Wednesday, November 2, 2011

GM potatoes heading to a store near you

Plans are afoot for Stroud Potato Day 2012. However the Potato Day team were disturbed to see The Independent article regarding GM potatoes. They could be on sale within 4 years in the UK. See Independent here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Videos on how to look after your potatoes

Summer Street Allotments Association in Stroud have a wonderful 'Digging with Dickie' section with great advice - they will be open this weekend as part of the Edible Open Gardens - see previous blog entry. Well there is also a link on the allotment site to the wonderful Claire's Allotment videos....a fantastic series of allotment video guides on specific subjects. The main page of the channel is here but the links re potatoes are below:

Potatoes - Claire's Allotment part 10
Earthing up your potatoes - Claire's Allotment part 26
Dig up your potatoes! Claire's Allotment part 47
Dig up your spuds! Claire's Allotment part 56
Chitty chitty 'tatoes - Claire's Allotment part 60
Sweet potatoes Claire's allotment part 78
Sweet potatoes (part 2) - Claire's Allotment part 80
Dig my sweet potatoes - Claire's allotment part 89
Comparing Sweet Potatoes - Claire's Allotment Part 124

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Edible Open Gardens in Stroud this weekend

Here is a video of the Edible Open Gardens launch in Stroud on the weekend that I have put together to advertise the weekend of 37 open edible gardens, guided walks and workshops on 9th/10th July 2011. It is all about growing more food locally - and many of the gardens feature potatoes bought at our potato day!! In this video we hear about the event and from local food organisations. See details about the weekend at:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Next year Potato Day plans

This year we raised over £760 from potato sales and our recipe book. We are now planning next year. I had a meeting with the Down to Earth Cooperative about a partnership to help celebrate Stroud Potato Day. Our provisional date is Saturday 4th February and things are looking good....

So who are Down to Earth?

Well the Co-operative was set up in late 2009, to support households in the Stroud area wanting to grow organic vegetables and fruit in their own gardens. The group provides a range of services from 1:1 training and/or advice (planning, trouble shooting etc), running gardening courses, preparation of growing areas including installing raised beds or removing turf or recovering overgrown areas, through to planting and sowing, weeding and feeding, protection from pests, harvesting and holiday cover. In addition to these services, Down to Earth has a 'Growing Communities Project', the aim of which is to take volunteers through nationally accredited training in growing food organically, and then supporting them in encouraging others to start growing.

They hope to start a new project later on this year, called 'The Fruit and Nut Tree Guardianship Scheme'.  Other plans in the pipeline include crop share schemes, which they are currently researching to find the most suitable option for those with spare growing areas.  If anyone would like to find out more about the co-operative, go to, email info(at), or call 01453 700011.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

GM: Sooner or Tater!

That was the headline from SchNEWS in their article about resistance to genetically engineered potatoes in this country. Amazingly Caroline Spelman has said they plan to be 'the most Pro-GM government yet'. Anyway here is their article:

On Sunday 30th May 400 anti-GM activists broke though police lines to decontaminate a field of genetically engineered potatoes in Wetterem, Belgium. The protest had been pre-announced by the group 'Field Liberation Movement', and 50 riot cops were surrounding the fenced off field ready and waiting. Despite this, 15 activists made it over the barbed wire using strips of carpet and uprooted a number of crops before being arrested.

Currently, commercial growing of genetically modified crops is banned in the UK, but that's set to change. Even though Genetic Modification has so far proved completely unsuccessful at increasing crop yields, the minister for Food and Environment Caroline Spelman announced that the coalition is committed to being 'the most Pro-GM government yet'. This is hardly surprising considering she was co-founder and director of  Spelman, Cormack and Associates - one of the lobbying companies that have spent the last ten years convincing us that we need GM food to solve the food crisis. Although she resigned as a company director before taking office, the firm remains in the hands of her husband, Mark Spelman.

There are two ongoing GM potato trials in the UK - one at Bramham, Tadcaster conducted by Leeds University and another at John Innes Centre, Norwich conducted by the The Sainsbury Laboratory. So, if you fancy picking some taters for yourself, you know where to go.

* For more info see

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We raised £763.20!

£315.00 raised from Potato sales on the 2011 Stroud Potato Day - plus £37.40 - book sales profit on the day. Plus book sales made at the two key sites; £60.80 - SVP Eco Shop and £350.00 - Stroud Bookshops. Total: £763.20. All this will be invested in low carbon projects for Stroud. Once again a big thank you.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stroud's Edible Open Gardens weekend 9th and 10th July

Following on the success of our Potato Day we now have a related event. Read on for more info....

Over 20 edible gardens and allotments have signed up to open to the public in July to encourage people to grow and learn more about food. There will be vegetables, fruit, herb and kitchen gardens, chicken keepers, pigs and more in various communities including Stroud, Whiteshill, Stonehouse, Bisley and Horsley. The gardeners will be available to share their knowledge and passion for growing.

Transition Stroud are still seeking a few more gardens for the project. If anyone is interested in offering their garden for part of the weekend in July please contact Helen Royall on 01453 755509.

Philip Booth, an organiser of the event and Transition Stroud member said: "We are delighted to have confirmed this week initial funding from the Cooperative Community Fund and Cainscross Parish Council to help publicise and organise this event. This is a chance to celebrate some of our wonderfully productive gardens and local food growing projects in the Stroud Valleys. We want to see if we can reach lots of people who have never grown veg before."

Food prices set to rise
Philip Booth added: "Local food accounts for only 1.5% of national food consumption. Our food system is staggeringly inefficient and heavily dependent upon oil, at a time when the production of energy from fossil fuels is on the decline. Our dependence on imports is damaging for national food security, harmful to the environment and is simply unsustainable. The UN report that food prices have hit a record high and are forecast to continue climbing this year. Shoppers have already been hit with jumps in the price of many key food items and with the impact of the economy it has never been a better time to grow your own food. With this Edible Open Gardens project we hope to all learn, but also inspire more local food production at a lower environmental cost than the supermarkets."

Gardens still wanted

The project so far has a grant from  to help organise and publicise the project. Transition Stroud is a group working on the transition to a locally based low carbon lifestyle. More info at:

Potato Day update

Well over 500 views of our short film of the day and £315 profit raised from the seed potato sales and money still coming in from the Potato Day recipe books. Once again a big thank you to all who helped make it such a fun day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stroud Potato Recipe book by mail

Stroud Potato Day, a Transition Stroud event announces that the popular book, "Pan-fried, Peeled and Proud Potatoes from Stroud. A Recipe Book" will now be available by post. The book has some 40 recipes from local people and restaurants including Guardian food write Mathew Fort. Plus nutritional advice re potatoes and folklore - did you know keeping ginger with potatoes helps keep both fresh!

Photos: more of Stroud Potato Day and the window at the Town Council

The SVP shop have agreed to have their details as the contact info on the website for people who need copies of the potato book sent to them. Their details are:

Stroud Valleys Project
8 Threadneedle Street

Tel. 01453 753358
Fax: 01453 755641

The book is selling for £4 (or £3 Stroud pounds). The prices for Post and Packing in the UK will be:

1 copy = £1.00
2 copies = £1.50
3-5 copies = £2.00

Philip Booth, organiser of the Stroud Potato celebrations said: "On Saturday 5th February we sold over 4,700 seed potatoes in our first Potato Day, many to first time growers. This recipe book is part of our celebration of the many different varieties of potato and encouraging people to grow their own. Supermarkets don't offer much choice of potatoes, but growing your own opens up all sorts of opportunities. The recipe book has been hugely popular and we are looking at the possibilities of a third print run. We have now launched a service for those wanting a copy by post. Please see above for details."

Monday, February 14, 2011

More on our Potato Day

Well our Potato Day film has nearly made 400 views already. Also all the seed potatoes have now gone - infact could have had many more! Stroud Valleys Project have a few for their schools project and the Community Supported Agriculture project have a few for sale....

Photos: Dundry and the SNJ news article

Scroll down for more about the event - the final amount raised is still not confirmed but hopefully with recipe books sold on the day we might be around £500 profit.

We are also looking at what to get for next year - I visited Dundry Nurseries to return stuff we had borrowed and was getting ideas for next year - are we really going to do another??? Anyway Dundry is an inspiration - what a great place with all it's projects with people with learning disabilities and improvements to the area.

Clare kept a record on the morning of our Potato Day to see which potatoes sold out first:
  • 25kg bag of International Kidney by 11.15am
  • 25kg bag ofCharlotte by 11.50am
  • 25kg bags of Arran Pilot and Rocket by 12.10
  • 25kg bags of Pentland Javelin and Sarpo Axona by 1.30
In terms of requests - most popular was for Pink Fir Apple and more Organic varieties. I would also like to see more Heritage varieties. In fact couldn't resist Salad Blue - yes it really does make blue mash! I suspect this will be for Halloween!

Anyway this last pic is of the SNJ who came along to photograph the event.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stroud Potato Day film

The film-maker who was due to film on the day sadly had to cancel at the last minute, so I ended up trying to film at the same time as organise the day - it is at least a taster of the day. Click on the 'youtube' to open in Youtube.

Special thank yous that got missed off the video (due to me still learning how to use the programme) go to Merrywalks Shopping Centre for the use of the space, the Potato Council for leaflets and balloons and Stroud Valleys Project, Stroud Bookshop and Stroud Town Council for selling the Recipe book.

Thank you to all who have made comments already on the film. Here's one just in from a Transition group in another town: "What a great event and a lovely film of the day - not too long and thankfully upbeat for a change. Forwarding it to our Food group as inspiration."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Potato Day success!!! A few still for sale

Wow what a success!! The aim wasn't specifically to raise money but rather awareness of Transition Stroud and growing your own. Well we have sold over 4,600 potatoes - which easily covers expenses of leaflets and posters, table hire, seed pots etc. and we hope to have well over £200 profit plus lots more from the sales of the great Recipe book. Final figure will depend on last potato sales and any last expenses.

It was a very busy day. In fact most of the time we seemed to need 8 Transition volunteers just to keep up with the steady flow of customers. One volunteer, Paul, even managed to sell one seed potato each to a group of teenagers, quite a large number of our customers were first time buyers, many people wanting basic advice on how to grow and quite a large number just buying enough potatoes for a couple of pots. We also had a few allotment holders and several people wanting 40 plus tubers. People still raving about the Potato Recipe book and several comments about the leaflets we handed out.


Please phone 755451 if you are interested in the last lot of potatoes. I will be around only Monday afternoon/evening if people are interested. We have the following available:

Less than half a sack left of:

Catrionna, Kestrel, Vivaldi, Wilja ....second earlies.

King Edward, Maris Piper, Romano (bigger sack) .........Main

Plus smaller amount of:

Pentland, Javelin....first early.

Cara, Mozart,.........Main

Friday, February 4, 2011

Exercise for over 50s

I've just had a birthday and was sent this below - don't forget tomorrow is the big day!


Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.

With a 5-lb potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.

Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato bags.

Then try 50-lb potato bags and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level.)

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

Potatoes for tomorrow

The potato consignment will be as follows:

Photo: Stroud Town Council window

First earlies: Arran Pilot, Foremost, Home Guard, International Kidney, Pentland Javelin, Rocket

Second earlies: Catrionna, Charlotte, Kestrel, Marfona,Vivaldi, Wilja

Main: Cara, Desiree, Juliette, King Edward,Maris Piper, Mozart, Romano and Sarpo Axona

Friday, January 14, 2011

Another press release

Here is the news release about this years event...

Saturday 5th February 2011 is the date for your diary. We will be in the middle of Merrywalks Shopping Centre from about 9.00am to 2.30pm selling over half a tonne of seed potatoes - over 20 varieties supplied by Dundry Nurseries (see link below in right hand column).


GROW POTATOES: Come and buy seed potatoes at our stall in the Merrywalks Shopping Centre.
COOK POTATOES: Over Farm and Newark farm in the Farmers Market have interesting varieties to buy to cook yourself.
READ POTATOES: Our  Potato Recipe Book 'Pan-Fried, Peeled and Proud - Potatoes from Stroud', is in it's second print and will be available for sale at the stall for £4 (£3 stroud pounds).
EAT POTATOES: Participating restaurants on the day include Woodruffs, Star Anise, J Rools and Mills who will all be celebrating with a particular potato recipe to try.

Philip Booth, organiser of the Stroud Potato celebrations said: "Grow, Cook, Read and Eat potatoes. Stroud Potato Day is a celebration of all things potato but the big hope is that folk who have never grown veg at all will give a spud a go and those that have will try some different varieties. We have half a tonne of seed potatoes that we will be selling from a stall in Merrywalks cheaper than many other outlets."

Stroud Potato Day is a Transition Stroud project with all proceeds going to low carbon projects in Stroud. Many volunteers are making the day possible including some adults with a learning disability from a local day service, Randwick Village Hall for tables and Dundry Nurseries for supplying the seed potatoes to make the day possible. See more on this blogsite. See background to day here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Press release goes out re the big day! Restaurant and market join celebrations

Here's our press release that went out earlier this week....

Transition Stroud members are organising the first ever National Potato Day in Stroud on Saturday 5th February 2011 (i).

Philip Booth, organiser of the Stroud Potato celebrations said: "We will be selling half a tonne of seed potatoes from a stall in Merrywalks to encourage more people to grow their own and learn about the many different varieties of potatoes. There is also an issue of food security that we will be hearing more about as oil prices climb and harvests suffer from the changing climate. 40% of the food we eat is imported: if more people grow their own then we can be less reliant on food imports from other countries."

Philip Booth said: "There are over 450 potato varieties grown in this country with supermarkets offering very little choice. In addition to our stall in Merrywalks on 5th Feb in Stroud Market both Newark and Over Farm will have some different varieties to try (ii) and Woodruffs, J Rools and Mills will all be celebrating the day with a particular potato recipe to try. Our Potato recipe book 'Pan-Fried, Peeled and Proud - Potatoes from Stroud', was launched before Christmas. The book is selling so well that it is now in it's second print and can be bought at the local bookshop, SVP, the Town Council, Made in Stroud, and will be available for sale at the stall for £4 (£3 stroud pounds) (iii)."

Philip Booth added: "It has been wonderful that so many people have given time and energy to make this day happen, especially Dundry Nurseries for their support in supplying the seed potatoes (iv). "

Stroud Potato Day has a website with details of the event and more at:


(i) Transition Stroud that seeks ways to respond to the twin challenges of Climate Change and oil becoming increasingly difficult to extract. To find out more about Transition Stroud go to:

(ii) Over Farm will have; Wilja, Nadine and Desiree, Newark farm has Cara, Desiree, Javelin, Belle de Fonteney, and Ratte Charlotte.

(iii) The book is a Transition Stroud initiative and is edited by the aptly named Maris Piper and Desirée de Romano. Desirée said: "Bringing the different elements of the book together has been a joy. Stroud provided suitably gifted people just when they were needed; Dennis Gould stepped forward to do the cover, photographer Fred Chance heroically offered to do the design and layout, poet and artist Jeff Cloves (AKA Edward Rex) was inspired to write a Potato Pie Poem and to create the beautiful illustrations that bring the book to life. The recipes have all come from local people, some professional cooks and some who are experts at creating delicious meals for their friends and family. Woodruffs, J Rool, Mill's Cafe and Guisseppe of Guisseppe's gourmet restaurant all shared their own favourite potato recipes. We even have a recipe from Matthew Fort, food writer in the Guardian and potato fan. It really has been a collaborative effort that has shown the generosity and enthusiasm of the people of the Stroud Valleys. Thanks go to all of them as well as to Stroud Valleys Eco Shop on Threadneedle Street and Stroud Book Shop for selling the book on behalf of Transition Stroud."

(iv) Cheltenham will also be celebrating Potato Day at Dundry Nurseries on 22nd and 23rd January 2011.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Potatoes for New Year eating!

Well this last week I dug up the last of the potatoes on my allotment - can't quite believe how wonderful they look and taste!

Potatoes 'For Christmas eating' is not a new thing and I was doubtful if it was possible here in Stroud - indeed several other folk on the allotment said we were wasting our time. Well we got a large bucket load of beauties - see photos from a small number of plants.

Potato plants produce good sized tubers in 65 to 100 days depending on variety. So it is a bit about what you choose. Some seed catalogues have seed potatoes specially held back for August planting.

Frost damage is the first concern in the early stages. If shoots emerge above the soil level and frost threatens, draw a little soil from the bed edges over them. I also used a fleece as frost threatened.

We planted the seed pots in the first days of September! We also had prepared the soil well with garden compost and rotted manure. Potatoes are hungry plants - but lay off too much Nitrogen (eg coffee grounds). Potato plants that receive too much nitrogen will have thick stalks and healthy green leaves, but will produce small potatoes. I think we had a bit too much as pots were small but then growing season wasn't so long....

After the potatoes plants have grown to about 20cm / 8in pull up the soil in between the rows around the plants leaving a few centimetres still showing. Repeat the exercise in two to three weeks time. In fact I was able to build up a good lot of soil around the plant which I am sure helped protect from frost.

As always during the growing season, ensure that weeds are removed. A month or so after planting, the dense foliage of the plant should then block out sufficient light to deter all but the most vigorous weeds.

As the potato plant grows, do not remove or 'stop' the foliage, it is supplying food to the tubers. However, remove any flower heads or buds which appear because these will produce potato seeds which will divert energy from the potato tubers.

Anyway we had the first lot steamed with butter.....of course with the Stroud Potato Recipe book we now have many choices for our remaining potatoes.