Choosing which seed potatoes to grow when faced with well over a hundred different varieties is an overwhelming task. Unless you hitch your wagon to an expert like Andy McQueen, and just buy the spuds he names. Which is what I did. In previous years my choice has been limited to 3 or 4 varieties and I’ve planted them in one great sowing-fest at the start of the summer (don’t ask me why the first weekend in June; just a habit that formed the first year of our bumper Robinta crop!). This year I’ll be growing a handful of each of the varieties below and staggering my sowing from April to June.
A heritage variety (1897) making a comeback. Produces a good crop of round white skinned potatoes with floury white flesh. Slug resistant and recovers well from an early cold snap.
Red Duke of York
A heritage variety (1942). Red skinned oval tubers with a dry yellow flesh making it a popular choice for boiling and chipping (don’t disintegrate).
Vales Emerald – a new Maris Peer/Charlotte cross producing early salad potatoes. Round, white skinned tubers with firm creamy flesh. Produces a high yield with good resistance to blight and scab.
A rare heritage variety (1894) becoming more popular. Produces high yields of oval white skinned tubers. Dry, floury white flesh packed with flavour when boiled, baked or roasted. Excellent dry rot resistance.
A Dutch variety producing large oval (almost pear shaped) white tubers with a creamy, almost buttery flesh. A good all rounder in the kitchen with moderate resistance to disease.
A Dutch bred variety cultivated to produce high yields of light yellow skinned tubers in a shorter time period. Firm yellow waxy flesh with a floury taste. Good flavour and excellent boiling qualities.
Sarpo varieties are prized for their resistance to blight and slugs. I bought Sarpo Mira – red skinned oval shaped tubers with yellow, floury flesh. Grows well in a variety of soil types and has vigorous weed suppressing foliage (if blight symptoms appear on the leaves it doesn’t transfer to the tuber). Sarpo Axona also available.
A heritage variety first introduced around 1918. Bluish/purple tubers with brilliant white flesh. Very floury and need to be simmered gently to to avoid disintegration. Particularly well suited to mashing, roasting and baking. Good blight resistance. I thought I must have misheard Andy’s ‘Victory’ as I picked through the ‘Victoria’ tubers but it turns out I should have been searching under ‘A’. Never mind I can look forward to high yields of large yellow fleshed tubers with an excellent flavour and outstanding natural pest and disease resistance instead!
This variety wasn’t available loose so I won’t be growing it this year. Apparently it’s a stunning blue/purple skinned variety with bright white flesh. Produces large oval shaped tubers that bake well.
Evenly sized white skinned round tubers with creamy white flesh. Good flavour and tolerance to blight and eelworm. Dave at out allotment is a fan of Valor potatoes and he gave me some last year. They have a grainy texture and are particularly good in dishes where you want the potato to break down. I’m going to give Valor a miss this year and stick with…
Round red skinned potato with cream flesh. They’re blight resistant and seem to cope well with drought and downpours in equal measure. We adore baked Robinta potatoes so lift these at the end of the summer and store them for autumn.
Oval tubers with smooth yellow skin and deep yellow flesh. We love these salad potatoes – they’re firm and keep their shape when boiled. It appears I’m not the only one to have started growing a variety because it shared my name (a couple next to me at the Potato Day admitted to choosing them because their daughter’s a Nicola too ).
Gloucester Black Kidney
Kindly donated by Andy (every year a couple from Gloucestershire attend the Potato Day event and give him 2 egg boxes of this unusual variety). How happy was I to have been in just the right place at the right time! It’s a main crop heritage potato (date unknown) with good resistance to blight apparently. The only mention I found on the net about growing Gloucester Black Kidney potatoes is a post from fellow growers at The Rococo Gardens in Painswick.
These purple skinned potatoes will certainly lend an interesting color to mashed potatoes or potato salads. They get their color from anthocyanins, the same antioxidants found in blueberries apparently. And they’re not just purple-skinned, but purple through-and-through, and they’ll stay that way even after they’re cooked.
Excellent tasting potato according to the Irish Potato Marketing board. Emma combines earliness with good resistance to the most common potato diseases and good skin finish.
I’m lucky enough to have some Peruvian Purples and Red Emma’s thanks to a spud swap with Choclette. If you’re interested in trying some of the more unusual varieties you may still be able to buy them loose from Dundry Nurseries (apologies for not posting sooner if you find the early varieties are sold out). Unsure how many tubers to get? For two people to be kept in spuds throughout the growing season Andy suggested: 8-10 first early tubers, 10-15 second early tubers and 15-20 main crop tubers.
For information on other Heritage varieties you might like to check out Tracey’s post at I Grow Veg.