Tuesday, October 29

It can pay to break the rules.

We always grow a wide variety of potatoes as we have found that weather conditions, which in turn affects soil conditions, can give very varied performances from one year to the next even on the same plot. Our choice this year were:
  • Charlotte - 60 seeds 
  • Marfona - 30 seeds
  • Swift - 30 seeds
  • Nadine - 30 seeds
  • Nicola - 60 seeds
  • Winston - 60 seeds
  • Vales Emerald - 20 seeds
  • Harmony - 20 seeds
It's always difficult to recommend potato varieties as ones that produce tasty tubers in one area may well be complete flops in another. Jersey Royals may produce good tasting potatoes in Jersey suiting their soil and climate but the equivalent International Kidneys were nothing special when we grew them. It's better to experiment and find the best variety for your own patch. The following is our assessment of how the varieties we chose have performed for us.




We started planting potatoes on 15 April using our lazy method described here and planted our last lot of leftover seeds on 16 June (a whole month after the deadline quoted by all the gardening 'experts').

Our total potato haul this year was:

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Although the overall yield was good on the whole the individual potatoes were smaller.

As differing amounts of tubers were planted I have adjusted the yields to reflect what the equivalent yield from 10 tubers per variety would have been. This has been arranged in order as follows:
  • Marfona 9.0kg (about 50% of tubers had mild slug damage so maybe the equivalent of 6KG of useable potato)
  • Nicola 8.29kg 
  • Vales Emerald 7.06kg
  • Harmony 6.2kg
  • Winston 5.64kg (about 50% of which were damaged by slugs so about 2.82kg of useable crop)
  • Nadine 4.59kg (one bed was badly affected by couch grass)
  • Charlotte 4.73kg
  • Swift 1.65kg
Our most disappointing variety was Swift which proved not to live up to its name by hardly growing at all. This variety made hardly any top growth and consequently little happened below ground! It was a poor performer last year too meaning they performed poorly in both wet and dry conditions. They are off the list for next year. Last year's yield is shown in the chart below. The real chart is here if you have difficulty reading the screen grab below.
Left over Nicola seeds made up the largest proportion of those planted on 16 June and these produced a good crop - just over half the total weight of the Nicola harvest. It paid to break the rules this year as being unaffected by blight the tops continued growing. Another year the outcome could have been very different.
Although Winston produced a good crop it had the highest level of slug damage. Almost 50% of tubers were unusable.The slugs seem to enjoy the flavour. They also seem to be partial to Marfona. Other varieties planted in rows alongside Winston had comparatively little damage. Rows of Winston planted in different areas of the plot suffered equally so positioning wasn't the reason for special attention from slugs.

Last year, for the first time, we tried a sample pack of Vale's Emerald  and liked the flavour so it was included in this year's list and was one of the top performers.

We trialed Harmony this year. It produced potatoes of a good size and quality with little damage and also was a good performer so this will be likely to be a variety that we try again next year.

15 comments:

  1. I think this proves that it pays to not only break the rules, but also hedge your bets with a few different varieties. I wasn't keen on International Kidney either, though I've always loved Jersey Royals which I've bought in the shops. Have you ever tried Pink Fir Apple? I'm going to give them a go next year.

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    1. We have grown Pink Fir Apple, Jo but it was some time ago. From what I remember we liked the flavour but it was difficult to clean especially the smaller tubers but then it became difficult to get hold of and we didn't grow it again.

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  2. This is really interesting Sue.
    I grew International Kidney this year and it wasn't good at all. Also had a lot of slug (and mice) damage, but it tends to be across all varieties. Yours have more discerning tastes, obviously!

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    1. Discerning slugs now there's a strange thought, Rusty

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  3. I have tried to plant potatoes in containers or bed, but always unsuccessful. I have been looking for potatoes varieties that adaptable to hot humid weather on lowland tropics, but I haven't find it yet.

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    1. We all want to grow what we can't have don;t we Endah - I envy your exotic plants.

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  4. Interesting to hear how they all did....but overall you sure got a lot of spuds. I found mine were smaller this year, I've popped a few in my veggie patch last week....s'pose I'm too late for Christmas but a girl can hope eh.....xxxx

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    1. There's always New Year Snowbird. and of course who knows what will happen when you break the rules!

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  5. I grew Swift last year and it was like yours only a few spuds per plant. I have gone back to Rocket for my first early, it is so reliable. I planted some maincrop late last year due to it being so wet, and it was the heaviest yielder! I am going to do the same this year.

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    1. Funny thing this gardening lark, Sharon! I wonder if anyone does well with Swift!

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  6. I love seeing different varieties trialled like this. I'm definitely going to try potatoes next year, so it's helpful to see what works for you.

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    1. Remember though these may not work for you CJ.

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  7. Sue this is a really good post. I'm always interested to see what yields other people get. With growing in pots my yield is always a small one so I'm always looking ahead to the following year to try a couple of new varieties.

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    1. I'm glad you found it interesting, Jo. We keep a record of what we harvest and yield every month on our website which may be of some interest

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  8. This makes me wish I stil had an allotment so that I could try some of your successful potatoes myself! Interesingly I had the same problems with 'Swift'.

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