Saturday saw me setting off, after the opening of the Village Hall loo, for Potato Day in Malmesbury Town Hall. We apparently consume an average of 500 potatoes each year but most of us end up with just a handful of varieties grown for the supermarkets. Well in Malmesbury they had some 55 varieties for sale and more to look at including one, the Mairsland Queen, at £25 each tuber (see below)!
Photos: Malmesbury Potato Day
Potatoes are the world's fourth largest food crop following rice, wheat and maize. Peru is the birth place of the tatty but 99% of tatties trace their heritage back to Chile. They came to Europe in 1536 - then in 1846 blight hit - and the horrors of the Great Irish Famine. Apparently there are some 4,000 varieties (see here). See more about the potato at Wikipedia here.
I loved learning more about potatoes at the event - talking to the handful of experts and others browsing the rows of buckets there - Dave of Green Seeds who organised the event, recommended various potatoes - Lady Cristal and Kestral were a couple I picked - and I learnt that early varieties tend to crop before blight comes along while varieties such as Verity and Sante are resistant to blight.
Dave Chappell, a potato expert from Wales, dubbed 'Taffy Tattie' (see below) was also there with a collection of tubers that he had grown and offers to do talks locally if folk wanted. He had some wonderful old photos of himself with all the gardening greats from Percy Thrower to Geoff Hamilton.
There was also a cafe with cakes and more.
Other Potato Days
Garden Organic's National Potato Day is Sunday 31st January this year - see more here including a video celebrating the potato and looking at potato day at Ryton Organic Gardens in 2008. It started 17 years ago in 1994 however Hampshire is perhaps best known for Potato Day and their 12th Potato Day with over 150 varieties is all of next weekend: www.potatoday.org/
Other Potato Day's can be found at: www.potatoday.org/potatodays.htm. Dundry Nurseries are the only place in Gloucestershire that do a Potato weekend - near Cheltenham and Junction 11 on M5 - but that was also this weekend so you've missed it this year!
The Potato Council even produce packs for schools to get involved with recipes - see here. They also have recipes on their site at: www.lovepotatoes.co.uk/
Stroud Potato Day
My thoughts are that it is time we did something here in Stroud to celebrate the great diversity of tatties and encourage more of us to grow them. We already have Apple Day celebrated locally (See display left at Farmers Market last year) - indeed we've also been out juicing in a local orchard - see here.
Anyhow I have already started to make contacts with the Farmers Market to see what sort of event could be planned. Green seeds would be very happy to bring their display. Any thoughts, ideas and help would be greatly received!!
Grow more potatoes
What’s good about the tatty is that they can be grown in all sorts of spaces - allotment plot, veg patch or simple patio pot. They seem a great way to help folk grow more of their own veg?
Anyway I came across this site here which has several pages on how to grow potatoes. I am looking forward to growing my collection of varieties....