It was as cold a May as I can recall – except, perhaps, for that time during my college days when, on a day early in May, the theory of lolling around on warm grass was replaced by the practice of scurrying to avoid a brief, freak snow flurry. And though this year’s May might not have been snow-cold, it was, for most of its length, nippy nonetheless. During that unseasonably chilly month, I watched as my emerging tomato plants steadfastly refused to budge beyond their seed leaves, as if to say ‘feck this for a game of cowboys, wake me when you have the heat on.’ It’s only the belated arrival, in the past few weeks, of some actual summer warmth that has, at last, spurred them into growth.
Let’s just say I know how they feel.
Daily Spud observers will have noticed an extended period of dormancy hereabouts but, whether it’s the warmth, or the season of new growth, a bout of spud activity this way comes, with me in the thick of it.
- This weekend sees me return to the Spud-off Mór in West Kerry – the original inter-parish potato growing competition, now in its sixth year and a glorious mixture of seriousness and craic. You can get a flavour of the event from my adventures there two years ago.
- Hot on the heels of the Spud-off Mór – and at the opposite end of the country – is the Comber Earlies Festival in Comber, Co. Down, which takes place from Thursday 2nd July to Sunday 5th July. Home to the Comber Early potato, which was granted European PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status in 2012, the festival is is making its third appearance this year, though it’ll be my first time to attend. Activities will include a family festival day in Comber on Saturday July 4th, with entertainment, workshops and, rumour has it, a talk by yours truly, so watch this space.
- …and, yes, there’s more. While the blog may have been dormant, the spud world has, unsurprisingly, continued to turn (and I have even been found writing elsewhere on spud-related topics, such as Keogh’s, their crisps, and their #PerfectPicnic campaign). Notably, GIY, the dynamic grow-it-yourself organisation, are, this summer and in conjunction with Bord Bia and potato.ie, rolling out their own GIY version of the Spud-off competition – so expect more of that anon. Dunno about you, but it’s good to feel the warmth of spud activity once again.
This year, in addition to the main event, where the various parish and schools winners will present the potatoes that they have grown for final judging, the organisers have added a spud dish competition – Práta Pláta (meaning potato plate) – and it will be my privilege to assist with the judging.
For anyone in West Kerry this weekend, I wholeheartedly recommend getting yourself to Ballydavid on Sunday June 28th where, from 3pm, a specially erected marquee will host a program of events, including the Práta Pláta competition and Spud-off Mór final, along with music, kids entertainment and general carousing in the name of the spud.