Quality Seed Potatoes


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.

Today, Sunday, Larry came around and sorted out the potatoes. Luckily for us, Val popped out to the shops so we emptied the sacks onto the kitchen floor and filled a load of carrier bags. Cries of 3 kilos of Winston, 2 kilos of Nadine for John etc. Eventually we had them all split up for their various owners and I got the kitchen floor cleaned before the boss got home. Phew!

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..

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
9 comments on “Quality Seed Potatoes
  1. first-timer just taken on a allotment plot 5ft bramble all over hacking away 2hrs a day moving slow any tips. Really enjoy your website,very informative.

    Jenny & Terry

  2. caroline says:

    How have you stored them? The remaining Sarpo I mean.

  3. John says:

    The sarpo were / are stored in hessian sacks in the shed.

  4. Chris says:

    I stored my potatoes in the garage in old cardboard wine boxes with newspaper on top. It has worked really well and saves buying anything. I still have Red Duke of York, Charlottes and King Edwards all keeping fine.

  5. John1 says:

    Last year I grew Rocket as my 1st earlies,3kg from wilkinsons. I picked some as salad potatoes but found them rather bland so I left 2 rows in.

    I lifted them after 16 weeks and have never seen such a crop and they stored until we ate the last of them 2 weeks ago.

    Already chitting them for this year LOL

  6. John says:

    I’m finally getting a balance on my potatoes, growing the right quantity (with a lot of luck)
    Last year was the worst since 1882 for blight and all we have left are some Sarpo.
    I’ve had good seed potatoes from Wilkinsons as well in the past but I wanted the mix I’ve got and the price wasn’t much different at £1 a kilo, big kilos as well if you see what I mean

  7. John1 says:

    Last year I was very lucky and was untouched by blight.

    I now after years of practice only grow earlies and 2nd earlies.

    Long may this continue

  8. hi there this is my first time i have grown sarpo mira i have got 4 rows of them my question is what do they taste like ? i think your blog is amazing hope to keep intouch with you.

  9. John says:

    Sarpo are different – hard to explain. Solid is a good word. They’re great for potato bakes like Leek & Potato pie but not much cop for frying or roasting.

    Still, if it wasn’t for their blight resistance, we’d be buying spuds by now.

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