No, I’m not talking about the celebrities in this week’s OK! magazine, I’m talking about potatoes. Featured in the March issue of The Garden, these horticultural lovelies have all been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Each cultivar was judged on tuber quality, eye depth, skin colour and flesh colour, yield and taste.

So which cultivars have you chosen to grow this year? Will it be the ladies in red, Mimi and Cherie? Or the pale but interesting Annabel or Orla? We have gone for Swift, Ratte and Kestrel (bit of wildlife theme going on here!). According to Horticulture Week, seed potatoes are enjoying a 20% increase in sales this year due to the "grow your own" trend, with many varieties already sold out.

Some good advice on potato planting from Colin Randel, author of The Garden article and chair of the RHS Vegetable Trials Sub-Committee "if your hand feel cold when pushed in to the ground, it is too cold to plant; wait until the soil warms". I should have read this before the potatoes went in a few weeks ago, well it was March (!) – no wonder there were a few raised eyebrows from fellow allotment owners!

As well as writing this ‘Potato Diary’ I’m hoping to keep you updated on events taking place during International Year of the Potato (IYP) (see my previous blog entry ‘Year of the Ratte’). Keen photographers amongst you might be interested in the IYP Photography Contest. Launched by the FAO and UN, the contest will "focus on a global food" [the potato] and invites photographers to capture the spirit of the International Year in images that illustrate potato biodiversity, cultivation, processing, trade, marketing, consumption and utilization. With separate categories for professional and amateur photographers, the contest will accept single digital images or “photo stories” of four to eight related images, in either black-and-white or colour. More information…

To chit or not to chit

RHS Award of Garden Merit Vegetables 2007

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