So yesterday afternoon we dug up our potatoes, the Horse Doctor and I. Or to be more precise, we carefully removed each layer of tyres and shoogled around in the dirt looking for tubers. It was all a bit of a disappointment.

Way back in April, we planted eight different varieties - Maris Peer, Ambo, Charlotte, Robinta, British Queen, Desiree, Verity and Roseval. They got off to a very good start, what with the unseasonally warm weather, so I was soon putting the next layer of tyres on and earthing up the haulms to encourage good tuber growth.

This second layer came through quickly, so I thought why not try a third? Last year we only grew two tyres high, but I'm always interested in pushing the envelope. I think the third layer would have worked, too. Had we not immediately been inundated with rain, cold winds and a general winteryness quite at odds with the month of June.

And, indeed, July.

Come August, the plucky potatoes were trying their best, and most had put a small amount of leaf out. I thought we might have to harvest late to get any decent crop, but at least it wasn't a complete wash-out.

How wrong I was. despite early promise, August turned out pretty much like June and July here, which is to say grey, damp and not really warm enough to justify the label 'summer.' Too warm to be winter, though, and so the blight hit early. I was going to cut the greenery off the potatoes to prevent the rot going down into the tubers, but I was beaten to this by the sheep in the neighbouring field, who suddenly took a liking to Potato Haulm. Also Rhubarb Leaf, Fennel and Cardoon, all of which were growing along that rather rickety fenceline.

at least the nasturtiums did well

All in all it wasn't a good year to grow potatoes, nor did I pick the best place to plant them. Double whammy and all that. So, when it came to guddling around in the soil to see what was there, I didn't have what you might call high expectations. Which, as it turned out, was just as well.

In order of planting, West to East:

Maris Peer - ten tubers, most smaller than an infant's angry fist, a couple big enough to raise a smile.
Charlotte - seven tubers, two a decent size, five not.
Ambo - five small tubers and two large ones. They looked OK until I scrubbed them to boil and mash for supper. Slugs had eaten most of the insides, and were still there when I chopped them open.
Verity - three of the smallest tubers you've ever seen:

for reference, the label is four inches long.

Robinta -
nothing. Not a sausage. Bugger all. Sweet FA. Nada. Zilch.
Desiree - five tiddly little tubers, about the size of my thumbs (if I had five thumbs, which I don't.)
British Queen - ten small tubers, might make an accompaniment to tonight's roast farmyard chicken, though I'll need to make sure there's plenty of carrots and peas.
Roseval - six tubers that could be boiled for a potato salad. If you weren't really all that hungry actually.

British Queen, Desiree, Roseval, and the label for Robinta.

I've not weighed them or anything - that would be just too depressing. I can't believe there's more than a couple of pounds in total. And most of that's dirt. Last year we had comfortably more than that from just one plant.

All is not lost, however. We raised Red Duke of York, Charlotte and Edzell Blue early in the season in buckets, and they were a success. The buckets, and a half dozen nifty little potato growing bags, are even now sprouting with a late crop of Maris Peer, Charlotte and something else I can't remember and I'm damned if I'm going out in the rain to look. All being well, these potatoes will start to come on stream around November. If I can keep the frosts off them, by moving them into the polytunnel and covering them in fleece each night, then we might even have some tasty, fresh-dug tatws for Christmas. Yumm.

Or of course, we might not.

**** Update ****

The unnamed variety was Nicola. Just in case you were interested.


Stuart MacBride said…
If it's any consolation we've not even bothered trying to dig ours yet. They look pathetic.

I fancy those growing bags though - next year I WILL have tatties!
JamesO said…
Never mind next year, Mr Stuart - I've got a few spare Maris Peers I could send up. Get yourself some bags and you can grown tatws on your patio. Just bung some fleece over them if it's going to be frosty. Christmas Tatties - yumm.

Popular Posts