We like growing potatoes, but you won’t see us man-handling a King Edward or a Maris Piper down on our allotment, no sir.
Call us picky, but we prefer to grow some of the superior tasting, funkier sounding heritage potatoes that are experiencing something of a renaissance with many a plot holder.
These are the varieties that fell out of favour after the Second World War. Farmers were encouraged to grow disease resistant, higher yielding spuds to feed the population just emerging from rationing.
If you want to try growing some of these fancy tatties this year, now is the time to hot-foot it to your local garden centre and seek out some seed potatoes.
Once procured, you’ll need to chit them to give them the very best start before planting out. To do this, place them in an egg box, in a light, cool room. The potatoes will develop short green shoots… rub off all but the largest shoot to focus strong growth. This will make the young plants more robust and should give you bumper, early crops.
The potatoes are ready to plant out when the shoots reach about 2-3cm in length.
Check the pack for planting instructions, but as a general rule, you should dig a trench 15cm deep and add a light sprinkling of fertilizer. Place your chitted tubers, shoots pointing upwards about 40cm apart, cover with soil… and wait.
Remember to cover the emerging plants with soil at regular intervals (mounding up) to protect the emerging tubers.
One potato, two potato, three potato, five…
The heritage tubers that rock our (raised) beds.
Incorrectly assumed by us to be the French word for ‘rat’, this Gaelic, nobbly tuber looks like a rat, and probably goes well with cheese. Like a rat.
Appearance: Brown and nobbly. Rat-like.
Taste: Waxy and nutty
2. Arran Victory
This blue skinned beauty was named to celebrate the end of the First World War. First cultivated on the Isle of Arran, and still held in great esteem amongst Scottish spud fanatics.
Appearance: Blue skin, white flesh
3. Golden Wonder
Another Scottish heritage classic. Its name spawned the Golden Wonder crisp empire, the first crisp company to introduce ‘flavour’ to crisps. Shove that in your grab bag, Gary Lineker.
Appearance: Quintissentially potato-like
Taste: Dry and floury
4. International Kidney
Nothing to do with the illegal organ trade. Everything to do with tasty potatoes. Also known as Jersey Royals.
Appearance: Large croppers
Taste: Waxy. The perfect salad potato
5. Pink fir apples.
Rumoured to be a favorite of Prince Phillip, these tatties are grown and served at Balmoral Castle. They are also the subject of our very own spud trials. Go here for more.
Appearance: Long, knobbly and cigar-shaped.
Taste: Firm, waxy and nutty.
To find out how last year’s Highland Burgundy red heritage spuds fared, go here.