Monday, January 08, 2007


New potatoes (early varieties)

Duke of York: grown 2005 and 2006

For me these are quite simply the only new potatoes to grow. Perfectly shaped, palest yellow, floury, and the best, melt-in-the-mouth flavour you can possibly imagine. Add to that, their apparent resistance to slug damage and scab (unless you leave them too long in the ground, for which I think we can forgive them) - and you have very close to the perfect new potato.

One little problem I did have with them in 2005 was that they got clobbered by a very late frost, after the beginning of June which is about as late as I can ever remember. They did pick up again and grew a reasonable crop, but the next year I took the precaution of covering the newly-planted tubers with fleece. As it happened, we didn't have a late frost in 2006, but the fleece had an amazing effect: the plants practically doubled in size with the addition of an extra degree of warmth, so as a result I went around the allotment site feeling unconscionably smug because my potato plants were twice as big as anyone else's. And I harvested them a full fortnight earlier, too. I'll be doing the same again this year.

Red Duke of York: grown 2007

As a concession to trying out new varieties (well, and because the catalogue didn't have regular Duke of York in stock) I grew the red version this year - and found them equally outstanding.

The same excellent flavour, good texture and sheer deliciousness of Duke of York, plus a very good crop - twice as remarkable considering it was the driest spring in living memory, followed by the wettest summer... ditto, this year. There was some eelworm damage but not much, and no other problems. Their colour was really lovely, a rich pinkish red which looked great on the plate. My only tiny niggle - and it really is a niggle - is that it's practically impossible to see them in my clay-ey soil so I think I probably missed quite a few digging them out - and that means more sprouts next year where I don't want them. But it's a small price to pay.

Second earlies
These are the potatoes which bridge the gap between new potatoes and maincrops. They're planted much as for earlies but which crop that bit later - extending the season by a month or so and providing some good-tasting spuds in their own right. They don't keep well, though.

British Queen: grown 2006

This is one of the classic second earlies, though I only stumbled across it by accident when my mother-in-law gave me a few spare tubers she had left over.

It turns out to be an excellent second-early, producing big, healthy plants and good-sized tubers with no signs of disease or damage from slugs. They stayed in the ground well, and I was still eating them straight out of the plot well into August without even any problems with scab - usually the price you pay if you leave your early spuds in too long.

Texture was quite floury, and the taste was good, though for my money not mouth-wateringly spectacular. But then I'm being nit-picky here: all round, a potato I'd happily grow again.

Kestrel: grown 2007
A new departure again this year: these have a good write-up so I'll be interested to see how they turn out.


King Edward: grown 2007

Growing maincrop potatoes for the first time this year, and King Edwards are the classic spud so I thought I'd start with them. I'm expecting problems - rumour has it they're susceptible to blight and erratic to crop.

Remarka: grown 2007

The back-up in case the King Edwards fail. It's supposed to have excellent disease resistance so looks promising.


chuffa said...

i grow foremost, homeguard and pentland dell every year because of habit. the crops i get are hit and miss and would really like to see how your crops get on as i may change. see you on the vine.

The Constant Gardener said...

hi there, yes I grow a lot of mine through habit too - Duke of York (just can't think how it would get any better) and King Edwards because my husband cooks the Sunday roast and insists these are the only spud he'll use! Yields are quite a lot lower, but really tasty. I must get around to adding this year's varieties - will let you know how I get on, with a bit of luck!