New potatoes, freshly dug from the garden, are one of the pleasures of gardening.
I always struggle to decide which variety to grow. My favourite spud of all time is the Jersey Royal, but the price of them in the shops makes them a luxury food. You also cannot buy them in Ireland anyway.
This year I found a site on eBay that sells the same seed potatoes that they use in Jersey. Potato growers in Jersey market theirs as Jersey Royals, but the seed potatoes they use are called International Kidney.
I could not believe my luck and ordered 2.5Kg (5lbs). They arrived last week and are currently on a window ledge in my unheated porch, chitting. I should have enough for 40ft of potato rows.
That is more potatoes than I would normally eat, but I will leave them in the ground as second early and main crop potatoes.
I also bought a few seed potatoes of an unusual blue variety called Yetholm Gypsy. I have no idea what this potato tastes like, but it is good to experiment with heirloom varieties.
There is little point growing the same varieties that I can buy in the supermarket, so I am looking forward to May and June when my first new potatoes will be ready for digging up.
I will be growing potatoes in containers for the first time. I will be using large buckets with holes drilled in the bottom and will fill them with my own home-made compost to give them an acidic soil to grow in.
Unfortunately I still need to prepare my potato patch, to dig in compost and blood fish and bone fertiliser. I just need three mild days before mid February, which is when I intend to plant the first “Jersey Royals”.
This spring is so mild that I am going to plant them a month earlier than last year. Traditionally you plant new potatoes on St Patrick’s Day, March 17th, but the spuds that escaped harvesting last year are already growing away in the garden very healthily, so I think the chance is worth it.