In Pursuit Of The Perfect Spud

I used to like growing potatoes.

Eating them freshly dug and lightly steamed was the best bit of all. But down here in Devon it just hasn’t seemed to work. First it was the rain. 2012: the year of the waterlogged Olympics and soggy Jubilee. My potatoes struck down with blight. One day the foliage was bright, healthy and green. The next it had collapsed into a slimy brown heap on the soil.

The following year, undefeated, I tried again. Shelling out extra dosh for blight resistant tubers, I reckoned I had it licked. So did it rain? No. And with the veggie beds well above the water table this time the mice moved in.

 
 

Potato 002 Wm

 

..along with whatever else it is that cracks and dries the skin.

 

But I am nothing if not persistent. 20 ‘Pink Fir Apple’ main crop tubers are in the post and this time, suitably chitted, they are going into potato growing bags. In theory I will be able to move them somewhere more sheltered if we get an abundance of rain and hopefully protect them against the mice more effectively too. No more sneaking up on my potatoes from tunnels under the cover of soil. No, this time those pesky rodents will have to emerge from their safe haven and attack from above the ground. To make it all a little more sporting they’ll be greeted with a barrage of traps. Peanut butter loaded traps. Michelin starred dining for a mouse.

 
 

Potato bags 001 Wm

 

If it all goes to plan next year I will plant my early varieties in potato bags too. In the meantime ‘Lady Christl’ and ‘Charlotte’ are going in the ground. But before the mice draw up plans for tunnelling operations they had better pause for thought. I discovered recently there is something they just can’t stand. So along with my seed potatoes I have purchased two garlic bulbs.

One clove per tuber, planted in alternating rows.

Will my early potatoes taste of garlic now, or might it actually work?