Potato Day has Gone too Far

March 4, 2013

So yesterday being the first weekend in March, it was time for our annual outing to Potato Day and, worryingly, I realised that this is now our fourth (or our third to the Kelso one as the Bigtown one was a bit more low key). Even more worrying is the realisation that we’re now beginning to get the hang of the whole thing – we even remembered to bring a bag and get there early (10 minutes after the doors opened; it was still packed) although we still didn’t remember any reading material for the other half. Still, he made himself useful picking up the potatoes I was getting for my mum and a fellow gardener in the village and then retired for coffee and cake while I wandered around making my selection. At a competitive event like Potato Day, especially when you’re up against the determined opposition of the massed gardeners of the Scottish Borders, this is a risky strategy but I like to keep my options open in case there’s an amusing looking one or something with a funny name.

potato day 2013

Amazingly, last year I managed to grow exactly the right number of potatoes to keep us through the winter so I knew how many I needed although, as is traditional, I have completely lost track of which ones are which variety so my plan of gradually building on experience to home in on the perfect potato is a little stymied. I did remember that Vales Emerald was particularly successful last year – and that Shetland Dark were particularly decorative the year before. My mum swears by Pink Fir Apple and everyone else raves about Charlotte so I gave those a whirl (although I now realise from looking up my old blogs that I grew Charlotte last year as well and completely forgot so they clearly didn’t leave much of an impression). I filled in the gaps with Highland Burgundy and something else whose name I’ve forgotten but which I’m sure will be wonderful.

That leaves my seed order, which I still haven’t done, not that I’m panicking or anything. Much. I do have some emergency broad beans and some leek seeds which the landlord had left over so it might be time to clear out the shed windowsill, prepare my pots and start thinking about the growing season ahead…

Potato Fail

July 14, 2012

No, it’s not that they haven’t grown – if there’s one crop suited to our climate it appears to be potatoes, which may explain why they along with oats, kale and onions form pretty much the entire vegetable matter of the Scottish diet. And it’s not that they haven’t cropped – we’ve had the first few meals from our first earlies now. And it’s not that I planted too many – we could even do with a few more of the ones we’re digging up now. And it’s not that they explode when you try and cook them – they seem to be resistant to turning into starchy mush the minute they come into contact with boiling water. And it’s not that they don’t taste very good – they are in fact really delicious potatoes, which isn’t something I say that often. Definitely a keeper, and one to plant again next year and in greater quantities

And that’s where the fail part comes in, right from the outset, on potato day, which regular readers will remember is a bit of a scrummage. Reaching in to grab a handful of – more or less randomly chosen – seed potatoes, I chucked them in a paper bag and scrawled down what I thought was the name on the side of the bag, which is easier said than done on a bag full of potatoes in the middle of a crowd of people intent on hunting down the last pink fir apple. They were just really to make up the numbers and they sounded pretty good, from what I could remember. A first early, waxy, something like that. I’d look them up later in the catalogue, and check.

Only when I came to look them up I couldn’t find them in the list which might be because I couldn’t really read my scrawled  handwriting on the bag. A bit of googling, courtesy of ‘Did you mean’ suggests that these delicious and non-exploding potatoes might be Vales Emerald – but then again, they might not. Sigh. One day I’ll be a proper, grown up organised gardener… meanwhile, perhaps get your gardening advice elsewhere.