This year we grew eleven varieties if potatoes. It sounds a lot more potatoes than it is as we only had five seed potatoes of six of the varieties. A local garden centre held their version of a potato day and we had the opportunity to just try a few varieties that were new to us. This way if there were any that we didn't like we wouldn't have wasted too much space on the plot and time. On the other hand if we liked a variety we could add it to our main list next year. As it happened both these scenarios occurred but more of that later.
Our main choice varieties were supplied in 2.5kg packs which have between about 25 - 35 seed potatoes depending on size. Usually we use up the small seed potatoes by planting two to a hole.
Our choice of early potato was Casablanca. This was the only variety not to be planted through weed control fabric. The tubers were planted with a trowel and earthed up in the usual way. As roots of the early potatoes are dug as needed before the tops have died back the use of weed control fabric would make harvested more of a problem.
As you can see from the above chart in spite of being an early variety, Casablanca was our best cropper. It produced a good harvest last year too and it also scored highly on the taste test. It easily earned its place in next year's list.
We planted up the trial potatoes in one bed and the rest of the varieties were planted in two large beds. All were planted through weed control fabric.
Although it would appear that the variety grown without wcf fared best, this is just a coincidence. Last year we did a controlled test and found that the potato harvests were not affected by the use of wcf.
To compare the yields I multiplied the yield from the trial potatoes by five. Of the trial varieties Amour produced an excellent crop and had hardly any damage to the potatoes.
Martyn's comment after lifting the Blue Belle harvest was that it was hardly worth digging up. This is one that will definitely not feature on next year's list.
Orla produced a good crop which had little slug damage and Setanta a red skinned variety performed similarly.
Valor produced an excellent crop but the potatoes were badly affected by wireworm damage.
Vivaldi produced a crop comparable to Kestrel and the potatoes had little slug damage and it also impressed in the taste test. Kestrel too was almost completely free of any slug damage.
We were not impressed by Vales Sovereign. The crop was very badly affected by blight so to all intents and purposes was a failed crop. Nadine which was growing alongside Sovereign was completely damage free and produced an OK crop. Last year Nadine only had minor slug damage so seems to be a reliable choice but Vales Sovereign is definitely off next year's list.
Winston was on a par with Setanta and Orla cropping wise. Last year Winston was badly affected by early blight but escaped this year. The variety was given a second chance on the grounds of its taste.
It's always difficult to recommend varieties of potatoes as the taste and performance varies according to soil and the conditions that prevail during the season so the above are only meant to describe how things went for us.
We will be looking out for potato day again so we can try more different varieties. Anyone else trying something new or are you sticking to tried and tested?