagator project we arrived in Mikes yard eager to start filling bags. The stuff near the gate was new, very strawed looking but after valuting over the gate in true farming style we walked around the pile and found the motherload next to the end wall. This was what I was after- dark black stuff with tufts of grass growing on it in places.

bedding waste from the winter calf sheds
Of course as soon as we got out of the van the sky opened. I think its some type of Murphy's law that the day can be spectacular until you go OUTSIDE to do a bit of work, then a cloud (or several) appear overhead and drowned you! We sat it out for ten minutes, realised it wasn't going to improve, if anything the day was disintegrating before our eyes (the start of what was a truly brutal three days of blizzards and biting cold) so we suited up and headed back out.

Mike appeared and tried to talk us out of filling bags, he plans to clear this whole yard in the next few weeks. We eventually managed to persuade him that we were just taking a few bags to keep us going for now and he can turn up with the trailer load whenever he gets a chance. I know he is always working flat out so I feel bad to even drag him 7-8 miles out of his way on a tractor to drop off shit of all things, but he was really insistent.I negotiated for the 2 year old stuff nearest the wall. Once we started to dig into it we found we had struck gold; black, rich, well rotted and crawling with fat tiger worms-perfect stuff!

A bag full of the finest shit in Limerick!
This vintage stuff doesn't smell, its quite dense and very rich in nitrogen-perfect for the first Earlie's.As an added bonus all those wonderful worms are a great addition to the soil. If you go to a yard to pick out manure its amazing how often the farmer offers you the fresh stuff! but never bring the fresh stuff, unless you can afford to cover and leave it for another 6 months to 1 year, (and you can bear the aroma!). I quite like the smel of cow shit I must say, in the words of my fellow country woman Annmarie Moore from Durrow Co. Laois " Ah the smell of shit, you know youre home!".

Off we went several bags later to plant spuds in what was becoming a cold and bitter afternoon. The usual row began about staggered rows or drills, this time we went for rows and it left me feeling completely dissatisfied! I much prefer staggered rows. Anyway we will see if it affects the yields in any way. My first earlies are Aaran Pilot, Duke of York, Sharpes Express and Maris Bard. I usually only sow a few of each, harbouring a morbid fear of growing rows and rows of spuds that I cant stand the taste of. I get my students to do the same thing, so later in June we can try out as many varieties as possible.

Spud in the ground
The good news is that this Paddys Day March 17th is not only a traditional day for planting your spuds but the signs are especially good this year, something about the earth sign Taurus and the Moon sharing the day? Anyway what ever you are in to spud sowing season has offically begun, next week its on to second earlies and maincrops. Happy St Patricks to you all!

No comments:

Post a Comment