Vegetables

Potato varieties

There is a huge variety of potatoes; the seed catalogues will list new ones each year. There is also renewed interest in heritage varieties, which are those developed before 1950. These varieties often have outstanding flavour, which is why they have survived. Yields and disease resistance are often poorer than in modern varieties, though.

Award of Garden Merit potatoes

Some varieties have the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). These varieties have been judged as having good all-round garden performance and yield.

Pink Fir ApplePink Fir Apple, one of our favourite potatoes

We have grown and would recommend these AGM varieties:

First early

Second early

Maincrop

The full list of AGM varieties can be found on the RHS website.

Culinary uses

Different varieties are suitable for different culinary uses depending on how waxy or floury the texture of the flesh.

Generally, waxy potatoes are most suitable for boiling as the flesh holds together; floury potatoes have more pronounced flavours and a softer flesh, making them more suitable for mashing, roasting, chipping and baking. Early potato varieties usually have a waxy texture, main crop, floury.

Yield, flavour and resistance

Different varieties also have different yields, flavours and, importantly, resistance to the various pests and disease that can afflict potatoes. If you intend to garden organically or at least with minimal chemical input, select varieties with good pest and disease resistance. Seed catalogues will include this information.

Many seed companies sell collections of potatoes that include a small quantity of a number of varieties which is useful if you want to try a few different ones and look out for local allotment or horticultural societies “Potato Days” in early spring, when you may be able to buy just a few seed potatoes of a particular variety, often heritage and rare ones.

Ultimately choice of variety comes down to a balance of personal preference for flavour, your soil type and climate, and experience of how well they do in your garden or allotment.

Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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