Not having a lot of room (I have the exact measurements of “not a lot of room” written down somewhere) we’ve been getting a bit more reasonable about what potatoes we can grow year by year…from squeezing in the contents of something like 3x3kg bags about five or six years ago, to buying none this year – the only nursery we pass that sells individual tubers came over all lifestyle a year or two ago and is more likely to be able to sell you 30 types of ornamental stone frogs than half a dozen potato varieties.
Which doesn’t mean to say we’re not growing any, when Waitrose and M&S are at hand..
Shetland Black and Salad Blue from Waitrose
I used to be quite vehemently against growing “ware” (shop/eating) potatoes in a “proper” vegetable patch, but if it’s good enough for Daughter of the Soil then it’s definitely more than good enough for me (more about M&S’ Green Tiger toms to come, too!). So according to Rebsie’s tips I kept an eye out in Waitrose and leapt on the Shetland Black and Salad Blue when they came in to stock, munched some, and kept the rest on the windowsill for about four months. Keeping an eye out for greenfly has been the only trouble. I suspect greenfly of having more intelligence and a more efficient communications system than they are normally given credit for, judging by the way they start to hide as the squishing begins. I preferred the taste and texture of the Shetland Black, but the Salad Blue are fun and I’m interested in eating more colourful vegetables because of the alleged goodies that accompany the colour.
Shetland Black is supposed to be a second early, and Salad Blue an early maincrop, according to Alan Romans who sells seed tubers (and from whom I would certainly buy again, if I had room for more than a few tubers of each).
Only problem with these two is we had a couple too many for the egg box they are chitting in, and we’re not 100% sure of the identity of a couple of tubers…Better not feed them to any unsuspecting visitors.
Mr Little’s Yetholm Gypsy (from M&S)
I couldn’t not buy these when I saw them on sale. Six tubers in a 1kg pack for £1.99 I think. We ate four – quite yellowy fleshed, compared against King Edwards the mash wasn’t as good, but very tasty, somewhat chestnutty. I suspect that as with many veg they would be a lot better home grown so it would be churlish not to test this, wouldn’t it? Two whole potatoes have been kept and the “eye” section from the others – another early maincrop according to Alan Romans. We’ve grown cut in half seed tubers successfully before now so it seems worth a try.
All of these will be grown in pots or bags, a couple were started off last weekend and we’ll put more in week by week as the weather changes and space becomes more or less available.
Spade Work is experimenting with cut up tubers too:
So far we’ve also sown rocket, spinach (only four plants came up in two trays, it doesn’t seem as though the seed keeps well), lettuce, carrot Rainbow Mix, and saved banana shallot seed. We’ve also potted up four banana shallots, again from Waitrose, which will probably flower this summer and give us fresh seed for next year’s crop.