I have fallen out of love with the potato. There, I’ve said it. This doesn’t feel like a temporary split, a trial separation. No. It feels like a divorce. It has a degree of finality about it. Here’s the funny thing. I think gardening has killed the love.
Last year, when everyone was banging on about the wettest summer in history ever, even when the country of England (and the other bits we lease out) was under the oceans, my potatoes were pretty miserable. I got a few decent ones, but most of them rotted. I was as disappointed as a young lad who went to see dwarf strippers and found out that they were male! And ugly!
At the start of this year I went to a potato day, and to be honest I got a bit giddy. I bought too many, and a wide range of varieties too. I ended up with Jersey Royals, Golden Wonder, Edzell Blues, Edgecote Purples, Kerrs Pinks, Blue Belles, Estima, Belle de Fontenay, Wilja, Carlingford, Witchill, Ratte, Remarka, Pentland Hawks and Maris Bards! I was excited for 2013, so excited that I formed the Potato Premier League to allow them to battle through the summer for the title of grand champion.
They started off slowly, and to be honest never really got going. Both in the garden and in the field, the foliage was subdued, the growth was minimal, and they just sort of … didn’t do much. When I lifted the first of the first earlies, they were tiny and somewhat scabby. A few others reported similar results. I left them. After all, I had salad to eat and other stuff going on, plus my digging was curtailed by the knee operation.
Since then, I have skirted around the potatoes. To be honest, I can’t be arsed with them. They didn’t grow properly, so I couldn’t be bothered to dig them up. I did have one dig around in a moment of guilt, but they were so small and scabby that I gave up. Now we are getting into that ‘mash’ time of year I am having mashed squash and parsnips. The two go together really well. The potatoes are still out there, unwanted and unloved. I haven’t eaten one for ages.
The other day I found myself out at a business lunch, and what was on the menu but calves liver with potato mash. For a moment I got excited. Maybe what I needed was a feed of potatoes to remind me just how good they were. This would put me back on the right track for 2014.
They were – when compared to mashed squash and parsnips – inferior. I didn’t eat them. I couldn’t be bothered.
So I am looking down the barrels of a potatoless 2014. The space I free up will be used by an onion experiment.
I might regret it, or I might crack and dash out to a potato day before January is over, but my feeling is that the spud and I are through. Except for a few Jersey Royals. Maybe.