Monday, 8 October 2018

Pink Fir Apples - Late Developers come good

Nothing much was expected of this year's potato harvest. A dry, dry start to the year ensured the tubers never had time to grow well.
The rain arrived just in time to avert a total disaster but the yield was still appreciably down. Many tubers were not much more than pea size and the more prone varieties were pretty scabby.

Pink fir Apple potatoes are weird and wonderful shapes, branching like grotesque ogre's fingers

The only positive is that for the first time in years we have not had blight in the potatoes or tomatoes.

So far I have harvested the Arran Pilot, earlies which were surprisingly good considering conditions. However, my favourite Red Duke of Yorks pretty much disappeared without a trace.
I harvested the Charlottes and Kestrels a while back. These Second Earlies are normally the most reliable of all the spuds, but I only got half a sack of each this year.

And so into Autumn. I wanted to begin harvesting the maincrops a couple of weeks ago, but the earth has again been too dry to make digging much fun. After Saturday's prolonged rain I decided to have another go, but it was still hard going. The Desirees were somewhere between ok and disappointing and then I came to the Pink Fir Apples.

Yes, Pink Fir Apples are actually spuds! They are a very late variety. In a blight year the harvest can often be all but lost as the tops (haulms) have to be taken off before the tubers have had time to even begin swelling.
As I pulled out the nasturtiums and marigolds which had invaded the Pink Fir Apple bed, it became apparent that these late developers might actually have done quite well.
I scraped the dry soil away and they just came tumbling out of the ground. They are weird and wonderful shapes, branching like grotesque ogre's fingers, but that doesn't matter for they don't need peeling. We don't have a great problem with slugs any more since the duck slug patrol was introduced, but Pink Fir Apples really don't seem attractive to these slimy little blighters anyhow.

The success of my Pink Fir Apple potatoes is a victory for diverse growing, whereby several varieties of each vegetable are grown as an insurance policy. Something is bound to succeed!
If my recollection is correct, last time we had a bumper Pink Fir Apple crop was a similarly dry year.

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