Weald potato tour – Nadine

A relative newcomer, introduced in 1987, Nadine has rapidly become popular second early variety with home growers for several reasons:

— High yield
— Uniform shape and size
— Strong resistance to eelworm and scab.

With a white skin, cream coloured flesh and a firm waxy texture, Nadine is a good all rounder although not ideal for mashing. Second earlies are generally ready between 15 and 22 weeks from planting and Nadine is on the later end of this harvesting spectrum. £4.85 per 2 kilo bag, £4.35 for WAGA members and £3.85 for WAGA members ordering and paying before 31 October. That’s the end of our potato tour and you now have until Sunday to choose, order and pay for next year’s potatoes if you want to get the earlybird price!

Weald potato tour – Lady Christl and Sharpe’s Express.

We’re close to the deadline for getting the best prices for your seed potatoes, which is why we’re giving you details on two different first earlies today. They both have something else in common – unusual names!

Despite a lot of research we haven’t been able to find out why Lady Christl has such a strange name. Anyway, regardless of its odd spelling, the Lady Christl is a extra-early first early which produces pale, medium sized tubers as early as eight weeks after planting. You can leave it in the ground longer as it’s not prone to disease, but after 11 weeks the skin does start to become more tough and chewy.

The flesh is surprisingly yellow for such a pale potato and is smooth skinned with almost no eyes. This is an ideal potato for boiling and steaming as it holds its shape well, which also makes it good for parboiling and sautéing. A bit moist for chips though.

Then there’s Sharpe’s Express, which – despite its name – has nothing to do with the Napoleonic war novels. Instead it’s a spud that was introduced over a century ago, in 1900 by its breeder, Charles Sharpe. It’s a Lincolnshire potato, which means it likes lighter soils than it sometimes find in Sussex, but don’t let that put you off. This is a pear shaped potato, predating the modern trend for oval tubers which relates largely to making chips. It’s another first early, but this one has pure white flesh. Ideal for boiling, it’s less waxy than many first earlies but as it holds its shape well, it makes a perfect cold potato salad.

Both of these are £4.85 a bag, £4.35 for WAGA members and £3.85 for WAGA members ordering and paying before 31 October.

Weald Community Food Centre update

We’ve been having some lovely messages from people who use the fridge, or our delivery service, and it’s a while since we shared any of them with you, so here’s a recent one from one of the organisations we support with supermarket surplus food combined with donated fresh allotment produce:

“Just thought you would like to hear about a little boy at our school who wrote a note for the ‘worry box’. he said he was worried that they didn’t have enough food to eat at home. We made up a large bag of assorted food and sent it home on the minibus with him. Thank you, you are all doing a fantastic thing.”

Thanks to everybody: the fridge heroes, the foragers, the allotment-holders who donate food, the delivery team, everybody who make sure little boys like this can stop worrying!

Weald Potato Tour – Home Guard

Home Guard was introduced to the public in 1942, hence its name. It was popular then because it offered relatively high yields and can be lifted early, freeing the ground for other crops in the ‘dig for victory’ campaign.

Like many other first earlies it can be harvested around 13 – 15 weeks from planting, but Home Guard is reliably ready at 13 weeks. It’s also resistant to both scab and spraing – spraing being the term for many kinds of brownish blotches found when you cut a potato open, but invisible on the outside. Spraing isn’t common in the UK, but can be a problem for commercial growers where the nematodes that cause it can destroy the commercial value of a crop in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, back to the point. Home Guard is on the waxy side, white-skinned and produces blunt oval tubers which can vary in size in drought years. Good for baking, boiling or chipping, not quite so great for mashing. £4.85 a bag (that’s two kilos of chitting potatoes), £4.35 for WAGA members and £3.85 for WAGA members who order and pay before 31 October.

Soup Sunday – 1 November

On 1 November 2020 and every first Sunday of the month until April 2021, the Weald Community Food Centre will be preparing and serving a vegetarian soup with bread for anybody who chooses to come along at 13:00 until the soup runs out!

Each month the soup will combine fresh allotment produce donated by allotment holders and supermarket surplus food. It will be cooked by a different community group or family and served outdoors in the Memorial Garden in our amazing purple gazebo to preserve social distancing. Suggested donation 50 pence, but it’s free to anybody over 65, as one focus of Soup Sunday is to give older people living alone a chance to eat well, talk to others and go home with a new recipe and a new enthusiasm for cooking.

Our picture shows Naoko Kondo and Yayoi Blow who are November’s soup dragons! They will be cooking miso soup with rice balls … we look forward to sharing it with you. Please bring your own mug if you’re an allotment holder and remember to be aware of social distancing.

Weald potato tour – Kestrel

Kestrel is a second early variety that is deservedly popular with the allotment gardener for a couple of reasons: it’s very tasty, highly slug resistant and does well in heavy soils, so it’s perfect for the seam of clay that runs right across the middle of the Weald site.

It’s a nicely sized tuber with pale smooth skin and violet eyes. If the spring varies between dry and wet, the tubers can vary in size, but with even watering you get large potatoes that work as well for baking as for chipping and mashing.

£4.85 a bag, £4.35 a bag for WAGA members and just £3.85 per bag for WAGA members who order and pay before 31 October.

Weald potato tour – Charlotte

If you ask people to name a potato, they’ll usually know the King Edward and the Charlotte. It’s not clear whether this is clever marketing of the Charlotte variety, or genuine uniqueness, but certainly it’s a potato that’s very well known.

A second early variety, that’s highly waxy so it holds its shape well and works perfectly for potato salads, it’s also good for sautéing. The downside of Charlotte is that it’s rather prone to eelworm, so if that’s a problem on your allotment, don’t leave them in the ground a day longer than necessary.

£4.85 a bag, £4.35 a bag for WAGA members and £3.85 a bag for WAGA members who order and pay before 31 October – that’s just a week away, folks!

Weald potato tour – Picasso

Picasso, a hybrid bred out of the popular Cara potato, is a maincrop potato that has two major advantages: it produces a vast number of tubers and those tubers are huge!

The white potatoes are smooth with pink eyes and ideally suited to baking or mashing. It’s comfortable in most soils but does need full sun to be at its most productive.

£4.85 a bag, £4.35 for WAGA members and £3.85 for WAGA members who order and pay before 31 October.

Weald Potato tour – King Edward

Introduced in the year of Edward VII’s coronation (1902), the King Edward has stood the test of time for two reasons: it has an unparalleled flavour and is of above average disease resistance.

There are a couple of downsides to the King Edward: it’s not massively productive, which means that it isn’t going to be the best choice for a large family that’s trying to be self-sufficient from its allotment, and the one weakness in its disease resistance profile is eelworm, to which it succumbs pretty easily.

With a creamy skin and rosy blushes around the red eyes, King Edwards are fluffy and ideal for roasting, baking and wedges. £4.85 per bag, £4.35 for WAGA members and just £3.85 for WAGA members who order and pay before 31 October. And please remember that anybody can join the Weald Allotment Gardeners’ Association and benefit from our community buying policy – you don’t have to have an allotment at the Weald.

Weald potato tour – Desiree

A child of the sixties (it was released for public sale in 1962) this potato has been dubbed ‘the most popular red potato in the world’ by a major seed company. We think that’s a bit excessive, given that South America has over 4,000 varieties of potato – many of them red – but it’s an understandable hyperbole.

Desiree is a good looking potato which makes large tubers as a main crop or smaller ones two or three weeks earlier which is valuable if you need to get your spuds in early, for example if you’re in a high blight risk area. It has pink/red tubers with shallow eyes and is used for boiling, baking, chipping, mashing or roasting. This versatility makes it a great family choice. The only downsides are that it’s not much use for potato salad and it has very low resistance to eelworm.

£4.85 per bag, £4.35 for WAGA members and £3.85 for WAGA members who order and pay for their potatoes before 31 October 2020.