We currently have two borders set aside for potatoes. We grow them on a 4 year rotation along with other crops, in order to control pest levels. We grow all the crops organically and order most of them from organic seed suppliers or from a local potato day. The potatoes are at present being ‘chitted’ in the Bothy, (in egg trays). This encourages strong green chits to develop on the tuber prior to planting, and may speed up the process at the beginning. It is thought to be most beneficial for the early potatoes.
The seed tubers we use are a mixture of the 4 main categories (listed below), but we mainly grow the first early and second early tubers to avoid blight. Blight is a fungal disease, which has been particularly troublesome for a long time. In recent years it seems to have been even more in evidence, mainly because of the current spell of wet summers. The disease thrives in the high humidity and relatively mild temperatures. We aim to plant out the first early potatoes from late March onwards, depending on soil temperatures and the conditions on the ground.
|FIRST EARLIES||Ready June to July|
|SECOND EARLIES||Ready July-August|
|EARLY MAIN CROP||Ready late July – August|
|LATE MAIN CROP||Ready August – September|
The Modern Varieties
The main border is for the modern varieties, bred since 1950. These usually have higher yields, good appearance, a consistent shape and size and have been bred for their better all round disease resistance. The main crop varieties when harvested later in the summer are destined for the restaurant, where they are used for potato salads, soups and baked potatoes.
The Heritage Varieties
A smaller border is used for the heritage varieties (pre 1950). Often these have survived because of their different flavour, as well as a long association with a particular area. We were given some tubers of the Gloucester Black Kidney last year, thought to have been grown for many years in areas of Gloucestershire. It is a small blue potato (main crop), which interestingly survived the widespread blight in 2009. The heritage varieties are mainly used for display in the Harvest Festival in the Bothy in the autumn.
One other unknown potato which we saved from last year is Vitelotte – a purple skinned, purple fleshed potato, which we will trial again this season.
OUR POTATO LIST FOR 2010
|HERITAGE VARIETIES (pre 1950)||MODERN VARIETIES (post 1950)|
|Arran Pilot (1930) First Early – Popular Scottish garden variety||Amadine – Second Early. A lovely Charlotte cross giving high yields of oval shaped potatoes|
|Beauty of Bute (heritage – date not known)Second Early. Round creamy flesh with pretty pink eyes||Amorosa – First Early. One of the few red earlies, with a good waxy taste|
|Belle de Fontenay (1885) Early Main CropThe classic French salad potato, curved shape and yellowish skin||Anoe – Popular since its recent introduction from France. Similar in appearance and taste to Belle de Fontenay|
|Edzell Blue (pre 1915) Second Early. Blue skinned potato with a floury taste||Foremost (1954) First Early. Popular with allotment gardeners, because of its good cooking qualities|
|Gloucester Black Kidney – Main Crop. Local potato, date unknown – good blight resistance||Toluca – Second Early. Good blight resistance|
|International Kidney (1879) Early Main Crop. Commercially traded as Jersey Royals. A good salad potato||Sarpo Axona – Main crop. Good blight resistance (not from an organic seed supplier)|
|Lord Roseberry (1920) Late First Early. Red skin, white flesh. Thought to come from the Dalmeny estate near Edinburgh|
|Red Duke of York (1942). First Early. Deep red skin colour. It has an excellent flavour|
Vitelotte being chitted