Irish Potato Varieties
by National Gardening Association Editors
There's a growing abundance of multicolored and differently shaped potato varieties available to home gardeners. To find out which potatoes do best in your area, ask around -- quiz gardeners, your local cooperative extension service office or the people at a good garden store. Ask about early maturing varieties (to give you some tasty midseason eating) and late varieties (for your main crop and winter storage). Try some red, purple or yellow-fleshed varieties, or experiment with fingerlings.
'Norland' is a great-tasting, early red-skinned potato. Other gardeners prefer the white, round 'Irish Cobbler' for an early potato, but it produces small tubers. 'Katahdin' is a good white mid- or late-season potato in the North, producing roundish, multi-use tubers. 'Kennebec' is an "old reliable', whose large, smooth, well-shaped potatoes store well.
The 'Russet Burbank' is probably the most widely grown variety in the United States. The Russet or Idaho types are famous for their superb baking quality, though they can be fussy. 'Butte' is a new Russet type with 20 percent more protein. In the South, 'Red LaSoda' is a popular early red variety and 'Norgold M' is a good, early baking type.
If you want to devote only a little of your garden space to potatoes, try an early variety. You can start harvesting early varieties about 10 weeks after planting, so most gardeners still have time to clear out or till in the potato vines after the harvest is over and plant something else. Fall crops such as lettuce, cabbage or kale will do well when the weather cools off.
Fingerling potatoes are early, novelty types available from a number of mail-order seed companies. Their name derives from their shape. The red, yellow or purple tubers are small -- only a couple of inches thick -- and shaped like fingers. They're good steamed, sliced for home fries or in potato salad.
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