Spontaneous purchases are not part of my character. I don’t buy clothes unless Ann reminds me my shorts are full of holes or my shirts ripe. However, when in nurseries, I find a lot of joy in horticultural purchases. The Christmas Potatoes on display near the till were too much too resist. I had a flower bed extension all ready to plant up. Why not put off the flowers and try Christmas potatoes instead? Consequently, I head home with ten spuds in a plastic bag. Within an hour they were in the soil. Try not to ignore that soil. It was soft and warm and I knew those tubers would leap out. They did and that is the easy part. Getting them onto a Christmas plate is likely to be much harder.
These potatoes were kept chill over the summer to stop them sprouting. The variety is Maris Peer. The book reports this as oval, white flesh, good yields but it will fail miserably in dry soil. The conflict there, of course, is that damp soil means slugs. Will they also have a Christmas treat in mind? The spuds were planted 29th July and 16 days later, I can start earthing them up. The soil is rich, damp and warm so I am in the lap of the gardening gods. In theory they should be ready in 15 or more weeks, when the flowers finish. That puts us well into November so they can then stay in the soil until the big day. However, we need to protect them against frost and ensure they don’t become dry.
My normal potatoes are already on the table. I planted 30, ten earlies called Charlotte, and the rest Pink Fir Apple. That is a salad variety and delicious but very prone to disease and blight. I live in hope. The Charlotte poduced nearly 6 pounds from the first plant (see photo) but less than two for the second. The Pink Fir won’t be ready until September. With potatoes, french beans, courgettes, spinach beet, broad beans and peas, we have eaten our own veg for weeks. We only purchase protein through meat and fish. We also have ample salad and herbs. So, Christmas potatoes are an experiment but then so is veg growing anyway. Anybody who tells you otherwise is a liar.