Sunday 1 February 2015

Hampshire Potato Day

Yesterday I went to the Hampshire Potato Day at Whitchurch, to get my seed potatoes. Since attending the similar event last year I have become a convert to this method of buying potatoes. It is so much better than buying by mail-order: much cheaper and much more flexible.

The event takes place in a school hall, over a 2-day period. The potatoes (provided by Richard Stevenson of Charlton Park Garden Centre at Wantage) are laid out in big plastic crates so that you can inspect them easily, and everything is clearly labelled and fully described. You can buy individual tubers of any variety at 17p each, or £1.50 for 10. Alternatively you can buy a net of 2.5kgs for £3 to £4, depending on the variety.  This arrangement means that it is easy to try some new ones without committing yourself to buying a lot of the same type. However I think it is unreasonable to judge a potato on the results of growing just one tuber, so I usually get at least 4 of each.

Small clear plastic bags are provided (free of charge) for your purchases, as well as self-adhesive labels and pencils to identify what you have bought.

My photos today are a bit poor I'm afraid, because I took them with my phone, whilst holding a heavy basket and being jostled by lots of other impatient potato-enthusiasts! I haven't yet mastered the art of holding the phone steady enough to get a photo that is in-focus and not blurry.

There are lots of things other than potatoes on sale too, such as beans, peas, onions, shallots, garlic etc.

The system for the peas and beans is interesting, if a little unsophisticated. They are sold by the half-pint, which you measure with a suitable glass! For £2 you get at least 150 Runner Bean seeds, which represents excellent value for money. And no carriage charges either!

At one end of the hall are several retail stalls (sorry, no photo), selling all sort of gardening-related produce, such as fresh vegetables, potted plants, seeds, books and handicrafts. A café is provided in an upstairs room. Jane sat there and had a cup of tea and read a book while I browsed the spuds!

Well, here is my loot:

The varieties I bought are:-
First Early
Sharpe's Express
Vale's Emerald

Second Early

Pink Fir Apple

Plus also Runner Bean "Enorma" and Broad Bean "Masterpiece Green Longpod"

I bought 50 potato tubers in total, but some of these will be going to my daughter Emma, who lives nearby. Due to space limitations, I always grow my potatoes in containers, so I don't need very many.

My seed potatoes are now out in the garage, next to the window, (a cool, light but frost-free place), starting the "chitting" process [forming shoots]. They won't be planted for another couple of months.

If you would like to read my opinions of the potato varieties I grew last year, please follow this link to my 2014 end-of-season review.

I wrote last year about my discovery of the Potato Day concept, and you can read about it HERE if you want to.


  1. It's a good way to buy potatoes if you only want a few, or if you want to try different kinds, it's good that you can buy them by the tuber. You find that nurseries sell peas and beans by the half pint glass. I look forward to hearing how your potatoes do for you this year.

    1. The only thing our local Garden Centre seems to sell loose is bulbs. Never seen peas or beans sold loose anywhere other than the Potato Day.

  2. Apparently one of our local nurseries did a sort of potato day this year but we found our about it too late as we had already sent for the potatoes,

  3. I haven't tried visiting a potato day as yet, in fact I'm not sure if any are held near here. I like the idea of seeing the various varieties of potatoes and other "seeds" laid out in bulk for perusal and purchase. I noticed a while ago that a couple of the "big" seed suppliers have started to sell peas, beans etc by the pint and half pint again, can't beat the old methods. As I only grow main crop potatoes in bulk its cheaper for me to mail order them at the moment. My Desiree arrived last week by courier.

  4. That looks like a great event. Hope its a good year for spuds.

  5. That is just wonderful - I really wish we had something like that around here. Unfortunately, we have to resort to mail order.

    The place I ordered from does have a lot of variety (up to 40!) & they sell what they call "foursums" which I am assuming means you get 4 tubers. Unfortunately, shipping almost doubles the cost - I purchased 4 varieties (4 tubers each) and it cost me $20 in total, which seems to be around 4x what your cost is.

  6. Looks like fun and a good way to make new friends!

  7. The potato days are great and so much more than just potatoes


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