Potatoes – a new crop for the Convent

Seed potatoes becoming 'chits' - beginning to strike from the 'eyes'
Seed potatoes becoming ‘chits’ – beginning to strike from the ‘eyes’

I’ve mentioned from time to time that I was planning to grow potatoes. I now have the stock to plant. I know you can just use ones from the supermarket but given this is my first effort, I thought I’d do it properly (and the proper seed potatoes aren’t prohibitive in cost). I always loved it when my father-in-law would drop off some of his latest crop but never previously had the space to grow my own.

My first effort will use special potato growing bags – they are not expensive and most of mine have come from Bunnings. They are reinforced heavy plastic type sacks with a velcro pocket so you can access the potatoes from down low.

The bags are partly filled with good compost and the seed potatoes planted and covered. As they grow, you cover any growth with more compost. That’s where I’m up to – actually just the planting. First step is to “chit” the pototoes when you leave them in a protected sunny spot to start shooting prior to planting.

As usual, I’ve perhaps overstepped the mark and found myself with nine different varieties. Gone are the days when potatoes came in simple choices such as ‘new’ or ‘old’ or washed, brushed or unwashed (clean, a bit dirty or very dirty):

  • Desiree – Waxy pink/red skin and creamy yellow flesh – a versatile, fairly waxy variety which is firm and holds its shape and useful for all methods of cooking; from roasting to mashing and salads. One of the common supermarket potatoes.
  • Pontiac – Another of the more common varieties – Pink skin and white flesh A good general purpose spud.
  • Nicola – Yellow flesh. Excellent for mashing and gnocchi and good for boiling, chips and roasting. It has a very buttery flavour. Looking forward to using this after my gnocchi cooking classes.
  • Kipfler – Currently very popular. A waxy, finger shaped with creamy-coloured flesh. Great boiled, steamed and in potato salads and for presentation purposes. I’ve also had it deep crispy fried for chips (like crispy parnsip chips) which were wonderful.
  • Dutch Cream – Delicious potato with exceptionally creamy flesh that is perfect plain boiled or baked. One of the best for roasting.
  • King Edward – This heirloom potato raised in 1902 has stood the test of time. Creamy flesh and skin dappled pink. Great for boiling, chips and mash. Unbeaten for roasts.
  • Mozart – Golden yellow flesh, that needs no additional buttering, makes one of the best baked potatoes. Flavoursome firm red skin makes it a good keeper with good disease resistance.
  • Royal Blue – Royal Blue skin fades to golden brown when made into chips. Creamy yellow flesh ensures delicious mash. Wonderful roasted.
  • New Zealand Yams – Despite being claimed by the Kiwi’s, Oca has long been cultivated by the Andean Indians as a staple alongside potatoes. Cook like potatoes by boiling or roasting, or eat raw after ‘sweetening’ in the sun for a few days after harvest. Flavour is nutty slightly acidic.

Other than the first two, the pototoes came from Diggers. The following websites have great information on the different typs of potatoes.

There are plenty left over which have gone to local friends.I don’t think there will be a potato shortage in Kandos this year. I’m looking forward to experimenting with the different varieties.

My 'tatie bags labelled and planted. There are a few more still to be set up.
My ‘tatie bags labelled and planted. There are a few more still to be set up.

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