Scotland has been in the forefront in the science of developing new varieties of potatoes that withstand common scab, black spot, various nematodes, blights and other problems traditionally associated with growing potatoes. The photograph below is from John Stoa’s blog.
I grew potatoes for market in the 1970s and I cannot for the life of me recall what variety I seeded. I went down to the local rural co-operative and worked out how much weight of seed potatoes I would need to plant an acre and that was it. Back breaking work followed even though my neighbour ploughed and furrowed the paddock for me. A profitable exercise, I recall and gave my family plenty of spuds to eat.
So here in Scotland, I wanted to grow potatoes – well, enough for us to consume and to try different varieties. When I went to the Bridgend Garden Centre in Freuchie, I was astounded at the different bags of seed potatoes – there must have been more than a hundred bags of first Earlies, second Earlies, Maincrop, early and late varieties. It was mind boggling. And I bought a potato book, of course!
In the meantime, I had come across a variety called Apache in supermarkets. It was developed just up the road from Cupar very recently and having gained market approval was in short supply. A smallish potato with a distinct pink parti-coloured blotches on the skin, waxy and good for roasting. So I bought a couple of bags and left one to chit.
I bought smallish quantities each of:
Harmony(6) – Caithness, Early Maincrop smooth tuber, white skin and flesh.
Picasso(6) – Agrico, Maincrop, medium tuber, red parti-coloured skin, light yellow flesh.
Mayan Gold(10) – James Hutton, Maincrop, smooth long tuber, blue parti-coloured skin, yellow flesh
Sarpo Axona(8) – Sarvari Research, Maincrop, smooth oval tuber, red skin, cream flesh
together with my 12 chitted Apache – Zella J. Doig, Early Maincrop, short oval tuber, red parti-coloured skin, yellow flesh.
I use The British Potato Variety Database for information and disease resistance ratings. An excellent reference tool.
The plantings would take up half a row each in one of the raised beds. I trenched the rows I would use and laid Growmore pelleted fertiliser drawing some soil over before putting the already chitted seed potatoes in the trenches. On 19th April the rows were planted and watered in well. There was an overflow so I planted the Axona in my overflow bed together with another 10 Apache about a week later. We had some good rain and I watered spasmodically when it was dry. Hilled up the sides to keep the developed tubers from turning green.
By the 10th September, the tops had dried up and I dug the Harmony and Apache potatoes. Satisfying yield from the Harmony but not so much from the Apache. The skins were crazed as well – I would guess my watering regime wasn’t consistent enough for them They are small potatoes. A bit of common scab on a few Harmony so I will plant a green manure crop of Caliente mustard to help sterilise the soil for next year.
Yesterday the 12th I dug the Picasso and Mayan Gold. Terrific Picasso yield and highly satisfactory Mayan Gold yield. I threw away, at the most, 6 potatoes that wire worm had infiltrated. Not bad.
There will be more potatoes from the overflow bed but they aren’t ready yet. You can see from the photographs that there are more potatoes than two people can eat so I have started giving some to our neighbours – also a satisfying exercise.