My potatoey adventures proceed apace: and now it’s the turn of the maincrops.
I grew only two maincrops this year, mainly because I haven’t yet got my third potato bed up and running (we eat so many potatoes I am seriously thinking of co-opting the chicken run for mass potato production).
Both were recommended for blight resistance – though in the event, only one of them actually stepped up to the mark. Here’s the verdict:
Setanta: Regular readers will know that my experiments with blight-resistant potatoes have so far leant heavily in the direction of the Sarvari Research Trust in north Wales – breeder of the ever-reliable Sarpo varieties. But there are many, many other varieties which claim to withstand blight, of which this is one.
All I can say is – not in my garden. This probably means my brand of blight is the infamous Blue 13 strain, which now accounts for about 80% of blight attacks in the UK. Blight can mutate, so potatoes which were resistant a few years ago may now succumb. Blue 13, aka Superblight, is the latest version and renders even previously reliable spuds like Orla, Lady Balfour and of course Setanta just as blight-prone as any other variety.
Yield: 15kg (tuber blight resistance seems better than foliage)
Flavour: Good: not exactly swoon-inducing, but good
In a word: Collapsed
Sarpo Axona: The fourth of the Sharpies I’ve tried, after Mira, Kifli and Blue Danube. Like the rest it stood proud when all about it had been laid waste. But like the rest, it wasn’t great on the cooking front. Also, I have never seen such enormous tubers on a potato plant before: mine were, almost without exception, absolute whoppers weighing upwards of 500g per tuber (I had to pick out the smaller ones for the picture as I couldn’t actually fit the big ones on the plate). Many were too large to bake: there is such a thing as a potato that’s too big. But it did mean the yield, kilo for kilo, was gratifyingly enormous.
Flavour: On the bland side of acceptable: and roasting, chipping and baking only, as it turns to mush unless boiled very, very carefully.
In a word: Massive
So that brings to an end this year’s experiment, flawed and subjective as it ever was. It’s been a great year on the earlies front; less successful later in the year. And I’ve gone and eaten the last of my potatoes already and I was meant to have loads to store this winter. Must grow more potatoes…
But without further ado, on to the bit you’ve all been waiting for.
The Crocus Kitchen Garden Spud Awards 2014
Best varieties of the year: Sarpo Axona and Ratte
Most elegant spud of the year: Ratte
Best-looking spud of the year: Ratte
Best blight resistance: Sarpo Axona
Best flavour: Ratte
Runner up: Maris Peer
Highest yield: Sarpo Axona
Most like a boring supermarket spud: Setanta
The one I wouldn’t grow again if you paid me: Well, none of them were that bad, but Vales Emerald was forgettable
Supreme reigning champion
It’s the first time I’ve put the first earlies ahead of the maincrops, but you just couldn’t beat them for flavour. It’s revealing: blight resistance is all very well but for some reason you have to pay for that with a poorly-flavoured, if plentiful, potato. Once they can crack that particular conundrum there will be no reason to grow any other kind of maincrop at all.