David kindly sent me a sample of three of the Sarpo varieties - Axona, Kifli and Shona. There were four tubers each of the first two types and five of the latter. Since I was already well-off for seed potatoes, I gave two of each type to my daughter Emma, who lives nearby.
This is Axona, a red-skinned Maincrop variety:
This is Kifli, a Maincrop in terms of its maturity time, but evidently used more as a "New" potato.
And this is Shona, an oval, white-skinned Early Maincrop one:
Since my other potatoes are either already planted or have been chitting since late January, these Sarpo varieties are a long way behind them, but I hope that keeping them indoors in the warmth will bring them on quickly enough. The cultural notes on the Sarvari Trust website state "Kifli is best planted early as it is a slow starter", so this is the one I will be most concerned about.
I don't normally grow Maincrop potatoes (except for "Pink Fir Apple"), because they are very vulnerable to late blight, but that is the whole point of these Sarpo potatoes - they are specifically bred for disease tolerance. Maybe these ones will enable me to extend my potato-production season? Critics say that the Sarpo potatoes have concentrated on developing blight-resistance at the expense of some of the potato's other characteristics, like taste and texture, but my trial will allow me to judge the truth of this matter for myself.
All my First Early and most of my Second Early potatoes have been planted now. The most recent to be planted were four tubers of "Balmoral". This is a Second Early variety which produces oval tubers with yellow flesh and attractively pink-splashed skin.
|"Balmoral" - photo from 2014|
They have gone into these big plastic pots. They are not the massive new ones, but big ones nonetheless - ones I have used successfully before. I have covered them with wire grilles (shelves from the mini-greenhouses), held in place by heavy stones, as an attempt to stop marauding foxes from rooting around in the compost (as they do!).
My thanks to David Shaw and the Sarvari Trust for the free samples. I will report honestly on how they perform!
I'll be interested to hear what you think of these potatoes as I too have heard that the taste is lacking in these blight resistant varieties.ReplyDelete
What is your long term plan for you beds? When will they all be transformed to the new taller ones? I'm assuming you have a plan.ReplyDelete
Yes, I do have a plan! I am going to progressively convert all my raised beds to the deeper pattern. I just haven't decided when - probably 2 per year...Delete
We grew Sarpo Mira once which is blight resistant. It did well to resist the blight but wasn't too good on taste. Also the plants just kept on growing and eventually needed cutting down if we had let them carry on the potatoes would have been the size of footballs.ReplyDelete
Well, I think some potatoes (even if not very tasty) are better than no potatoes! I don't normally grow potatoes for storing, so I seldom grow Maincrop ones, but if I did, I think the Sarpo ones would be pretty attractive to me. We'll see how it goes...Delete
Including at least one or two disease resistant varieties, just in case, is a great idea - I learned my lesson the hard way on that one a couple of years ago with tomatoes. Of course, they have to taste good as well - no point in growing a bountiful, disease free crop if it isn't enjoyed once it's on the plate.ReplyDelete
To a certain extent you can compensate for lack of flavour by adding other ingredients - for instance a Gratin Dauphinois, made with cheese, cream and garlic!Delete
Grew sarpo mira last year - first time we managed to produce main crop potatoes free of blight in years. Agree with Sue, very vigorous growth, but good for cooking so have got some more for this season.ReplyDelete
Oh, so you think they were OK in the Taste Dept then?Delete
Made very nice mash or jacket potatoes - there are probably finer flavoured boiled main crops, but at least these survived blight, so we felt kindly disposed towards their generous crop! They also did well growing in a partially shaded area of the plot - so that could be a bonus in your garden too.Delete
Interested to see what happens. Good that they tell you what the potatoes will be good for in cooking too.ReplyDelete