Planting potatoes for Christmas is something I’ve always wanted to try and do. I’ve been fortunate enough to plant International Kidney, but not entirely out of design.
Don’t you just love those mistakes that wind up being a blessing in disguise? Back in April I had a bit of a potato splurge and I ended up with one too many main crop potatoes. I had purchased International Kidney potatoes and for one reason or another I didn’t end up planting them… they stayed in the cold frame chitting away and not given a second thought.
Well, as you may have read – I’m in the process of changing the layout of the plot so that I’ve got more growing space and one of the things I like to do with a new bed is to grow potatoes in it. Potatoes are great for cleaning the ground as the mounding and digging you do to the ground really does it give it a good once over.
I knew in the back of my mind that I’d had these potatoes chitting away and I thought, perfect – nothing lost, nothing gained – stick them into the ground and hope for the best.
Then I found myself on the computer, looking up a brief history of International Kidney potatoes and what do my wondering eyes discover? International Kidney potatoes are in fact of the same variety grown in Jersey, making them the Jersey Royal! I’ve always wanted to grow this particular variety, but I always thought that Jersey Royals were exclusive to Jersey – which is true because they’re covered by a Protected designation of origin (PDO).
I guess when I give some to family and friends I’ll have to tell them that they’re “International Kidney potatoes, ***Cough*** JERSEY ROYALS!***Cough*** “
History of International Kidney potaotes
Gather round… In 1878, potato farmer Hugh de la Haye discovered a new variety of spud, it was the shape of a kidney and had numerous eyes to which he and his fellow potato farmers then cut into pieces, and planted into the a steeply sloping fields above the Bellozanne valley in Jersey.
The crop result was a bunch of potatoes with paper like skin, dug up in the early spring. They nurtured and developed into potatoes that we see in our supermarkets the country over. In the end, they were given the name Jersey Royal Fluke, which was shortened to ‘Jersey Royal’.
Hugh de la Haye was honoured for his efforts by his fellow Jersey islanders at a formal gathering and presented with purse of gold sovereigns.
Check out www.jerseyroyals.co.uk for some really interesting reading on the potato that brings a smile to hundreds of thousands of people every year.
Planting potatoes for Christmas
The tubers had shrivelled significantly, and they weren’t as attractive as when I first purchased them – that said this didn’t deter me much because I was glad to see that the shoots were well and truly established.
I’d already prepared a bed and I decided to take a cue from a fellow allotment holder which is to plant the potatoes in trenches, and then as they grow, slowly mound the shoots from the soil dug out sooner.
I was also keen to give allow plenty of space between tubers. I’d recently discovered from my last foray with potatoes that spacing and decent access to water really does determine your yield. In the end I was able to prepare three decent sized trenches.
The aim here is to get some lovely potatoes for Christmas, however – I think if I’m honest, I think I’ll be happy with these no matter what time I end up digging these up – but in the meantime let’s hope that Planting potatoes for Christmas plan works out none the less.