Rincewind’s greatest desire was for a plateful of potatoes. Now, I don’t think I get that excited by them – picture soggy mash or boiled potatoes you could bounce off the wall (old school dinners any one?) and I’d rather have pasta. On the other hand, I like crisps as a snack, chips (from a decent chippy) and roast potatoes with a meal are another matter. Another attraction is that for someone like me, who does not have green fingers, they are relatively easy to grow. Of course there is the proper way to prepare the soil, earth up etc but you can get a crop if the best you can do is benign neglect. Last year was an exception because, although the weather could have been worse, it was warm too early and cold midseason and it rained at the wrong time – I ended up watering our potato plants much more often and ordinarily it would not have been necessary. Still, we got a crop.

This weekend HDRA (also known as Garden Organic) held their annual Potato Day. OK so it’s a bit of a niche hobby, perhaps, but the advantage of it is that you could buy individual seed potatoes if you just wanted to have a go.Some in the crowd were like me – more of a hobbyist than a gardener. Some were obviously taking it more seriously and left carrying several bags of different kinds of potato. There was even a presenter from BBC’s Gardener’s World (Alys Fowler, I think it was) chatting away while the camera panned up and down a display of potatoes. I would think that a fondness for potatoes has gone too far if you start admiring their good looks – potatoes are for growing, cooking and eating.

My first attempt at growing them was a single potato in a large (45 cm) pot. Recently I have discovered that you can plant two or three tubers in a large pot or sack and get reasonable results. The keen gardener or allotment holder will buy sacks of them and do several rows.  Sorry but not only does that seem too much like hard work but I really haven’t the time. Perhaps half a dozen in a corner somewhere this year but it will have to be according to the “benign neglect” school of gardening.

But it can be fun trying out different varieties of potato. Yes, I really did type that last sentence. If you’ve ever tried Salad Blue, which are a purplish-blue in colour and watch the colour change as you cook them, you’ll see what I mean. They don’t really work boiled as they tend to fall apart but you could see if your friends will eat blue mash. And it really can make a difference as some varieties are better as a salad potato (if you like that sort of thing) and some are better for chips. Despite the name, the aforementioned Salad Blue potatoes are best sautéd.

I don’t necessarily expect great success with growing potatoes but growing pasta just isn’t an option.

Advertisements