Posts tagged ‘potato’

March 26, 2012

Planting Potatoes in Plastic Bags

by Ciaran Burke

Harvesting New Potatoes

Early potato tubers are usually chitted before being planted outside. This involves placing the tubers in a well lit, frost free place. The shoots develop from the eyes of the tuber and will then be planted outside when the soil has warmed to 6° Celcius.

Early varieties take between 75 – 90 days to mature. Harvesting can start in early summer. Irish people use St Patrick’s Day, 17th March, as the date by which you must have the early potatoes planted.

Not everyone has space for planting potatoes, in fact not everyone has a garden. However, just about everyone can enjoy harvesting a few of their home grown potatoes in summer using old plastic compost bags for planting. To obtain an earlier crop, tubers can be planted in a tunnel or glasshouse. Tubs or barrels can also be used. I decided to re-use a couple of old plastic compost bags. Here is what I did:

Step 1: I turned the bags inside out to reveal their dark side which attracts more heat, and looks nicer. I rolled down the bag so as to allow light for the shoots when they grow. Into the base of the bags I made a number of slits to allow drainage.

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- 10 CM LAYER OF COMPOST IN BAGS

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- 10 CM LAYER OF COMPOST IN BAGS

Step 2: From our compost heap I got a wheel barrow of lovely dark compost.  A 10cm (4 inches) layer was shoveled into the bags and then firmed with my hands.

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- COVERING TUBERS

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- COVERING TUBERS

Step 3: The tubers I placed on the compost and then covered with a further 10cm (4 inches) of the good stuff, and firmed. Then the compost was watered.

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- TUBERS PLACED ON COMPOST

PLANTING POTATOES IN BAGS- TUBERS PLACED ON COMPOST

Aftercare: When the stems grow to 15cm (6inches), more compost will be added, to a depth of 10cm (4 inches). As the plants grow the sides of the bags are unrolled to allow for greater depth. I will continue to add more compost as the stems grow until it is 5cm (2 inches) below the top of the bag. The potatoes will need to be well watered. They need a weekly feed of liquid seaweed fertilizer to promote growth. When the plants start to flower the crop will be ready to harvest.  As a true Irish man I can’t wait to cook the first potatoes; steamed and then eaten with melted butter and some chopped chives from the garden, yum!

  • There is nothing quite like your own compost from the garden when growing vegetables. Learn about making compost on my other blog Ciaran’s Gardening Blog and download an information sheet on Home Garden Composting.
  • Listen to a podcast of “In The Garden with Ciaran Burke” – Episode 13
  • WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE NEW GROWTH PROJECT HORTICULTURE COURSE. This is a free training course that we are running in our own garden in Co. Mayo, Ireland. For more info: THE GARDEN SCHOOL Each week we make a video of what the students are doing on the course.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

March 30, 2011

Beef Stock and Oven Chips in Beef Dripping

by Ciaran Burke
Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011
Roasted beef bones in roasting tin

Last Saturday we made our weekly visit to the Farmers Market in Boyle, Co. Roscommon. My partner Hanna and I love to  do as much as possible of our week’s grocery shopping at the market. Dealing with stall holders in the grounds of the historic King House is such an uplifting and enjoyable experience, it certainly beats dealing with self service tills at a supermarket, or being ignored by bored uninterested, sometime rude, shop employees discussing their previous night’s social life adventures while mindlessly scanning our purchases. Yes, a friendly hello, a smile, costs nothing but is worth so much. The relaxed atmosphere of the market allows time for a chat, a bit of banter and always a smile and a few laughs. The produce is organic and top quality, and cost wise it is good value as we are dealing direct with the grower, the farmer, the baker the supplier. The packaging is a lot less too, much better for the environment.

There are other perks of having a regular supplier for your meat too. I texted Deirdre from Irish Organic Meats earlier in the week to ask if she could supply us with beef bones for making stock, “no problem ” was the reply. When we arrived at her stall there was the usual cheerful greeting and she had brought two bags of bones. Having your own supply of organic beef stock is a great thing when you want to make sauces, gravy and soups. We store the stock in plasctic boxes in the freezer, so handy to have, as so simple to make.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Beef bones ready for roasting

On Saturday afternoon we placed the bones in a baking tray and drizzled over a little rapeseed oil. We placed the tray in the oven set at 180 degrees Celcius and let the bones roast for about two hours. The smell was torturously delicious as it wafted from the open kitchen door while we toiled in the garden. We worked until dark which was well after seven. We were starving, a treat was ahead of us though. A great bonus of roasting the bones is that plenty of clear beef fat is released from the roasting bones. When this cools it becomes a cream toffee tinted colour and has the consistency of full fat butter, this is beef dripping.  The treat in store was oven chips roasted in deef dripping.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Beef fat from roasting the bones

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

One spoonful of beef dripping is enough to give a roasting tin full of chips a full flavour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thick chunky chips, from potatoes that were dug from the garden only two weeks before. These were the last of the previous season’s crop. The varietry was ‘Tibet’, a late maturing variety, the tubers are ready only in October. It makes a tall growing plant with quite attractive dark purple blooms.

Potato 'Tibet' washed and ready to be peeled

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Thick cut potato chips ready for the oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tubers were washed of their soil revealing their red skins. After peeling and cutting the potatoes into large chips, a roasting tin with a good dollop of dripping was put in the oven until it was liquified and sizzling. The chips were then tossed in the hot fat and rolled around before being put in the oven. I set the timer for 8 minutes. When the beeps of the timer rang out I took the tin from the oven and moved the chips about making sure none were sticking and that all were coated in fat. Then into the oven they returned. This I repeated another time, the chips were ready in 24 minutes.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Oven chips cooked in beef dripping, sinfully delicious!

They were delicious sprinkled with salt, perfect food for after a hard day’s work in the garden.

The next day, Sunday, we placed the roasted bones in two large saucepans and covered them well with water, about four litres in each pot. We brought the water to the boil and allowed them to simmer for about six hours while we worked all day in the garden. The water reduced down to below the height  of the bones. After it cooled for a few hours we packed into plastic containers, labelled them with dates and stored them in the freezer. Some we put aside and refrigerated to use the following day to make tomato soup for lunch.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Beef stock after water has reduced

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011
Home made beef stock, rich and full of flavour, free from additives.

 

 

Beef dripping gives such a rich flavour to the chips and home made beef stock beats anything you can buy in the shops, made from organic produce, free from additives and full of taste. Chicken stock is also easy to make. We always boil the carcass of a chicken and get a couple of litres of rich stock, and the cats get a treat of the left over meat on the bones.

 

 

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Beef Dripping will store for many weeks in the refrigerator

http://www.irishorganicmeats.com/

Boyle origin farmers market

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

%d bloggers like this: