The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: Potatoes, The Next Generation

Potato sacks

Sacks o' seed potatoes

“Happy Potato Day!” my cohorts chimed as I emerged this morning.

“And a Happy Potato Day to you too,” said I, wondering just how long it would be before Hallmark spotted what was a clear gap in the greeting card market.

Myself and my partners in spuds were all set for the pilgrimage to the 12th annual Potato Day at the Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim. Talk about dedication to the cause – this would, in fact, be my second potato day outing within the space of a week.

Last Sunday I was at the first ever Potato Day at Sonairte, the National Ecology Centre, outside Laytown in Co. Meath, which took place under the exuberant direction of Kathy Marsh.

Potato day Sonairte

Sonairte, the new Potato Day on the block

Dave Langford was there with his collection of heritage potatoes and his encyclopedic knowledge of all things spud. Dermot Carey was quizzed enthusiastically by attendees as he demonstrated old style lazy bed planting, where potatoes are planted on top of grass and sods on each side are hinged over to cover the seeds. Those who were suitably inspired to start planting could choose from a selection of 50 or so varieties of seed potato that were available for sale, and many people did.

Lazy beds

Planting lazy beds at Sonairte

Today’s event at the Organic Centre, with Hans Wieland at the helm, offered visitors a similar program of potato displays, growing advice, as well a menu of hearty potato dishes. Something of a veteran when it comes to potato days, Hans has been running this event on an annual basis for more than a decade and tries to bring something new to the event each year.

Hans Wieland and Dave Langford

Spud enthusiasts Hans Wieland and Dave Langford

And, truth be told, there was something very new to be seen this time ’round.

Dave Langford’s potato collection included, for the first time, potato varieties that he had bred himself. Five years and a thousand potato seeds later, Dave is father to thirteen different types of never-seen-before potatoes, which he names simply Dave’s One to Dave’s Thirteen. Of these, three he classes as good for eating – and while chances are that we’ll never see them in commercial production, it still made for a very happy potato day indeed.

Dave Langford's potato no 2

Dave Langford's Potato No. 2

10 Comments

  1. Have you gotten yours in the ground yet? I’ll scroll back and see… GREG

  2. Daily Spud

    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Ah no, Greg, they’re not in the ground just yet, though the seed potatoes are primed and waiting – I’ll probably get them started in another couple of weeks or so.

  3. Ah sure isn’t every day a happy potato day on this blog? :)

  4. Daily Spud

    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    You’re a fan, then, Aoife, I take it :D

  5. ‘lazy beds’ what are those? Hmmm

    Love this, I also noticed a friend on FB posted my hometown had devised their own tulip bulb…should I figure out a way to make something my own…will think on this one…

    As always I love your post!

  6. Daily Spud

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Well, Chef E, lazy beds are supposedly a less back-breaking way of setting out your potato beds for planting, but the fact is that I don’t think they’re actually that lazy – there’s still a fair bit of digging (and a sharp spade!) involved.

  7. LOL – I bet there is a Hallmark card for this! But thank you for the reminder, I need to get my King Edwards in the ground.

  8. Daily Spud

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    You’re right, Cinabar, there probably *is* a Hallmark card for this! Now, off you go and get those spuds planted :)

  9. I am hoping someone will offer Peruvian papas amarillas for sale sometime soon. The Yukon gold is not an adequate substitute. This variety is a pain to prepare, which is not a problem if you are a Peruvian with several maids, however you can see why the average westerner would prefer a less pock marked potato. (Every little root sprout depression has to be dug out with a knife, and there are a lot of them per potato.) Nevertheless, the flavor is so superior, and the texture just right for the dish “causa”, that it is really worthwhile growing this variety. Can someone help with info. on how to get some of these potatoes so I can get started producing some? Lonni

  10. Hi Lonni (and apologies for the delay in replying). I’m afraid I don’t have any inside knowledge on where you might source papas amarillas in the States (which is where I’m guessing you are based?). There has been some work done at the Scottish Crop Research Institute on breeding potatoes from Peruvian varieties, and these would, I expect, be similar in flavour to papas amarillas (though without the dented skin). Some of these are now becoming available in the UK and Ireland and I believe seeds are available through UK firm Thompson Morgan and from Mr. Middleton’s Garden Shop in Ireland – though I don’t know if there is any US-based source for these at this time.

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