Potato Day 2018

Report on Seed and Potato Day Saturday 17 February 2018

Diane Roberts, Lucas Jones and Matthew Smith

The Potato Day held in Mold last Saturday gave growers from across the region the very best choice of seed potatoes locally. Over 70 different varieties, each with a photograph and key facts label, were on display and experts were on hand to talk to customers about their individual needs. Importantly people could buy as large or as small a quantity as they required.

Recent years have seen a boom in grow-your-own potatoes, and year on year the Potato Day attracts a growing number of gardeners. Matthew Smith from Brighter Blooms Nursery who sells the seed potatoes said he was very pleased with how the day had gone. “This is the first year we’ve held the Mold Potato Day in the Daniel Owen Centre and several people have commented that they liked the light and airy venue. As well as the seed potatoes, vegetable seeds have also flown off the shelf and sales of them have done very well”. Matthew was on hand during the event to give advice and to welcome customers, many of which were returning again to the annual event.

One of those was Diane Roberts of Mold who was buying onion, herb and salad seeds, as well as seed potatoes for Growing Places, Shotton. Diane explained, “Growing Places is a community gardening service, which supports people in a safe environment to be more confident and to develop work related skills and qualifications. We have an allotment and grow vegetables which we then cook and eat. Last year we had a bumper crop of tomatoes and made chutney, which we sold on Mold market to buy the seeds for planting this year.”

The event this year was organised by local community growing group FlintShare, which is a volunteer run social enterprise producing organically grown food with and for its members on three community growing sites in Hawarden, Cilcain and Northop. Everyone is welcome to join Flintshare – to produce good food, using sustainable methods and as part of a friendly community – for more information phone Peter Brownhill on 07960 816870.

At the Mold event the potatoes were sold in small quantities of 1kg nets and split up into first earlies, second earlies and main crop varieties to make it easier for customers to find what they were looking for. Traditionally potatoes are grown in trenches, but they are quite versatile and can be grown in black bins or tough woven polythene planters measuring around 45cm high x 35cm wide.

Potatoes are planted in March/April after the risk of frost has passed and early varieties are ready 9 to 12 weeks from planting, whilst main crops take 14 weeks or more to mature. Being able to buy small quantities at Mold Potato Day gave growers the opportunity to try out new varieties and, by staggering out planting, it is possible to prolong the harvest period from May, all the way to November.

Potatoes are easy and rewarding to grow and really versatile in the kitchen. But because they are propagated vegetatively any disease from the previous year will be carried over, which is why it is so important to grow disease-free seed potatoes (grown in sterile soil), rather than supermarket potatoes.

Peter Brownhill, organiser from FlintShare

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