Gardening Magazine

Hampshire Potato Day

By Mwillis
Yesterday I went to the Hampshire Potato Day at Whitchurch, to get my seed potatoes. Since attending the similar event last year I have become a convert to this method of buying potatoes. It is so much better than buying by mail-order: much cheaper and much more flexible.
Hampshire Potato Day
The event takes place in a school hall, over a 2-day period. The potatoes (provided by Richard Stevenson of Charlton Park Garden Centre at Wantage) are laid out in big plastic crates so that you can inspect them easily, and everything is clearly labelled and fully described. You can buy individual tubers of any variety at 17p each, or £1.50 for 10. Alternatively you can buy a net of 2.5kgs for £3 to £4, depending on the variety.  This arrangement means that it is easy to try some new ones without committing yourself to buying a lot of the same type. However I think it is unreasonable to judge a potato on the results of growing just one tuber, so I usually get at least 4 of each.
Small clear plastic bags are provided (free of charge) for your purchases, as well as self-adhesive labels and pencils to identify what you have bought.
Hampshire Potato Day
My photos today are a bit poor I'm afraid, because I took them with my phone, whilst holding a heavy basket and being jostled by lots of other impatient potato-enthusiasts! I haven't yet mastered the art of holding the phone steady enough to get a photo that is in-focus and not blurry.
Hampshire Potato Day
Hampshire Potato Day
There are lots of things other than potatoes on sale too, such as beans, peas, onions, shallots, garlic etc.
Hampshire Potato Day
The system for the peas and beans is interesting, if a little unsophisticated. They are sold by the half-pint, which you measure with a suitable glass! For £2 you get at least 150 Runner Bean seeds, which represents excellent value for money. And no carriage charges either!
Hampshire Potato Day
At one end of the hall are several retail stalls (sorry, no photo), selling all sort of gardening-related produce, such as fresh vegetables, potted plants, seeds, books and handicrafts. A café is provided in an upstairs room. Jane sat there and had a cup of tea and read a book while I browsed the spuds!
Well, here is my loot:
Hampshire Potato Day
The varieties I bought are:-
First Early
Sharpe's Express
Vale's Emerald
Second Early
Pink Fir Apple
Plus also Runner Bean "Enorma" and Broad Bean "Masterpiece Green Longpod"
Hampshire Potato Day
I bought 50 potato tubers in total, but some of these will be going to my daughter Emma, who lives nearby. Due to space limitations, I always grow my potatoes in containers, so I don't need very many.
Hampshire Potato Day
My seed potatoes are now out in the garage, next to the window, (a cool, light but frost-free place), starting the "chitting" process [forming shoots]. They won't be planted for another couple of months.
If you would like to read my opinions of the potato varieties I grew last year, please follow this link to my 2014 end-of-season review.
I wrote last year about my discovery of the Potato Day concept, and you can read about it HERE if you want to.

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