Yes really! I haven't made this up. The United Nations, no less, has designated 2008 as the International Year of the Potato. Apparently "The celebration of the International Year of the Potato (IYP) will raise awareness of the importance of the potato - and of agriculture in general - in addressing issues of global concern, including hunger, poverty and threats to the environment".
The last week of January is when I buy seed potatoes and I like to get them from a garden centre that has a good selection of varieties and allows you to buy small quantities. Daughter of the Soil posted the other day about buying seed potatoes from a small garden centre that had 111 varities of spud!!!!! Well, I can't top that, but I had a choice of 31 varieties at Oakington Garden Centre near Cambridge.
My chosen potatoes for The Year of the Potato are:
'International Kidney' - these are the same as 'Jersey Royals' but can't be called that because we're not on Jersey, they grow very well in our garden.
'Pink Fir Apple' - these knobbly pink spuds have a lovely waxy texture, they are late maturing and hopefully will produce a good crop of late summer salad potatoes
'Nicola' - I haven't tried these before, but selected them instead of 'Charlotte' just to see what they're like, they should have a waxy yellow flesh.
'Ratte' - also known as 'Asparges' these are the French gourmet potatoes, less knobbly than 'Pink Fir Apple' they are the choice of many top chefs.
. . . and here they are carefully placed in egg boxes, eyes upwards, in a cool light corner in the entrance hall to my studio, chitting. They will develop little shoots and will be ready for planting out at the end of March.
I also bought shallots and onion sets which were being sold loose so you could select as many as you fancy. I bought Onions, 'Red Baron' and 'Sturon' and Red Shallots 'Pikante'.
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