I've just finished digging up all of the potato crop. We usually grow enough to last us through to the following year's new potatoes. I've found it fairly easy to be self-sufficient in potatoes so long as you plant enough, grow them well and store them in the right conditions.
I'm not particularly adventurous when it comes to potatoes. I don't feel any urge to grow new potatoes for Christmas Day, nor aspire to the earliest date possible for digging up new potatoes in spring like restaurants flying over the new season Beaujolais Nouveau for the accolade of being the first to serve it. I treat them as the staples they are. All in good time.
There was a touch of blight late in the summer and as soon as I saw signs of this I cut off all the top growth. If you act quickly late attacks of blight are potentially less serious than early in the season as by this time the tubers are formed. Clearing the foliage completely can reduce the risk of transmission of the fungal infection (phytophthora infestans) down to the tubers themselves. The potatoes are fine staying in the ground for a few weeks after, and I had to delay harvesting in any case until some dry weather returned. When it came to harvesting there were just a few blight-affected potatoes near the surface but all the deeper ones were fine. Fortunately the affected potatoes, although partially blackened, had not progressed to the repellent mushy stage.
There are a bewildering range of potato varieties available to choose from. Here are the ones I grew this year:-
Arran Pilot. This is a first early potato and is a very tasty, waxy textured, 'new potato'. It reputedly does not store well, but that is not my experience. It is resistant to scab so the potatoes normally come up clean and unblemished. I find it crops really well in my dry soil conditions.
Red Duke of York. This is another first early. It is the first time I have grown this variety. It was recommended by a smallholder friend who has grown it for several years. Even though I've come to this potato rather late in the day, it being a 'heritage variety', it has been a revelation. It has attractive red skin and yellowish flesh. The big discovery for me though is that it makes excellent roast potatoes. In fact the best roast potatoes I've had. Ever. I'm told Red Duke of York stores well so l'm going to treat it like a main crop potato and will certainly be growing it again next year.
|Red Duke of York
Desiree. A well known, established main crop variety. When I see them in the supermarket they seem a bit over priced to me. Desiree is always reliable and therefore worth growing. It also grows well in drier soils so suits my conditions well.
The ground where the potatoes grew this year is now clear in anticipation for next year's brassicas.