Seen at the Festival of the Tree

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

Monday, 23 February 2015

Spuds I Like

This year's spuds chitting away on the windowsill

I've decided to grow less spuds this year, but that's not stopped me from adding potatoes to my list of projects for 2015. I've decided to have a bit of a trial to see if there is anything which can shift my love for the scrummy, buttery Harlequin.

The key to this trial was a trip to my local Potato Day courtesy of my local allotment society and Pennard Plants a couple of weeks ago. There were around 30 different varieties there, with some I'd never heard of and therefore of particular interest.

One of the best things about potato days is visitors can buy as few or as many of each variety they want for a mere 22p per spud. I was tempted initially to buy one of each, but I soon replaced that notion with a cunning plan:

  • Select a few of the Early and Second Early varieties to try. Late blight can be a major problem up at the plot, so by avoiding the later harvested Maincrop varieties I hope to sidestep this issue in 2015. This approach also helped me to whittle down my choices to a more reasonable number in relation to the space I have up at the plot
  • Select a couple of varieties available in the shops as well as my beloved Harlequin as trial controls
  • Include both floury and waxy types to see which I prefer
  • Include a range of spuds suited to different styles of cooking, to see how they perform
So with that in mind I ended up with:
  • Abbot - First Early, waxy, suitable for chips or baking or boiling
  • Anya - Second Early, waxy, suitable for boiled, salad or steamed potatoes. Anya is often available in the shops 
  • Gold Nugget - First Early, waxy, suitable for boiled, mashed or salads
  • Rudolph - Early Maincrop (oops finger's crossed on the blight front), floury, suitable for chips, boiling or roast
  • Sherine - First Early, floury and a good all-rounder (hopefully) for boiling, mashing, baking, chips and roast
  • Vivaldi - Second Early and called the 'weight watchers' potato' as it has a up to a third less carbohydrates and calories compared to other spuds. It's also reputed to have a buttery taste and I've also seen it available in the shops. It's another all-rounder reputedly suitable for boiled, roasted, baked, salad or mashed spuds.
Note that the 'best suited for' is according to Pennards' catalogue notes. These varieties are available from other suppliers, whose notes may vary. Let's see what happens in the taste test!

I bought 2 each of the largest spuds I could find in the tubs and set them out to chit as soon as I got home. Last week's trip to the Garden Press Event saw me pick up a gift of 5 'Jazzy' to trial courtesy of Thompson & Morgan. This is another Second Early and is a waxy salad variety. It's reputed to form lots of small tubers in a small space, so is meant to be particularly suitable for container growing. Let's see shall we?

My beloved Harlequin are ordered and hopefully on their way to join this little lot. Then comes the hard work of setting up the trial next month.

Which spuds are you planning to grow this year? Are they new or tried and trusted favourites?

Spuds chitting on my windowsill - with their names added for identification
Here they are again, so you can put names to faces

21 comments:

  1. We bought some potatoes from Pennard Plants recently having tired a few of theirs from the RHS Spring Show in London before. I'll be interested to learn how you get on with your varieties.

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  2. Hi Marigold - I see Pennard were strutting their stuff in the RHS Halls last week :) I'll be updating on how they perform later this year.

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    1. i.e. that's the performance of the spuds, not Pennards!

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  3. I tried Harlequin last year, but found them indifferent. I felt they were a compromise - not as good as either of their parents (Charlotte & PFA). But I admit that this is a subjective issue, and everyone is entitled to their own favourites!

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    1. That's really interesting Mark. As you say, we have different tastes, but I wonder if soil etc could have a part to play in this as well? I love PFA too, but I'm not overly fond of how fiddly they are for cleaning off all the clay soil that clings to them.

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  4. I'm trying first early Red York of York as a new to me variety along with my usual Charlotte, Kestrel and Desiree. Flighty xx

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    1. Hi Flighty - I steered clear of Charlotte and Desiree as they're so readily available in the shops, though I love Desiree too. I've grown Red Duke of York and Kestrel in the past too and I've enjoyed the results :)

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  5. I'm not growing any potatoes at all this year. Not yet anyway. I found they took up so much precious space, and the yields were fairly low. I might try some in big pots though, maybe the Jazzy ones you mention, or International Kidney, which are always lovely, although not the heaviest yielders. I've got on well with pots in the past, and they're always nice and early in warm dark pots against the back of our south-facing house.

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    1. Hi CJ - I've found the same as you, yields from pots can be very low. Did you see Lia Leendertz's article on growing spuds in pots in The Telegraph? She mentions how good International Kidney are and of course growing them at home allows you to harvest them ahead of when they're in the shops or when they're at their priciest. Here's the article - I put it on Facebook as a reminder for later re my Jazzy trial in pots. I like the look of the recipe too!

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/howtogrow/fruitandvegetables/11422293/How-to-grow-potatoes-in-pots.html

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  6. We stick to first and second earlies too so that they hopefully will make enough growth before blight strikes although last year it hit us early.

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    1. Yes, it struck early for us last year too :( I've also tried growing the Sarpo varieties, but I don't rate them on flavour at all and boiling them's a complete mess!

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  7. I've had absolutely no success growing potatoes, which are said to be dead easy. That won't stop me trying, again, this year with some sprouted Yukon Gold now chitting on my windowsill. I might just try them in a leaky bucket this time, because there's nothing like a fresh spud.

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    Replies
    1. YuKon Gold seems really popular on your side of the pond Helen. I tried some in an air pot container trial a few years back. The yields were low, but that was probably down to them being container grown. I must try them again, up at the plot this time.

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  8. I'm going to try no chitting at all this year and buy the spuds at the last moment when they are very cheap.

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    1. I seem to remember there was a study on this a while back which showed chitting was good for earlies but made no difference to maincrop yields or vice versa.

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  9. We're growing Maris Peer, Charlotte and Rocket all of which we've grown before. Also growing Epicure which is a new one for us. We grow all our potatoes in bags and containers and they usually do well. Last year we had poor yields, don't know why

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    1. I 've grown none of these, Margaret and you're the second person I've seen mention Epicure this week.

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  10. You came away with a good pick and mix selection there VP. There are a couple of varieties that I've not heard of. Sadly there are not any local potato days round here. I've mainly grown earlies in the past. Still undecided about what to grow this year but 'Anya is a favourite'. I grew a most tasty French variety last year which I think was 'Roseval' - an early maindrop which I'm tempted to try again. Decisions, decisions....

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    1. I'm not surprised you like Anya ;-)

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  11. Yes, choosing potato varieties, or tomato for that matter, is like being a kid in a sweet shop. So many to choose from. Happy chitting!

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    1. Thanks Matron - kid in a sweet shop is oh so true :) I'm adding your Epicure recommendation for next year...

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