oh, chit

April 1, 2011 at 10:50 am 21 comments

‘Sort of successful‘ is how I’d describe my first attempt at saving seed potatoes.
Stored in egg boxes for 6 months in a cool, dark cellar some varieties of potato survived their hibernation better than others.  All had quite happily sprouted a little or a lot and many were well on the way to walking themselves up the stairs by the time I remembered them!
Some varieties (Epicure, Nicola, Vales Emerald and Red Duke of York) were entirely exhausted by their efforts; shrivelled, stone-like and with little life left to form new sprouts once their overgrown feelers were removed.  A great shame as these were some of the most flavourful varieties from last years’ experiment.  We’d eaten most of the big potatoes and saved only the smallest ones so it’s a lesson learned for next time – big is better for seeding a new generation of spuds.

I store my lifted main crop potatoes in old pillowcases for eating later in the year but it’s easy to forget them though once they leave the kitchen for cellar.  It was certainly a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for these Robinta potatoes once we hit the busy-ness of Christmas.  Fortunately these leggy sprouts are attached to plate-worthy sized spuds so will live to see another growing season.

Oddly the star of the saved potatoes was the variety we enjoyed eating the least. The Peruvian Purples looked as fresh after 6 months in the cellar as they had when I put them down there.   We found them to be rather flavourless and too dry and earthy to eat without a whopping dollop of butter or lashings of mayonnaise.  I love the colour they add to the plate though so we will continue to grow them and use them as a one dish wonder:  purple potato salad

I’ve got some spare Peruvian Purple tubers so if you’d like to try some just leave me a comment and I’ll email you back about collecting/posting.

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21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Denise  |  April 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Ooooooooooh just like mine.

    Reply
  • 2. Hazel at the Hill  |  April 1, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Hi Nic – in my experience, spuds stored in brown bags in the garage don’t try to throw out chits until about March (in fact mine are still happy dormant), so if you select the ones you want to grow on this year from the sack in the cellar at the end of Jan/early Feb and bring them out into the light ot chit, you should have less ‘shoot spaghetti’!

    Reply
  • 3. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes  |  April 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I’m wondering, whether one could make purple potato bread with those… do they keep their colour on cooking? Now that would be fairly wild…. Peruvian potato and roast garlic bread …. what do you reckon? :D

    Reply
  • 4. Choclette  |  April 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Glad you’re keeping the Peruvian’s even though they aren’t weren’t very impressed with them. We planted ours out last Saturday along with the ones you gave us last year – we’re growing all of them again.

    Reply
  • 5. Choclette  |  April 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    CT has just informed me that (for future reference) you could always pot the long shoots up separately – they often root and grow into usable plants. Or actually, just plant them with the long shoots buried under the ground – these might even give higher yields according to some research.

    Reply
  • 6. Mal  |  April 1, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Love it Nic. Most honest & best post I’ve seen this year!

    Reply
  • 7. Nip it in the bud  |  April 2, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Denise – I hope there’s some life left in your alien spuds too!

    Hazel – shoot spaghetti is a fine description. Thanks for the tip, will stock up on brown bags for next time. The Robinta are saveable and I’d decided to just grow our favourites this year including Nicola newly purchased from Wilko!

    Joanna – they do keep their colour and I would love to see what that would be like. Will email – you come to Gloucester for Zeb’s grooming don’t you?

    Choc – I felt bad saying I didn’t like them as much as I hoped. At least I can share the colour love now. I snapped all the long shoots off when I set them out in new egg boxes but I would have been up for trying a little research of my own to see how well they grow. Seems amazing that they would. I read something similar about tomato plants and potting up side shoots that you nip out to create new plants. Isn’t nature amazing!

    Mal – thanks Mal, that’s high praise indeed and going to be hard to beat from here on in {wink}

    Reply
  • 8. Janet/Plantaliscious  |  April 2, 2011 at 11:03 am

    That first photo reminds me of how, as a child, I was scared of sprouting potatoes. I used to physically shudder when I had to go to the dark cupboard they were stored in and bring some out for my Mum. Good job I got over that! Purple potatoes look novel, shame they are not more tasty.

    Reply
  • 9. Reluctant Gardener  |  April 2, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Fantastic stuff, nic, and I love your pics! Someone posted on my blog that Red Duke of York were her fave spuds, and had pink flowers, so I’m hoping to try them this year.

    @ Janet: you certainly aren’t alone in being scared of sprouting potatoes! I still am, a bit, irrational though it is!

    http://www.mandysutter.com/reluctant-gardener-day-220-chitting-an-arcane-practice/

    Reply
  • 10. Nip it in the bud  |  April 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Janet – glad you’re not still traumatised by your childhood spud encounters! re. PPs – it’s all a matter of taste so for a second opinion about worthiness of flavour contact Choclette. We swapped spuds last year and she’s been growing PPs for 10 years.

    Mandy – the charm of growing different varieties is the different flowers you get. Good luck with your reds – you’ll not be disappointed.

    Reply
  • 11. Bilbo  |  April 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Well done Hazel, definitely shoot spaghetti! No idea what your answer is Nic. I thought keeping spuds in the fridge would work but the Peruvian Purple you gave me last year went to mush in about December … sorry :{

    Reply
  • 12. Ann  |  April 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I must start keeping up with the bloggers again. Loved your pictures of your cats when they were kittens!

    Reply
  • 13. Chiot's Run  |  April 3, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I still plant the ones with long shoots, I’ve always gotten a good harvest with them. I bury the long shoots down the row. Those peruvians are pretty for sure, love the color.

    Reply
  • 14. Hannah (BitterSweet)  |  April 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    How brilliant! I’ve never purposefully sprouted potatoes, but now I realize that would be a great way to get more purple potatoes, since they’re so hard to find around here. I’ll have to try this as soon as I can get a batch…

    Reply
  • 15. Nip it in the bud  |  April 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Bilbo – hey ho, July to December is a chilly way to go! Would you have been tempted to make some savoury scones with the peruvian purples?

    Ann – thanks. Just a little time away creates a challenging game of catch up. Always nice to hear from you

    Susy – good tip for next time (I snapped them all off to start chitting again). Although hopefully there won’t be a next time! I’d love to have seen what you’d do with purple spuds.

    Hannah – if you have any larger tubers you can cut them in half to make them go further. Just be sure to give the cut end a chance to dry off properly before putting in the ground. DIdn’t you bake something with purple potatoes?

    Reply
  • 16. Rebsie  |  April 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Ah, don’t throw away the ones which are shrivelled up with only tiny sprouts. They will thrive! Potatoes are amazing survivors … if there’s any trace of life in there at all it will usually manage to regenerate itself. And Choclette is right, the long sprouts would grow into new plants, either separately or still attached to their wizened tubers.

    Oh, and hello by the way. I live just up the road from you, in Cheltenham.

    Reply
  • 17. Nip it in the bud  |  April 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    doh, the terrible deed is done and they’re being recycled into compost waste by now. I will know for next time and it’s amazing to think the sprouts can produce spuds without the tubers.

    I think I recognised your name Rebsie. Bilbo telling me about a Chelt blogger growing heritage peas seems familiar? Is that you? Anyway ‘hello’ back. Hope you’re having a good growing year so far :o

    Reply
  • 18. Rebsie Fairholm  |  April 9, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Hello again Nic. Yes, I am a pea-growing Chelt blogger, and friend of Bilbo. I’m also a friend of Owen at Radix who gave me some potatoes this year which I think came from you (Rote Emma and Gloucester Black Kidney – I found your blog while googling for info on Rote Emma). So if those are among the ones you’ve lost, I’d be happy to give a few back to you after this year’s harvest to re-start your collection.

    Anyway, you have a lovely blog here, and I LOVE the cat pictures!

    Reply
  • 19. Nip it in the bud  |  April 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Rebsie, that’s a kind offer. The Red Emma’s were fine and the GBK although small have been planted thanks to all the encouraging comments here about the survival skills of even the tiniest spud.
    Thanks for the compliment on my blog. Where do you blog about your growing? I love peas but have yet to master getting a good crop at the allotment – I’ve no doubt you have some helpful info on your site. take care and enjoy the glorious weather. N x

    Reply
  • 20. reapwhatyougrow  |  May 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    HI Nic
    It’s been ages since I’ve checked my favourite blogs, and there’s loads to catch up on yours. I love the choices of potatoes you’ve planted, and thanks for sharing with “oh chit”. Happens to me every year, there’s one tray of rather dehydrated potato chits still waiting for us on the windowsill….
    Moyra

    Reply
  • 21. Nip it in the bud  |  May 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Moy – well according to bloggers more expert than me it’s still worth getting your shrivelled spuds in :o) I’m not doing very well at writing or reading blog posts lately. I suspect you’re somewhat occupied by those lovely girls of yours and that gorgeous new green house!

    Reply

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