Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 25 January 2008

2008 International Year of the Potato

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

- 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.

- 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'.


  1. A lovely selection! Not for coastal tropics, I'm afraid...
    And why can you only call them Jerseys on Jersey?

  2. I'm hosting an event to celebrate the IYP - I hope you'll join in!


  3. Dinahmow - 'Jersey Royals', like Cheddar cheese and Champagne have special protection under EU law – they can only be grown/made in a specific region to use that name. I've put a link to the government site.

    Alex - there are so many potato varieties, have fun finding good recipes. Freshly dug new potatoes are my favourite, but I'll have to wait until June!


  4. Celia, yes I knew about it as well. In fact, like you, I thought I'd do a post about it. I have a pickle of a time because there are WAY too many ideas for posts and not enough time to do them all! If I had the time I could post at least two posts each day for my blog!! Crazy. So glad you did one for the lovely spud!

    PS: I'm finally registered over at Blotanical but can't for the life of me figure out how to "favourite" someone. I saw your blog on the front page but have no idea how I can add it to my Blotanical faves.

    Diane at Sand to Glass
    Diane's Flickr photos

  5. Okay, I did it. I just wrote a wee post on the mighty spud. I'm challenging other gardeners to come and let me know when they post about the spud for Year of the Potato as well. My goodness, I meant to mention before -- you are very organized in how you prepare your seed potatoes!

    Diane at Alberta Postcards, was Sand to Glass

  6. Isn't the potato a thing of wonder and beauty? You have collected a great slection here.
    This is the first year I will be able to grow them, as I now have enough space. I have my Earlies chitting on my son's bed-I hasten to add, he's not using it!

  7. I've ordered International Kidney and Red Duke of York. Haven't arrived yet, but I'm collecting egg boxes for when they do. I still have some purple Vitelotte seed potatoes I saved from last year as well.

  8. That looks a lovely selection and very organised! Nicola potatoes have a lovely flavour; one of my favourites. Pink fir apple are good too although fiddly to peel.

  9. Thank you for all the enthusiastic comments about spuds!

    Diane, your post was so interesting, hope you have a great potato crop in 2008.

    Threadspider, how cosy for your chitting potatoes to be on a comfy bed!

    Matron, egg boxes can be very useful!

    Maddles, it's good to know 'Nicola' has a good flavour. I grow Pink Fir Apple every year - I really don't mind peeling fiddly potatoes, they can always be cooked with skins on!

  10. That's a pretty good selection they have on offer in your local garden centre, and it's always nice if you can buy them loose and try small amounts of several different ones. So many of the more commercial garden centres only offer a tiny selection which you have to buy in big pre-packed sacks.

    The new ones I'm trying this year are British Queen, Sharpe's Express and Kestrel, along with all the weird and colourful heritage varieties I've already collected.

  11. Last year I tried the Ratte and they were great. I also grew the Red Duke of York, another tasty tater.


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