Our method of growing is as follows: 3 or 4 chitted tubers are placed in a 2 gallon container and just covered with compost. As the shoots grow, compost is added gradually until the pot is full. The pot needs to be well drained.
Potatoes grown in this way with restricted space mature a little more quickly than those planted in the open ground. The yield is lower; usually 1-2 lbs per pot, but can exceed 4lbs on rare occasions. The potatoes are extracted as soon as the leaves turn yellow. An advantage of using pots is that one can sow tubers very early (my earliest usually on Jan 1st) and get very early cropping (mine usually begin on 1st June). The pots are taken outdoors at the start of May but are moved into the greenhouse if late frosts occur. As each pot is emptied, more seed tubers are sown, until about 7th Aug. During June, July and August, daily watering is essential.
Some tubers are not suitable for late planting. I have found the least satisfactory to be GOLDEN WONDER and PINK FIR APPLE, and the best to be PICASSO, EPICURE, CHARLOTTE, KERR'S PINK, BRITISH QUEEN and UP-TO-DATE. Lately, PICASSO seems to be losing its vigour a little.
Note that tubers grown in pots are much smaller than those grown in the ground. Mashing and baking are not generally suitable for pot-grown potatoes.
DIFFERENT VARIETIES, YIELDS AND COOKING QUALITY
BRITISH QUEEN Flowers white with yellow centre. Short to medium haulms; thin. Little to no trouble with blight. Yield typically 1.25 lbs per pot. Matures rapidly. Clean, very pale yellow skin and off-white flesh; very floury. Excellent boiled if not overcooked. Possibly the best mashing variety. Often on sale in Ireland, which is where I first came across it.
CHARLOTTE Flowers white with yellow centre. Medium to tall haulms, very thick. Considerable trouble with stem rots and blight in some years. Yield typically 1.25 lbs per pot, but much lower in blight years. Pale yellow skins and off-white flesh; very waxy. Excellent when new for boiling. No good for mashing or baking; OK for frying in oil when young. On storage the skins gradually become tougher and the flesh less pleasant; by late April, stored tubers may start to go woody.
CHERRY BELLE Similar to Desiree and Romano; a pink tuber, smooth and oval, slightly more waxy than Romano. Insignificant haulms, flowers drop at bud stage, no trouble with blight, good for boiling when new; yield about 1.25lb per pot
CLARET Another "improved" Desiree type. Deeper red, smoother, yield about 1.5 lbs, pale purple flowers. Midway between floury and waxy texture, like Desiree and Romano. Good all-round potato.
CONGO BLACK (CONGO)
Specialist Potatoes, Ltd. say that Congo is pre-1918, a late maincrop; shiny black skin with flesh turning violet on maturity. It is closely related to the wild species. Little is known about the variety but it is believed to come from the Scottish Borders. It's also known as Himalayan Black. I have no idea why it's called "Congo".
DESIREE Flowers pale purple with yellow centre. Medium height haulms, fairly thick. No trouble with blight. Yield 1.5 lbs per pot. Red skin and pale yellow flesh. Good all-round medium floury potato which gives acceptable results no matter how cooked.
DUKE OF YORK and RED DUKE OF YORK Flowers aborted before maturing. Medium haulms; fairly thick. Tubers oval; some almost egg-shaped. Medium-floury variety with yellowish flesh; very good flavour. Some susceptibility to blight. Best boiled but will disintegrate if over-cooked. Yield about 1.25 lbs per pot; the reds slightly more than this. I find the reds a bit more floury and happier in pots than the whites. There is a rare pink variant too; I haven't grown this.
DUNLUCE ELITE A variety similar to CHARLOTTE but longer and thinner. Skins and flesh pale yellow; very waxy in texture. Really a salad potato; best means of cooking is boiling but adequate for frying early in the season. Some blight susceptibility.
EDZELL BLUE Flower white with yellow centre, short to medium short thin haulms, sometimes blight on a few tubers, yield typically 1.25 lbs per pot, blue skin which fades on cooking, white flesh. Very floury potato, high dry matter. Good boiled whole (but will disintegrate rapidly if boiled too long), good mashed, good for frying in olive oil, usually too small for baking. Stores reasonably well but will sprout before most other varieties. Watch for blight in stored tubers. The potato expert Alan Romans writes in his "Guide to seed potato varieties", published, by Thompson & Morgan, that its successful boiling was the test of a good farm cook in Eastern Scotland.
One interesting property of Edzell Blue is the way it reacts to blight. Affected tubers are a different colour - mottled blue and white instead of the usual blue. Blighted tubers also have a characteristic smell not found with other varieties.
EPICURE Flower white with yellow centre. Haulms short, fairly thin. Little trouble with blight; reliable cropper. Matures rapidly in pots. Floury potato,knobbly shape, yield around 1.25- 1.5 lbs per pot, white skin and flesh. Good boiled whole, good mashed. Very good flavour. The most popular garden variety in Scotland.
Has been used to make crisps- they were named after the potato. It is the russet sport of the English variety, Langworthy. A typical root will show the odd tuber of Langworthy, or some tubers with mixed character (half russet, half white). ....see the page about chimeras: "Potatoes and Dragons", on the main potato page.
HEATHER An unreliable yielder in pots; some plants do not seem to prosper and produce weak, spindly growth; others strong, heavy haulms. Yield around 1.25 lbs. Very similar in texture to Golden Wonder; very high dry matter; floury, good for frying. However, reluctant to chit and consequently difficult to grow early in the season. Jack Dunnett variety - dull purple skins.
HIGHLAND BURGUNDY RED
ISLE OF BUTE
JERSEY ROYAL Yield around 1.25 lbs per pot; white flesh; pale yellow skin. Waxy in texture. Note that if grown in the UK it does not have the same flavour as Jersey-grown tubers. Best means of cooking is boiled whole. Official name is "International Kidney". For the Jersey market they are picked immature, at which time they are waxy, rather like a salad potato, and very distinctice. Grown to maturity they change character and become more floury.
KERR'S PINK Flowers seldom seen. Haulms thin and relatively weak. Little trouble with blight, though is slightly susceptible. More inclined to scab. In pots it forms rather small tubers of excellent flavour; high dry matter and very floury; good for frying and boiling if not over- boiled. Yield about 1.25 lbs per pot. In the ground it forms tubers which are superb for mashing, bettered only by British Queen.
KING EDWARD Tall, thick haulms, a little less vigorous than PICASSO. Some susceptibility to blight. Yield around 1.5 lbs per pot. White skin with red eyes; very pale yellow flesh. A floury potato (more so than PICASSO). Good boiled, mashed, baked or fried in oil. The variant RED KING EDWARD is a little more floury and for me produces higher yields; skin red which often covers the whole tuber but sometimes with white patches.
LINZER DELICATESSE Salad potato, white skinned, similar to Charlotte but longer, thinner and smoother skin. Waxy texture; keeps well, no flowers (drop at bud stage), medium haulms; little trouble with blight in most years.
ORION Reputedly interesting blossom, but flowers often drop at bud stage. Knobbly white potato strongly attached to the roots; in dry soil all of the tubers come up when the plant is pulled out. No trouble with blight. In pots tends to produce a low number of fairly large tubers. Yield 1.25lbs. Cooking qualities: floury, good flavour and texture; would mash well. Cultivated by Dr T.P. MacIntosh just after the Second World War.
PENTLAND DELL Flowers drop at bud stage. Haulms medium strength; little trouble with blight. Good all-round potato grown in ground; good boiling tubers in pots. High dry matter; quite floury; fries well and is also good for baking and mashing.
PICASSO Easily the best cropper in pots. Flower white with yellow centre; tall, thick haulms; no trouble with blight, yield often in excess of 2lbs per pot,can reach 4lbs, white skin with red eyes rather like King Edward, which it closely resembles. Medium floury potato; gets more floury on storage. Stores well. Good boiled, mashed or fried in olive oil; good baked. However.....for the last two years (2002-3) I have noticed a dropping-off in vigour and much lower yields and may switch to Epicure.
PINK FIR APPLE Flower white with yellow centre, tall thin haulms, very prone to blight, yield typically 1.5 lbs per pot, very waxy potato, knobbly shape, flesh white. Good boiled whole, good fried in olive oil; unsuitable for baking (too small in any case); unsuitable for mashing (impossible to peel).In bad blight years, yield is zero. In pots, not worth planting after about July 14; grows too slowly.
ROCKET Fast maturing "early" variety. Weak haulms; susceptible to blight; no flowers (drop at bud stage); very white flesh, waxy, flavour indifferent to average; not in the same league as British Queen, Golden Wonder, etc, but it does mature rapidly. OK for 1st early.
ROMANO Raised from Desiree; medium haulms, no trouble with blight, pale purple flowers, yield around 1.5 lbs per pot; firm textured slightly floury potato of excellent flavour; less irregular in shape than Desiree; no trouble with blight. Good all-round potato; good as new salad potato when young; very good baked; reasonable mashed.
Photographs of the tubers from this experiment are
shown here... click on the
small image if you wish to see the detail.
Flowers generally drop whilst at the bud stage so no idea of colour; short, thin haulms; no trouble with blight; yield around 1.25 lb per pot; tubers small and roughly elliptical with blue-black skin; flesh pale yellow with an unusual purple ring inside. Floury in texture; sweet flavour; good for boiling and, if large enough, for mashing. Colour fades to grey on cooking. Note that Shetland Black has shallow roots; I grow them in 4-inch deep trays rather than ordinary pots.
Unremarkable floury potato a little like BRITISH QUEEN;
more susceptible to blight; similar shape. Flowers drop at bud
stage. Flesh cream; good flavour. Haulms rather thin but very
leafy ("spectacular" according to some authorities but looked
fairly ordinary to me). Yield about 1.25lb.
WILJA Pale purple flower with yellow centre. No trouble with blight. Haulms quite small - a good pot variety, but widely available anyway so probably not worth growing in pots unless you have late seed which needs using up. Yield about 1.25 lbs. Too well known to describe here.
It had not been placed in the National Collection prior to its discovery in 1998, when one cut tuber was passed to Alan Romans by a retired gentleman, Mr Little of Kelso. Mr Little had known of it all his life. The first disease-free plants were grown in 1999 producing fairly numerous oval blue/purple tubers. The blue/purple layer of pigment overlays a red layer, which in turn gives way to non-pigmented skin. Some of the tubers show random flashes of all three colours.
The blight susceptibility is peculiar. If sown early, some of the plants make strong, rigid growth, rather like Kerr's Pink and Golden Wonder, and are only slowly affected by blight. Planted late in the season, they rarely get very large and are badly affected by late blight.
YUKON GOLD Very similar to PICASSO; slimmer haulms which are tall and need staking
if it rains heavily. A white potato with extremely
faint pink eyes; flowers drop at bud stage.Appears
to be a good pot variety; produces a few large tubers.
Yield lower than Picasso - about 1.25-1.5 lbs. Very good flavour.
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