Hartley Magazine

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Organic Potatoes

Image 4 - Jan 17
Marys Rose

I’ve not grown potatoes in my garden for a while. I’d been keeping my precious veg space for crops that I considered to use the space better.

But over this autumn and winter for some reason I’ve struggled to find organic potatoes locally and when I have they have been tasteless.

Coupled with some scary information on the Internet regarding the high use of pesticides on the potato crop, it made me look once again at growing the humble spud in my garden.

With a frost free greenhouse to chit the seed potatoes and allow them to start into growth to give them a head start and the no pesticide regime I’ve used in my garden since I first moved here, the stage is set for some healthy, residue free potatoes this season. And it wasn’t a big decision to seek out not just some organic seed potatoes, but some new varieties that offer something a little different for the potato connoisseur.

Five organic spuds


Defland Nurseries
 has a fantastic range of new, coloured and heritage potato varieties offered as seed potatoes that are organic and there are some real stunners in the mix. I’m going to grow five varieties from the range this season.

Image 3 - Jan 17
Salad Blue

  1. New for 2017 is Pink Gypsy a maincrop, multipurpose variety with a red skin with white patches and white flesh.
  2. Mary’s Rose is a high yielding variety with good flavour. It has a pink skin and white flesh and is good for mash and wedges. It’s an early main crop so should be ready to harvest ahead of the rest.
  3. Highland Burgundy Red is a coloured heritage potato with red skins and red flesh. It’s a main crop that’s been around since the 1930’s and offers the chance to serve red mash or red chips as the colour stays after cooking.
  4. Salad Blue is a Maincrop with blue skin and flesh and reminds me of some of the freeze-dried potatoes I ate in Peru. It’s better for baking mash and chips but I’m tempted to make blue potato crisps with them.
  5. Arran Victory is another heritage variety, a late main crop with purple skins and white flesh, it was apparently named on the Isle of Arran after the first world war and is popular with growers because it gives high yields and has a long season.

Preparation

They should arrive in Feb which is a great time to start them off by chitting them in the greenhouse.  That gives me some time to add some well-rotted compost to the veg patch where I intend to plant them and give the worms plenty of time to work it through.

Use
Use egg boxes to chit your potatoes

The chitting starts the growing process and as long as the shoots are green and healthy and protected from frost, it will give the spuds a head start.

Then I’ll plant them at full moon, probably on Easter Sunday, as tradition dictates. There’s more to this tradition that old wives tales as Easter is traditionally the first Sunday after the spring full moon.  The full moon is considered the best time to plant root crops and potatoes need frost protection; Easter Sunday was traditionally the first full moon of the season and the right time to plant. So watch this space for the latest spud report and possibly some potato recipes from the trial.