For those who may have wondered – and with good reason – whether this week’s resumption of service was but a flash in the proverbial frying pan, herewith a new installment in the Spud Sunday series.
Included below is a podcast from the fine folks at the Eden Project, featuring (among other things), an interview with my good self on all things spud. Though this dates from a few years back, it never got an official airing here.
In it, they consider the matter of boldly going to a new planet, and the set of plants that you might want to stash in your spaceship before you go. And yes, long before Matt Damon popularised the notion in The Martian, spuds have been on NASA’s radar as space-worthy starches. In more recent years, experiments conducted by the International Potato Centre in Peru in growing potatoes in simulated Martian conditions have shown positive results.
So, without further ado, here’s the episode (you’ll hear me from about 7 minutes in, on spuds, space and why an extra-long thumbnail can be a very useful thing).
I imagine the words of an intrepid reader echoing – with all the might of a Brian Blessed delivery – into the void that is the almost 6 year absence of posts hereabouts.
Alive, yes, and broadcasting once more into that void.
The truly observant reader may even have noted that, for a while there, The Daily Spud was not at all alive, in the internet sense. Subject to sabotage and more than a little deleted. A nasty business, conducted by faceless villains (and no, not even the anti-carbists would stoop this low).
After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the site has returned, in what feels like a positively Lazarus-style resurrection. And while restoration of the Spud classics would be reason enough to mark the occasion, it also happens that it was on this day, thirteen years ago, that the Daily Spud began.
Now, a surly Teenage Spud might ask who even reads blogs anymore? Isn’t it all tick chat, snap tock and whats not these days? Certainly the internet landscape is much changed since the Spud began, though the only truth that really matters is that nobody will read it if you don’t write it – but if you write it, then perhaps they will come.
Meanwhile, a lone boiled spud sits in my fridge. Evidence that some things remain true in my world – in the matter of a pot of potatoes, it is always worth adding an extra. For the best spud may, in fact, be the leftover spud, for with that spud comes a myriad of future potato possibilities.
Their 225+ varieties of potato, including many rare, old varieties of Irish interest which, for many years, they have displayed and spoken about at events countrywide, have made for a wonderful educational resource, a living history and an important part of our food heritage.
This past weekend I learned of an incredibly severe blow to the collection, a too-harsh lesson in the fragility of preserving old and rare varieties and of not better supporting the people who do that important work for us. While all is not entirely lost, there is much that is, and a challenge has been set for those who really believe that such things are worth preserving.
For the past six years, mid-March has been writ large in my calendar. Not, as you might imagine, because of St. Patrick’s Day in all of its greenery but rather, because it is at or around this time of year that the Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, hosts its annual Potato Day.
It’s an event presided over by Hans Wieland, and a time for people to stock up on seeds for the coming season, to get advice from expert growers, and to hear talks on subjects of interest to the gardener of potatoes, be it on the importance of soil (the subject of an excellent presentation given this year by Trevor Sargent) or on GM or blight resistant spuds, or even a spin through the latest in spud developments from around the world (which was my contribution to this year’s event).
And ever-present, every year, has been a diverse display of potatoes – the rare, old and unusual spud collection that has been amassed, maintained and nurtured over a great many years by Dave Langford, and ably assisted in that task for the past 8 or 9 years by master vegetable grower Dermot Carey.
From my first Potato Day excursion in 2009: what was to become the familiar sight of varieties from the Langford/Carey collection on display