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Explaining seed potatoes

Explaining seed potatoes

Growing your own potatoes is very rewarding and great fun for all the family to harvest before cooking and eating them. By choosing the right varieties, you can harvest potatoes from early summer well into autumn.
Here's a little bit of background to seed potatoes and the things you should consider to get the varieties that are right for you and your family.

Seed potatoes are tubers

Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes, which are tubers from the previous year's harvest. Many of us will be aware of the devastation caused historically by potato famines when this important staple food crop failed and huge numbers of people starved to death.  Governments then brought in strict legislation to ensure that seed potatoes could be relied upon to produce this essential staple food.  As a consequence, Scottish Certified seed potatoes are some of the best quality in the world. 

Certified seed potatoes are guaranteed to be true to variety, free from disease and will produce the best possible crop for the variety. At Merryhatton, we offer locally produced seed potatoes that we know crop reliably in East Lothian and offer customers a choice of flavour, cooking and storage qualities.

Seed potatoes are generally planted out in March/April and are divided into 3 groups; First earlies, Second earlies and Maincrop depending on when they are harvested. 

First early potatoes

First earlies are those lovely 'new potatoes' that are so enjoyed in early summer.  Because they have the shortest growing time, they're ideal for growing in containers.  Best eaten once harvested as they don't store well.

Popular first early potatoes:

  • 'Rocket' - one of the earliest cropping varieties which can be cropped from late June onwards
  • 'Epicure' - our most popular first early, this potato is often known as the 'Ayrshire'
  • 'Pentland Javelin' – one of the Pentland series developed in the Lothians.  With good crops of long oval tubers with white flesh its a good show potato. Ideal for boiling and salad use.

Second early potatoes

Second early potatoes are harvested around August / September.  Usually good salad potatoes, they tend to have waxy flesh that stays firm after cooking. Some can also be used for baking, roasting or frying.  Second earlies store better than first earlies, but are best eaten before Christmas

Popular second early potatoes:

  • 'Charlotte' – long tubers with firm, creamy yellow flesh and excellent flavour.  Excellent salad potato and when cooking doesn't 'boil away'
  • 'Estima' - high yields producing a good number of baking potatoes.  Great for boiling and baking. 
  • 'Kestrel' - good colour and a dry texture.  Ideal show potato

Maincrop potatoes

Maincrop potatoes take longer to mature than first and second earlies and are usually bigger. Generally harvested in September and October (hence why October school holidays are sometimes called the 'Potato holiday').  They have a wide range of uses in the kitchen, including baking, roasting and frying and store well for several months.

Popular maincrop potatoes:

  • 'Maris Piper' – one of the best-known varieties with a dry, floury texture. Produces well-shaped tubers that are good all-rounders that can be used for mashing, baking and chipping.
  • 'Desiree' – red-skinned tubers with creamy white flesh. A remarkably drought-resistant variety that's well suited to mashing.
  • 'Pink Fir Apple' – Firm flesh with a nutty flavour.  An excellent salad potato that's also very good for boiling.

If you fancy growing your own potatoes this year, why not pop in to Merryhatton and browse our varieties - our experienced and knowledgeable staff will be delighted to help with any questions you may have!
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