Tuesday, 24 February 2009
These are our "heritage" potatoes: About ten years ago we went to a Potato Day in Galashiels (run by BOGs - Borders Organic Growers) and bought amongst other varieties some Ballydoon. We were so impressed with this new potato (and it is an early variety) that we told everyone about it and passed some on to a few people. But then we ate all ours and despite visiting various potato days in years since, never found them again. (A search suggests there is one farm in Ayrshire that is a certified producer - I've contemplated visiting them). But my Sister and Brother-in-Law have responded to the tale of woe by letting us have some of the strain that they have been keeping going, from a few tubors we gave them. Last year we planted these descendants and this is the next generation which we have reserved for planting this year. I set them out for chitting in pride of place in our back passageway today.
Note: Certified seed potatoes are safest for avoiding disease build up and disappointing returns. My view is that if you experience any problem then revert to 100% certified seed. But limited experiments add to the variety and excitement of the gardening experience. So, for instance, I am quite happy to take some of the supermarket "speciality" potatoes and plant them to see if I can get a good return in a premium product. In fact our best year for potatoes has been the one where we left it too late to buy seed potatos so bought a sack of Cara potatoes from a local organic shop. The sack had the name of the farm, just some 30 miles or so away. We figured the growing conditions would be a near approximation to ours. The results suggested our assumptions were valid.
Potato days seem to have become more and more popular and I returned from one in Edinburgh on Sunday to hear a report of others on the radio. I felt alot better about paying 13p per tubor when they are 18p in London! No Ballydoon, but I bought late varieties Robinta and Sarpo Mira just because I don't know about them - in addition to some old favourites (Edzell Blue, Sharpes Express, Kerr's Pinks). I'll have no difficulty filling the roots zone this year, but will I manage to squeeze in my carrots and parsnips?