Who would have thought that January was such a beautiful month. The
winter rains usually last well into February and the soil stays
saturated until March – but not this year. I was happy gardening in the
last few weeks without getting stuck in the mud. We were mulching the
hedges with semi-decomposed woody shredding which we got from a local
tree surgeon. This is such good value. It cost €100 for a massive
trailer load – delivery included.
In Glor na Mara community gardens/allotments in Bundoran we reclaimed
another wild area where people dumped all sorts of garden waste and
stones etc. We spread some shreddings over it all to get it reasonably
level and then covered with black plastic (bits that were ripped)
doubled up and then a 4 inch layer of woody shreddings on top of the
Then I took hardwood cuttings from blackcurrants and josta
berry and stuck them through the plastic. Even if it was very late for
hardwood cuttings (November is the ideal time) I have no doubt that at
least some will take root. That was so satisfying!
Seed potatoes now in stock
This year we have some amazing and unique varieties available. They are
all of excellent quality and the tubers are certified disease free.
Plant in tunnel in February and harvest in late May/June
Plant outdoors in mid March and harvest July
Spacing: 20cm in drill (drills widely spaced so you can earth up) Second earlies:
Plant outdoors in late March/mid April and harvest late July to September
Spacing: 30cm in drill (drills widely spaced so you can earth up) Maincrop:
Plant outdoors in mid April and harvest late September to October
Spacing: 30cm in drill (drills widely spaced so you can earth up)
There are about 10-12 seed potatoes in a kilo.
With a spacing of 1 ft (30cm), you’ll get a 10-12ft (3.5 -4m) long drill per kilo.
With a spacing of 20cm, you’ll get 2.5m long drill per kilo.
International Kidney – also known as Jersey Royal (First Early)
Jersey Royal certainly sounds a lot better than International Kidney,
but only potato growers from Jersey can call them with the real name.
This potato originated in Jersey around 1880. A local farmer, Hugh de
la Haye, spotted one large kidney shaped potato. Apparently it had 15
eyes and he cut out each eye and planted these. This was the beginning
of the Jersey Royals.
The EU protects this variety and it was given protection of designation
of origin (PDO), just like champagne that can only come from the
Chefs rave about this early potato variety which has an amazing buttery,
sweet and distinctive taste. Jersey Royals are at their best boiled
with their skins on.
You can grow them like any early potato and plant the seed potatoes
around mid March. Potatoes can be harvested from June onwards. If left
in the ground a bit longer they can be used as a maincrop potatoes and
can be used for roasting, chips or wedges.
“It'd be a waste not to indulge in Jersey Royals as often as you can.
Their distinctive sweet and summery flavour turns a mediocre dish into
something much more memorable. “
I recently gave some oca tubers to a good friend and wonderful chef –
Bernadette O’Shea. As you can read below she was most impressed about
this old/new crop and gave me some culinary suggestions.
Don’t forget –
the potato was once a new crop in Ireland and it came from the same
area as the oca. I really think that within a few years you’ll find oca
tubers for sale in shops.
This year I’m planning to go on a vegetable trip to South America – to
discover more of the Lost Crops of the Incas. I have obviously been
inspired by Joy Larkcom who travelled throughout Europe and Asia to
discover the most amazing crops which we all have available now in
Bernadette O’Shea’s Oca Recipes
“So loved the Oca you gave me. I'd love to see this vegetable widely
available on menus. Even the "ridgey", fingerling look of them. Reminds
me of both Jerusalem artichoke and the tiny Chinese artichoke. Easy to
prepare - a good scrub but no peeling. I steamed, boiled, roasted and
prepared raw and half cooked.