You say Po-TAY-to…

… I say, yeah, but what variety of potato?

You see, today, coming back from spending the weekend in Duns, we made a quick detour to the B.O.G. Potato Day in Kelso. I had imagined that this would be something of a minority event, with a few potato enthusiasts earnestly discussing eel worm while displaying, perhaps, a dozen varieties of interesting (and I use the word in its loosest sense) potatoes. Clearly, I had underestimated the gardening enthusiasm of the average Borderer. The first inkling that I might have been a bit naive about this came as we squeezed into one of the last spots in the overflow car park and began the long trek to the actual event. The second was as we paid our pound apiece to get in and were confronted with the sheer noise of hundreds of gardeners in full cry in search of the perfect potato. Stopping briefly to ask a chap who looked like he knew what he was doing for advice on non-exploding potatoes (‘Try 10 different varieties a year and after 10 years you should have some idea of what works for you’ – ‘or Charlotte is a very good variety,’ added the lady next to him, somewhat more helpfully), I gathered up my pencil and a supply of brown paper bags, and began to make my choice.

The potatoes, helpfully, were ordered alphabetically from Accent to Yukon Gold. Less helpfully, there were roughly a million different kinds: earlies, really-earlies, second earlies, maincrops, pink ones, blue ones, yellow ones, white ones, waxy ones and floury ones, potatoes for chips and potatoes for baking, organic and non-organic, old, new, smooth, knobbly, long, round, big, small, and more-or-less potato shaped. Every single one of them was 13p each and you could buy as few or as many as you liked. The other half took one look, handed me some money, and went in search of the promised potato-themed refreshments and I was left, gently boggling, trying to make my choice. It didn’t help that I was up against some nicely spoken, sensibly dressed, elderly and absolutely ruthless queue bargers – and that many of the more popular ones (including Charlotte) were sold out already. So I ended up just choosing them more or less at random based on their names. Well, hey, it works for wine and racehorses, after all.

So – drumroll, please – I am now the proud owner of four brown paper bags containing 10 Orla (waxy, first early), 10 Rocket (waxy, very early, new), 10 Wilja (waxy, second early, boiling) and 5 Edzell Blue (second early, floury and blue, because you’ve just got to try a blue potato, haven’t you?). They’re off to the windowsill now to start sprouting, and if all goes well, I’ll be back to you for recipe suggestions some time later in the year.

14 Responses to You say Po-TAY-to…

  1. Flighty says:

    Potato days have become very popular as you’ve found out! When I started plotting I asked about potatoes and was told find a couple of varieties that you like and can grow well and grow a couple of others as well. On that basis I’m growing Swift and Kestrel as favourites and smaller quantities of Foremost, Charlotte and Desiree.
    It seems that more is said and written about these and tomatoes than all the other vegetables put together!
    That’s chitting not sprouting by the way! xx

  2. Bill Sticker says:

    I find Yukon Gold a great all rounder for fries or mash. Regrettably not such a good one for boiled spuds.

  3. The PaperBoy says:

    I tried some Congo Blue a couple of years ago (good job it wasn’t Moroccan brown eek!) – they were more purple than blue and I don’t remember ever getting a successful boil, bake, roast or chip out of them – the mash was highly amusing – being as it was electric purple in colour. Taste was great though.

  4. disgruntled says:

    I was looking for something that would boil, also make nice wedges. The blue ones only have blue skins, so hopefully won’t be too disconcerting to eat. We’ll see…

  5. M says:

    I can understand your confusion, like the time we went to the pencil museum and had to queue up for a lifetime to get in. You can never tell what will be popular.

    I hope your potatoes grow well and look forward to seeing what you do with your crop(s).

  6. 2whls3spds says:

    We grow red, white, and blue potatoes…family tradition has us making Red, White and Blue potato salad for the family Fourth of July celebration. The white potatoes we grow are Burbank Russet(Long Season Maturing Storage Potatoes) which is a forerunner to the Idaho potato. I have some seed stock that is from old genetic stock and has been raised organically. The red and blue are some sort of hybrid.

    My Irish heritage shines through when it comes to potato consumption…


  7. disgruntled says:

    M – I’ve still to visit the pencil museum, but it’s on my list
    2W3S – good idea. Although if you’re true to your Irish heritage, surely you should include some green ones…

  8. Sarah says:

    Given the large dose of blight we had last year, that will be my sole choice factor this year.

    In that regard, buying some for dinner from Tesco and planting the ones we haven’t eaten is clearly not the way to go…

  9. […] knew I’d bought blue seed potatoes. I even knew roughly where I’d planted them, although Iwasn’t quite sure which were […]

  10. […] I have to do is mark out the new beds and decide what goes where, get my seed potatoes (it’s Potato Day on Sunday) and I’m all set for […]

  11. […] or at least the local garden centre near Bigtown. It wasn’t quite as big a deal as the BOG one in Kelso last year, and you couldn’t buy single seed potatoes but only big or small bags, but there […]

  12. […] early March (I know, where did the time go?) which means only one thing: potato day. We opted for the BOG one in Kelso again, only this time, two years on, we were hardened […]

  13. […] Followed by one of the highlights of the year: potato day (we’ve been here before) […]

  14. […] could be the variety*, I suppose, although I’ve grown every sort of potato there is (and there are a lot) and every single one of them has exploded when we attempted to boil them. It could be digging them […]

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