Here’s hoping 
Maxine is as Bonnie as Blue Belle

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The sun has shone on Shoogly Towers for around two hours on two consecutive days, which constitutes spring in my book.

I will ignore the sharp frosts, the fact that – even though there is some warmth in the sun – it is still ‘finger-endy’, and that there is a depressing amount of mud everywhere, to revel in the fact that the birds are chirping hopefully and that I had forgotten just how good sun on grass looks.

I am sure lots of folk felt the same last weekend, grasping at the same straw and feeling that they could – at last – start to dare to think about what they might like to plant in their veggie patch for this year.

That’s why I love, love, love Potato Day. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Borders Organic Gardeners, for Potato Day. It gives us permission to plan, and dream, and Buy Stuff to plant. OK, so it’s still too early to actually stick stuff in the soil in the raised beds at Shoogly Towers, but potatoes give you Something To Do until that time comes.

As egg producers (ooooh, get me), we have no shortage of egg boxes in which to put the potatoes, and a newly re-roofed greenhouse for them to chit in.

But what varieties to choose? Pulling the car into Springwood on Potato Day at 11.45am, just 45 minutes after the doors are opened, we were motioned by marshalls (yes, plural) to a spot quite a way from the hall. This is Not Good. Puts me in mind of a garden centre car park on a Bank Holiday.

Inside, it was like the Next sale. Everyone has a common goal and is determined to get what they want – but they are also determined to stay focused and look cool as they go about it.

You might hear: “Oh, golly gosh, is that Pink Fir Apple sold out already? Never mind, I was looking forward to choosing something different this year.”

What they actually mean is: “Whaaaaat! Pink Fir Apple sold out already? How the beep did that happen and why didn’t they buy in enough! Morons!”

Well, dear readers, I can share that at Shoogly this year we will be growing the first earlies Winston (described in potato god Alan Romans’ Guide to Seed Potato Varieties as ‘smooth and bold’ like the man himself) and Foremost (‘excellent cooking characteristics’ – not after I’ve mistakenly blasted it at 800W for 15 mins).

Our second earlies are Maxine (‘firm and waxy’ – hopefully not like Poirot’s moustache) and Bonnie 
(‘high yielding’ – hooray!), and our main crops are Vales Sovereign (‘a cross marketed by Greenvale’, so that counts as a local potato in my book) and Stemster (a Scottish-
bred potato ‘little grown in the UK but important in France’, so presumably makes good pommes frites?).

Lastly, I bought a few 
tubers of Blue Belle for two tubs I sometimes use for growing tatties, as Blue Belle is the name of a hybrid hen variety.

See, squeezed a chook in there right at the end.