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All hail knobbly veg!

A group of freshly harvested Anya Potatoes

Knobbly old Anya!

I used to grow the same varieties of potato, year after year, until a friend put me onto a fantastic potato event that happens every January up in Gloucestershire at Dundry Nurseries.

This event is host to more potato varieties than you can poke a slug at and the best bit is that you can buy them individually for 15p a pop! That’s real value and also great if you want to try out a few different types without being stuck with a 1.5kg bag of each, desperately stuffing as many into your small plot so that none go to waste.

With the endless list of varieties to choose from I decided that this year I’d have a bit of an experiment and try growing a lot more varieties, especially First Earlies (what most people refer to as New Potatoes), as I used to stick to Second Earlies (also New Potatoes, but are a bit later) and Main Crops (late maturing varieties – August/September – to store and use over winter).

I chose six first earlies and bought three of each for the princely sum of £2.70. I only bought three of each, as I wanted to grow them in potato sacks and any more than three in a sack would reduce the yield (you know that comment about a 1.5kg bag and getting as many in the plot as you can so as not to waste any? Yup, been there, got the T-shirt).

A close-up view of Anya potatoes

The two extremes of Anya potatoes

The varieties I chose were: Adora, Premiere, Anya, Red Scarlet, Winston and Swift.

So far, we’ve harvested three of the sacks. Adora were the first, being very early and the tubers ready to harvest at the end of June. Probably as a result of their earliness, there weren’t that many, but they were a nice size, round, smooth and had a pleasant white flesh. Although they were tasty, the skins were a bit bitter, which is a bit of a drawback for an early potato that you don’t peel.

Next came Premiere. A traditional-looking new potato, managing to produce a good quantity of medium-sized, white, rounded tubers. They were incredibly fluffy when cooked and had a great sweet taste. Recommended.

A couple of days ago I harvested the Anya potatoW. They’re an intriguing shape, and not what most people would be used to when looking for potatoes, as they have been bred from a cross between Désirée and Pink Fir Apple, creating finger-like tubers that are white with a pink blush and also rather wonderfully knobbly. (My partner thinks they look like Nik NaksW.) Due to their slender nature, the crop was quite impressive from just three seed potatoes and the taste is delicious!

Potato shaped like a small fortune cookie

What does your fortune have in store?

Anya is absolutely our favourite so far and definitely going to be on the list of potatoes to grow again next year. As a grower of ‘odd veg’, I’m definitely liking that Anya is a bit of an odd potato straight out of the bag as a result of its knobbly nature too, although one little tuber did decide to grow one step odder than the rest, favouring the shape of a small fortune cookie…

We still have quite a few Anya left, so the other three earlies will have to await their verdict in another instalment, along with the second earlies (which are just starting to go over now) and the main crop which will probably end up featuring in the local Flower Show at the beginning of September.

In the meantime, what potatoes have you been growing this year? Any interesting varieties you’d recommend? Let me know…

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