25 September 2013

This year's spuds

I've finished digging up the last few rows of potatoes.To start with there were nine rows with an average of eight tubers in each row. I think I got carried away after my visit to Madeira where potato growing is a bit of an art form.
To try to counter possible late blight I cut off the haulms of the 2nd early and main crop varieties and then left the tubers in the ground.This seems to have worked well against the blight but has resulted in some varieties not fully maturing and a feast for slugs and wire worms.

I started off with Orla in late June.They were my joint equal best variety, with a fabulous new potato taste. Some of them were quite large given that they'd only been in the ground for just over 11 weeks. The first ones dug up in the dry spell had quite a lot of common scab but they cleaned up nicely.There was less scab  after it started raining in July.

The Belle de Fontenay flattered to deceive.They looked good but had a disappointing flavour.
The Sharpe's Express were more like a slow goods train. Partly my fault for removing the haulms too early which resulted in stunted tubers which were bland tasting.

In contrast ,the Salad Blue were another fabulous tasting variety although the slugs and eel worm seem to hate them.Quite a lot of brown scab on the surface but very clean when peeled.
I got quite hooked on these.
Salad Blue

Saxon were a major disappointment.Well developed tubers ,but when I dug them up they all felt lightweight relative to their size. The slug and eel worm damage was obvious on some of them but on others the only outward sign was a small entrance hole which then revealed a maze of tunnels when the potato was cut in half.Yuk.

The last two types dug up recently have been better. Harlequin are a kidney variety that cropped well and I've still been able to get a decent number even after sifting out the very small ones and any with pest damage.They look like salad potatoes but are quite flowery when cooked.Quite a nice flavour.
 Romano were an afterthought on my return from Madeira when I decided that I needed to grow more spuds.I'm quite pleased with the results.Although there are only a few tubers from each plant they are a decent size ,with relatively little pest damage ,good looking ,and have a good flavour.
 I'll certainly try to grow Orla ,Salad Blue and perhaps Romano again next year.I'm looking out for other varieties with coloured flesh as it seems to ward off pests.Apparently there's a Salad Red type?

19 September 2013

Slovakia and Eastern Austria photos

Here's the photo album from my late August/early September trip.

I flew from Liverpool to Bratislava and then took the train to Liptovsky Mukulas which is about half way across Slovakia with the High Tatra to the north on the border with Poland and the Lower (Nizke) Tatra to the south. Having been to the High Tatra a while ago I took advantage of the good local bus service to do some day walks in the Nizke Tatry and neighbouring Velka Fatra range. The Slovaks must like these mountains as there are a huge number of signed paths and some lovely mountain huts.

Chata pod Borisovom in the Velka Fatra

While the Demanovska Dolina to the south of Liptovsky Mukulas has a large amount of winter skiing paraphernalia ( as well as some famous tourist caves) the mountains to either side are very attractive and I had a wonderful walk from the top of the Chopok cable car east along the ridge via Dumbier (the highest point of the range) and the Chata M R Stefanika (famous Slovak ,google him) then down to Vysna Boca to catch the bus.

As it was only a 10 day trip I then travelled back through Bratislava and on to Vienna where I stayed a night before heading into Styria for a three day walk in the Hochschwab mountains north of Bruck an der Mur.
Posh nosh in Vienna

The Hochschwab are the next range east from the Gesause Alps ,where I went in early July, but are more easily accessed by public transport from the Vienna side.
Great huts, food and drink as usual ,as well as scenery.

Late lunch

After finishing my walk at Tragoss I took the bus down to Bruck an der Mur and the next day travelled back through Vienna and then down the Danube by boat to Bratislava. A fast catamaran which made it difficult to take un-blurred photos. I hadn't seen much of Bratislava earlier in the trip but the old town was an enjoyable place to spent the final night and most of the last day before my late flight home.