Friday, November 9, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gardeners deny spreading potato blight

I just got this tweet forwarded from Monty Don; 'Potato council blaming gardeners for spread of potato blight. Fight this crap and resolve to grow your own next year.' It is true that the Potato Council has accused amateur gardeners of spreading potato blight – leading to poor harvests and price rises.

Chairman of the Potato Council, Allan Stevenson told The Grocer magazine: “People should be encouraged to grow their own veg to learn about the origins of their food, but blight risk is real and it would be preferable if people bought healthy, well-produced potatoes from a retailer, rather than grow-their-own.”

While a spokesman for the Royal Horticultural Society’s science department described the Potato Council’s comments as “unhelpful” and “not true”. He said: “The high price of spuds and low yields is due to late planting in May/June instead of April, low light levels in June, flood damage, high levels of blackleg due to wet weather on seed crops last year and late lifting due to the difficulty of getting machinery onto wet soil, leading to low quality tubers which have a limited storage potential.
“It is true that more blight has been reported from allotments but this, we would suggest, is because many allotmenteers have become registered blight scouts for the British Potato Council and more eyes mean more reports. It should be noted there are few allotments near big commercial producers.”

Indeed so carry on growing your own rather than those sprayed every week with fungicide.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Support a potato: Non-GM, blight-resistant potatoes that don’t need constant spraying

Sarvari Research Trust breeds non-GM, blight-resistant potatoes that don’t need constant spraying. These are known as Sarpo varieties. They have a promising new seedling (let’s call it Crow, short for Crowdfunded for now) to extend their Sarpo range. They need to test Crow’s performance against standard varieties in the field/garden and in the kitchen. Then they can send seed of Crow for government testing (very expensive) over two growing seasons. If the regulators agree that Crow would make a useful new variety, they will award it National List status. Then the variety can make a big contribution to really sustainable food production in UK and abroad. They need £5000 to help do this.

They can’t get grant funding for this kind of work because is thought to be near market research and therefore a private matter. Breeders of GM resistant potatoes do get grant support! So, if you join them by donating funds, time or skills, it can make all the difference. As a backer, you can participate in their research by testing Crow and sending us your results.
See how to support this project here.

Get the date in your diary: Stroud Potato Day 2nd February 2013

Yes the date is confirmed and planning is already in progress; let us know if you think you can help on the day.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Greek 'Potato Revolution' Spreads - economic hardship relocalises food supply

I spotted this Permaculture Magazine article here that highlighted how austerity measures have led to what is being called the Greek 'Potato Revolution'. As the Permaculture article says, "incomes fall and retail prices rise, Greeks are cutting out the middle man, paying up to three times less than they usually would for potatoes and buying them straight from the farmers themselves. Is this a precursor of transition culture and does it point towards people adopting, as we would say in permaculture, more beneficial relationships?" This report from France's Observers network makes for exciting reading.
Read the full article and comments here:

Friday, March 9, 2012

The People's Potato Book

The PeopleIn this new book Alan Wilson explores the beauty and diversity of over 400 potato varieties with the aim to get us all to grow eat and understand this much loved vegetable. Issues of concern to organic gardeners such as the biology of the potato, pest diseases as well as many topical subjects affecting the potato are all covered. The Alan Wilson top 100 potato varieties dominates the book but as Alan clearly says any review of new cultivars is only the start. What is your top 100? From King Edward to Sunrise and back in time to Pink Fir Apple and the coloured flesh varieties they are all here. The People's Potatoes, Alan Wilson Special chapter by Dr Simon Bowen Paintings by Caroline Bletsis

£20 rrp - order from Stroud Bookshop.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Growing Potatoes

Well you got your tatties at Stroud Potato Day now what do you do with them? Well Garden Organic have a fact sheet on Growing Potatoes - see it here and here for pests and diseases.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stroud Potato Day success

What a great day today - so many volunteers pulling together to sell so many seed potatoes - the tables were busy most of the day with many people buying seed potatoes for the first time plus those who are experienced growers trying new seed and old.

First to sell out were the organic Sarpo potatoes - Alys Fowler had recommended them in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago - see article here - they have been bred for 40 years in Hungary and are pretty blight resistant - I will be trying a couple of them this year and was telling other folk about them while on the stall in Merrywalks.....otehr bags also went down rapidly and I hope to have the figures of our top selling varieties soon!

As always huge thanks to Chris Evans from the wonderful Dundry Nurseries - the home of the potato near Cheltenham - if you haven't got yours go there! Anyway Chris has been wonderfully supportive of this project that this year was organised by Transition Stroud and Down to Earth Coop - he has supplied most of what we needed to make this event possible. Of course Amanda Godber, Helen Royall, Jane Bown, Norah Kennedy, Tamzin Bent and others have also been great.

The day also saw a wonderful free lemon cake being handed out (made with potatoes instead of flour - you wouldn't know) and sales of the Stroud Potato Recipe book which was launched for last years event. Loads of fun and hopefully it will have raised some money for Transition and the Down to Earth Coop - it looks like the last bags of potatoes will be sold off locally in the coming weeks so check back here and we'll let you know if that does happen.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stroud Potato Day is back!

Potato Day last year
Here is the press release we have just sent out:

Down to Earth Cooperative and Transition Stroud members are organising the second-ever Stroud Potato Day on Saturday 4th February 2012 in Merrywalks Shopping Centre. We are also looking for volunteers to help on the day - it is lots of fun - if you can help please email Seb on: seb-buckton(at)

Philip Booth said: "Stroud Potato Day is back! Last year we were amazed to sell half a tonne of seed potatoes from a stall in Merrywalks. Well we are going to do it again. We hope 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."

Amanda Godber from Down to Earth Cooperative added: "There are over 450 potato varieties grown in this country with supermarkets offering very little choice. This is a chance to grow your own. We will also have on sale 50 remaining copies of the amazing Stroud Potato Day recipe book which sold out last year and had to be reprinted."

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

See the film I made of last year's event  at:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Grow pots in containers

Garden Organic have a piece here on growing potatoes in containers.