Thursday, 28 June 2012

Patriotic potatoes


Patriotic potatoes!

Fears of potatoes rotting in the ground were unfounded. They've enjoyed the moist conditions and the horse manure that I dug in over winter. Those that got bitten by the frost in early May seem to have easily caught back up too.
I harvested a few from three different varieties today and it suddenly hit me. If only they'd been ready a few weeks ago I could have made a lucrative profit selling jubilee potatoes!

I like to grow as many different types of potato as possible. That way, if any varieties fail me, I'll always have plenty of others. It also gives me cover against the various afflictions that can strike potato crops.
But the main reason I grow so many varieties is for the range of texture, taste and colour. The floury ones are better for chipping and roasting, the waxy ones for boiling and salads.

So, here are the Earlies I have planted this year:


Salad Blue
More purple than blue. Purple flesh too which stays purple on cooking. This variety has always cropped very well for me and gives bucketloads of sweet tasting pototoes for boiling. Only downside is they can suddenly turn watery if overcooked, but purple mash is always a spectacle!

Red Duke of York
Dating from 1942, this heritage potato has a marvellous deep red skin colour and firm, yellow flesh. It is dry and mealy in texture and gives excellent chips and roast.

Dunluce
An excellent new potato which crops by the bucketload. Very firm flesh. I have found that Dunluces keep that new potato taste even if allowed to grow big. For this reason, I often harvest a few early on, then leave the others for later.

The jubilee chips made from the first three varieties.
Charlotte
I can never believe how much these sell for in the supermarkets. Although they are classed as Second Earlies, I already have a bumper crop of these lovely salad potatoes. Shame it's not really the weather for salads!
On that point, what on earth is a salad potato? Just a boiled potato gone cold I guess? Though they do stay nice and firm.

Arran Pilot
Around since 1930 and a gardeners favourite. A good yield last year so hoping for a repeat performance.

Edgecote Purple
Purple skin (surprise, surprise) and firm yellow flesh. Has been around since 1916. This potato is supposed to be an excellent all-rounder and I'm hoping it does well for me.
I will harvest this variety later on, as it supposedly shows good blight resistance. It's a Second Early too.

Bonnie
Bonnie by name... These white potatoes have rosy cheeks!
They produce an even size, large round spud, ideal for baking.

Swift
Supposed to be a high yielder and to produce the earliest potatoes. Mine seem to have been outperformed by other varieties. They have produced few leaves and the yield is nothing special.
Maybe not one for next year.
We have plenty more potatoes than we can manage anyway.


Thursday 28th June 2012
A stormy day in store
Blight
This warm, damp weather is ideal for fungi to take hold. The only redeeming factor is that it's been accompanied by a stiff breeze which should give enough airflow between the plants. This is one of the reasons for observing the advised planting spaces.
Still, today I received a text. I don't recieve that many texts, so I was half expecting it to be news of some far-flung mega rare bird. Unfortunately it was not.
It was a FAB text. (Fight Against Blight) warning of a full Smith period. You can sign up for these alerts with the Potato Council. It's easy to do and a useful tool in trying to avoid this decimating disease.

You may well be wondering what on earth is a full Smith period. I guess with so many Smiths in Britain, one had to have something named after him or her in the end!

This information is selected from blightwatch.co.uk. Please visit the website for more detailed information.


Smith Periods


Smith Periods for blight control are calculated from hourly temperature and relative humidity values.

A full Smith Period has occurred if, on each of 2 consecutive days:





  • the minimum air temperature was at least 10oC, and
  • there were a minimum of 11 hours with a relative humidity of at least 90%

    ...

    Smith Period conditions are conducive for sporulation of the potato blight pathogen on lesions - leaf wetness is also necessary for infection to occur. If Smith Periods occur at frequent and regular (7-10 day) intervals, there is a greater chance of blight development.


  • Display incidents from to date
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    13 reported incidents to date for the selected region
    Id Outbreak Size Variety Reported Source Area Result
    9082Several PatchesMarfona13 Jun 2012Crop/OtherCT7
    9086Patch (1m2)Maris Peer14 Jun 2012Crop/OtherCT7
    9102Patch (1m2)Other Maincrop19 Jun 2012Crop/OtherGU29
    9114Scattered through fieldDesiree21 Jun 2012Crop/OtherCT7
    9118Scattered through fieldUnknown22 Jun 2012Crop/OtherNR10
    9126Scattered through fieldKing Edward25 Jun 2012Crop/OtherCT7
    9130Scattered through fieldKing Edward26 Jun 2012Crop/OtherCT7
    9134Several PatchesUnknown26 Jun 2012Crop/OtherNR14
    9138Single PlantMaris Piper27 Jun 2012Crop/OtherPE20
    914227 Jun 2012PE11
    9146Single PlantOther Maincrop28 Jun 2012Crop/OtherGU28
    9154Patch (1m2)Unknown28 Jun 2012Crop/OtherNR11
    915829 Jun 2012DA13




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