Saturday, 22 August 2009

potato harvest - kestrel

Potato harvest is one of my favourite times in the garden. The small child emerges from within me and I allow myself to be amazed as forkful after forkful of big, golden, tubers emerge from the soil where a wizened tuber was planted in the spring.

We grow our own potatoes because you can really taste the difference. Buying organic potatoes each week can be costly - it is great to have our own available for seven or eight months each year.

I have already reported on my disappointment with Sharpes Express as an early potato.

What about the second earlies?

Well, I bring good tidings.

Our favourite variety is Kestrel and once again, it did not let us down.

Our potato bed had hosted grazing rye over the winter. This was hoed off and a thick mulch of compost enriched with rotted manure applied to the soil surface.

The weather has been good for potatoes. although cold winds slowed things in the spring, we have had a good mix of warm weather and rain. Although outdoor tomatoes were badly affected by potato blight, the potatoes themselves seemed to hold on.

Kestrel is a second early. It has rounded tubers, a creamy skin and pretty, purple colouration around the eyes. Its flesh is waxy and yellow, making it an excellent potato for oven roasting or boiling. I think it works less well as a mashed potato, where floury varieties win. This year, the tubers were of good size, and some were very large. There were very few very small potatoes that could not be used. There was negligible slug damage, tubers were clean and we did not suffer too badly from blight although a small number of tubers had rot.

30 kg or 67 lbs of potatoes were bagged from 3kg of seed potato tubers sown. Those pictured are in their unwashed state.

Kestrel is a variety that we have been using for about ten years - and as we have discarded other varieties, this has remained a firm favourite.

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