Friday 21 January 2011

Potatoes for Damo

I'm a bit piqued because folk "down sowth" are getting delivery of their potatoes. Potato days are appearing like a rash in January. This is faaar to early to start chitting spuds. Here in Scotland - incidentally the potato breeding centre second only to Chile - the Edinburgh potato day is 20th February whereas the daddy of them all the BOGS (Borders Organic Gardeners Society) Potato Day is not until 6th March.

Setting my resentment aside, Damo has asked for some coloured potato recommendations and I just happen to be dusting off some of my older pics.

Top recommendation has to be Rooster.  It is becoming rather common - and I can see why. It's heavy cropping, large, apparently pest free, has excellent cooking qualities (particularly mash or baking) and flavour! We grew it two years ago and again last year and will do again this year. The only criticism I have read is that it is becoming "ubiquitous".

Here's a cause celebre: Shetland Black. Promoted for eating, like a lot 'speciality' spuds by Waitrose. The idea that you are keeping a Scottish Island crofting tradition going is beguiling.

The reality is a bit more mundane. Poor yield, some disease and peeled they look like this:

Very floury they retain some of their colour but disintegrate in the blink of an eye. (Children may not be very impressed.)

Here's a newer introduction. Sarpo Mira. Supposedly resistant to all known potatoe diseases. Taste not brilliant. Curiously they are long and flat! Deselected on taste grounds.

Now for blue potatoes go for early Edzell Blue (named after a town in NE Scotland)  Disintegrates in a split second. The story goes that boiling Edzells was how cooks were tested by prospective employers in days of old. (Not pictured because they look almost identical to) Arran Pilot (Arran another Scottish Island - spot the theme) is a maincrop that looks good and tastes good if you like a floury potato. A good standard.

I'll be growing Rooster this year but also something (anything I come across on potato day) new. I haven't grown Shetland Black again, but they are so photogenic I might!

If you want to read more about them try Rebsie's blog entries at  Daughter of the Soil

As ever, the rider is that different soil and conditions suit different varieties, and tastes differ. Keeping as wide a range as possible is good for us and good for the future.


  1. I'd recommend Salad Blue for a good coloured potato. It retains it's colour when you cook it and more importantly it tastes good.

  2. You have some very pretty potato varieties; I am still thinking should I grow them this year at all… these pictures might push me towards buying some seed potatoes.

  3. Thanks very much Mal that's a great help. Rooster sounds like a good starting point. Shame about Shetland Black, when I read the name I thought that's the one, but then saw the end product which is disappointing. RobD's suggestion of Salad Blue will be another one to look out for. I'll pop back later on to see if there's any more suggestions. Thanks for your help.

  4. Mal, I've linked this to my post and also a discussion started on the UK Veg Gardeners forum to see if we can get as many opinions as possible on the best varieties. Thanks again for your advice.

  5. Excellent information
    If I'm correct, I believe the new Sarpo Mira is very similar if not from the same strain as the Desiree

  6. I like rooster potatoes but have never grown them...I have my orders in for this year but with your recommendations may switch from Desiree to rooster next year.

  7. Hate to say it but all our seed potatoes arrived on Wednesday. We will pop them in the cold garage for a while before spreading them out for chitting as you say it's too early.

  8. I bought some Shetland Black from Waitrose, and I must say I really liked them.

    I'm buggered if I know what to grow this year, but I know that Sante certainly won't be one!

  9. My seed potatoes have already arrived - far too early.
    By coincidence, I was marking BOGS potato day on the kitchen calendar today, tho I really don't need any more potatoes. Perhaps see you there!

  10. My spuds arrived a couple of weeks ago already sprouting so I just went with it.