Last year I bought some seed potatoes mail order and some from our allotment association. The problem with mail-order potatoes is delivery. I know that Thompson & Morgan supply excellent quality but the postal charges rack up the cost no end. They do have a wider range than you’d find in most shops but we come back to the cost issue.
Our local allotment association buys in bulk and passes on the savings to members but last year I can only describe the quality as poor. If you’re going to spend the effort growing something, then spending a few pence extra to get off to a good start has to be worth it.
Of course, I can buy them from local stores and garden centres, assuming they’ve the variety I want but here they’re usually in 3kg bags. We always end up with far more potatoes than we want. 3kg of first earlies will yield about 20 – 25kg and there’s just the two of us to eat them.
Anyway, one of the National Vegetable Society members is involved with a small firm supplying high-quality seed potatoes, I think aimed mainly at the show growers. He supplies mail order (there’s that postage again) but our local branch and some people off the allotment site combined our order.
Yesterday was the NVS meeting so I arranged to pick them up. The meeting was in Preston, which is about an hour and a quarter north of us here, on a good day but Saturday started with snow and ice. It was about minus 1.5C as I cleared the car and I thought it was going to be a fun drive. Strangely, as I got a bit north, the roads improved no end and I got up there with no problems.
I’m always a bit in awe at the NVS meetings, Medwyn Williams is certainly top of his tree but the other growers sitting around the table are all pretty amazing. My only consolation is that they all look slightly bewildered and scared when I talk about the web site.
This meeting the president, Mr W Hargreaves, attended. He’s not been well but he’s getting better now. I only hope that, if I should reach 82, that I’m half as able as he is. Growing vegetables must be good for you!
Anyway, I came back with 82kg of best quality seed potatoes, three rather heavy sacks. Since the temperature had gone up, all the snow had vanished when I got home. Seemed really strange leaving a white land and coming back to normal.
I’ve got, for myself, 2kg of Swift. These are first earlies and I’m going to pop some out really early in my raised bed with a coldframe on top.
2kg of Anya. They’re a cross between Desiree and Pink Fir Apple. Exceptional salad potato with pretty good keeping qualities. Wonderful nutty flavour.
2kg of Kestrel. These are second earlies and good for chips, popular with show growers as well. I’ve not grown them before so fingers crossed they’re good for table. Supposed to be slug resistant as well. That would be a bonus
My final purchase is 2kg of Valor. These I’ve grown before. They’re a good all-rounder with eelworm and blight resistance. Not as blight resistant as Sarpo Mira, but better than many varieties.
I’m hoping to use some of my stock of Sarpo as seed potatoes. We’ve run out of everything else since the crop was blighted, except for Sarpo, which we’ve more than enough of..