Potato Harvest 19

It's that time of the season when the foliage of the spuds starts to die back to crisp, papery stems and the promise of all that is beneath is revealed with a garden fork and hungry fingers. Back in May, now a distant memory stretching back over sixteen weeks of a wet, wild and blazing summer on our hillside, Carol planted the varieties Arran Victory, Stemster and Blue Danube. In June we earthed up the spuds; the act of drawing up soil over the growing potato foliage to create more growing space for the potatoes and creating gullies between the rows to create irrigation canals - easier to water, easier to harvest or so the thinking goes. Today, we'll find out.

potatoes, stemster, blue danube, arran victory

On a hot day we pulled up our spuds with a mixture of excitement and disappointment. That's the lottery that is potato growing, some varieties do better in certain years and in other years, the same varieties crash and burn. Let's talk about Arran Victory, Stemster and Blue Danube.


Woman and spuds

Arran Victory came into circulation at the end of the Great War, named after the WWI victory and the island of its origin in the Shetlands. A blue skinned potato with white rich flesh it's an all rounder. We like our all rounder spuds and most of these are in the maincrop arena. All rounders roast, mash and chip. GARDENING TIP: When earthing up create deep gullies for maincrop potatoes and don't be afraid when watering to pour in at least three watering cans per gully/irrigation ditch/canal depending on size of spud wanted.

Potatoes


Stemster is another all rounder but developed in the 1980s. A red skinned potato with yellow flesh and good drought resistance. You'd think that this summer we wouldn't have had that problem but with extremes between temperatures and humidity within hours on one day the spuds did suffer as they didn't know whether to soak up all that rain or hide from the harsh heat of the sun. We even had hail. Finally, we have the spud that claims to be the best roast potato ever, Sarpo Blue Danube. Sarpo varieties tend to be resistant to blight but even after all the summer's rain we came off lightly and we had no signs of blight this season. Let's now look at yields.


Weighing potatoes

Blue Danube was rather depressing to harvest as the potato yield per plant was low. At one plant we had one spud but as we moved down the hill the yields went up, this shows that the potato is a greedy and not drought tolerant. Claims that it is blight resistant had us yelling at the soil, 'Because there's nowt there to blight'. In the end the yield for 3lbs of seed potatoes was 12lb 8oz, a 300%+ yield. 

Weighing stemster potatoes

Stemster was the next row across and with the hit and miss harvest of the Blue Danube we were concerned that the next row would echo the last but at each turnover of the fork lovely red potatoes came to the surface, time after time. The yield speaks for itself, a bag of 3lb seed potatoes provided us with 18lb 11oz, nearly 19lbs! That's a yield of nearly 600%.


Arran victory potatoes

Finally, we come to the old stalwart Arran Victory, again another strong crop in comparison to the new Sarpo variety, from a 3lb bag of seed potatoes we harvested 17lbs 3oz, a yield of approximately 470%. That beats the new sarpo variety by 170%. Sometimes old heritage crops pay shame to the new plants on the block. That means for an outlay of £12 for the three bags of potatoes we have had a 1370% return. That means for every one bag of seed potatoes we put in the ground we got back an average of four bags of potatoes of the same weight of 3lbs. Not bad going for our return to growing spuds in open ground. Oh and in the end it's all down to taste and its a big thumbs up so far for Arran Victory.

Chips and egg

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