Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Sharing the Spoils - VPGGB #8


After our seed choosing session, Threadspider and I decided it would be great to do the same with our potato order. They arrived last week and we met up at my house to divide the spoils. We'd both chosen one of our favourite croppers from last year, plus we gave a little nod to nostalgia by each choosing a variety our fathers liked to grow. I chose Harlequin and Pentland Javelin, Threadspider went for Vivaldi (the potato lower in carbohydrate) and Ulster Chieftain. It also meant we shared postage costs between us, our size of order qualified for a free bag of Dunluce and we can grow more varieties than usual without having to resort to buying massive quantities, nor using up half our plots to grow them. Result!

We've decided not to order any maincrop or late potatoes - blight's been so bad up at the site the past couple of years and we're not going for any of the Sarpo varieties (blight resistant) to compensate. Having harvested a massive bag of spuds is one thing, but actually we've found the flavour and cooking qualities aren't that great - however, our findings seem to be different to what others say who've tried them. I'm also skeptical of the slug resistance claims - no-one seems to have told the slugs up at my plot they're not supposed to like them - though this article has some interesting observations on why I might differ on both the taste and slug resistance fronts (I might have left them in too long). Earlies aren't meant to be that good for keeping, but we've found Harlequin and Vivaldi are much better than most. Neither of our crops from last year has done much in the way of softening and sprouting yet - pretty good seeing we're close to the end of January.

It's been rather nice to do something positive in the gardening line after what feels like weeks of inactivity and dreaming. The potatoes are now laid out on the windowsill in the dining room to start chitting and I even managed to get up to the plot on Sunday for a while. The chilly wind certainly helped to blow the cobwebs away!

Have a look here for more information on the types of potato (early, maincrop etc.) and the chitting technique. The database I've linked to in the first paragraph gives you a lot more information on the varieties we've chosen and can be used to search for details of any other ones you may be interested in growing this year.

10 comments:

  1. I can't remember what spuds I ordered from the allotment association so it might be a bit of a suprise when they come, and where I will put them I'm not sure- I need to dig and dig. It will be great to see how your spuds work out, it might change next years order for me as I don't seem to put that much thought in to it!

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  2. I got my potatoes from the allotment horticultural society on Sunday. I've gone for about 12 each of four varieties - Swift(early), Kestrel (second early), Desiree (early maincrop)and Cara(late maincrop).
    It'll be interesting to see how we all get on this year.
    It was good to see more folks than usual at the hut, and the general chat was one of now looking forward to doing some proper allotmenteering. xx

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  3. I know what you mean about it being nice to do something gardening - I potted up some Foxglove and Primula seedlings this weekend. It was very satisfying.

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  4. Hi VP, it sounds like you have put a lot of thought into which spuds to grow and how fun to have someone to share the orders. I have never grown them, might someday, but will enjoy seeing how yours work out and which varieties were best.
    Frances

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  5. Hmm...I love potatoes! They have always seemed like a fun crop to grow...Mounding the dirt and digging all the time!

    Off to watch Mr Obama become our president!

    gail

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  6. I hope your spuds do well -- that's a very sensible and cost effective way to order. :) I'm going to try some Yukon Golds in containers this year.

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  7. You know, this post points out the glaringly obvious to me: For some inexplicable reason, I've never grown potatoes. Well, that will change this year! Is it better to grow from seeds or potato bits, do you think?

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  8. Rhiannon - I need to dig and dig too :( but the plot next door has massive puddles showing, so the ground's too wet at the moment. We must sound better organised than we actually are!

    Flighty - I've not had too much success with Kestrel and Cara and Desiree can be bought at our local farm shop, so we decided to go for ones we can't buy that easily...

    PG - that sounds lovely as was my trip to the allotment, except for a story you'll see tomorrow... ;)

    Frances - it's great fun having a gardening and blogging buddy. Rest assured anything of note will be blogged here as the season progresses :)

    Gail - they're like digging up treasure! We watched too :)

    Nancy - we can get hold of that variety too. I wonder if they'll be available at the potato day I'm going to next week...

    Monica - what you see in the photo are seed potatoes. I've always used them whole, but some people do cut them up. As long as there are 3 good roots on each bit they're said to do OK. I don't know which method yields better though - perhaps that's an experiment to try sometime! Also the plants do bear fruit a bit like tomatoes (they're in the same family) - if I get any this year, I'm going to see if I can successfully grow potatoes from them.

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  9. Isn't it great being able share seed and potato ordering with friends. Interesting to read what you have to say about Sarpo as I have been considering them. The slugs in your neck of the woods are just like mine - they are just not reading the right books.

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  10. Anna - it's been great this year to share. Do try the Sarpo - I'd like to hear what you think of them. If I could get hold of a couple I'd try them ago, but harvest earlier than I normally would for a maincrop to see how much of a difference it makes.

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