Those of you who are not Sainsbury’s customers might never have heard of the potato Anya.
Anya was bred in 1996 by a collaboration between the Scottish Crop Research Institute and the Sainsbury’s family and was named after the former ballerina Lady Sainsbury. I’m not too sure how I would feel about having a potato named after me but she must have loved it as Sainsbury’s have been selling it ever since.
Anya’s parents are Pink Fir Apple and Desirée. It is grown for Sainsbury’s and only Sainsbury’s in the UK by Albert Bartletts. Albert Bartletts however do sell seed potato for you to grow your own. It is important to note that it is always a good idea to buy certified disease free tubers to grow, rather than buying from a supermarket. In Anyas case it is especially important as it is still subject to plant breeders rights until 2026!
A potato with Pink Fir Apple in its heritage you would expect to have good flavour and in that respects Anya does not disappoint. It has a nutty flavour, remanisant of Pink Fir Apple. If you were to compare it to the nations favourite salad potato Cara you would find it less sweet and more waxy.
In the kitchen
Anya is a waxy salad potato and those who are fond of the taste of pink fir apple but frustrated by it’s lumps and bumps will enjoy Anya as it is a fine flavoured potato. As well as using in salads you can steam, sauté, lightly boil or slice in half to make wedges or chips. If you fancy something a little more out of the ordinary why not try Brave Potatoes
Yield and plant health
Anya is a second early potato meaning it crops in the middle of the season, roughly July to August. Like Pink Fir Apple it is a slightly funny looking potato with very visible eyes giving it a dimpled appearance. Tubers will grow to the size of your thumb. Yields and disease resistance are fair Anya is grown for it’s flavour more than anything else. Anya prefers a slightly lighter soil so if you are on heavy clay you could try growing in pots. This has the added advantage of reducing slugs.
When your seed potatoes arrive, remove them from the packaging and lay eye side up in egg boxes or on paper in a light, cool but frost free place. This is called chitting.
In late march – early April dig a narrow trench about 10cm deep. To improve yield you can line with compost or well rotted manure but it will make the potatoes more prone to slugs. You can water in some nematodes if it is warm enough who will infect any nearby slugs and will offer some protection for 6 weeks. You can repeat by watering them in when earthing up but make sure you are watering the soil not the foliage.
Space the seed potatoes 40cm apart in rows 30cm apart. Cover the potatoes with the soil from the trench. When the halms appear above the surface you will need to cover them with earth if there is sign of a frost coming. When they are about 20cm high you will want to draw soil about 15cm up the stems in to a flat topped ridge. This will reduce the likelihood of getting green potatoes due to light exposure as these are toxic. You can also earth up with a mulch of compost or straw.
Potatoes will not need much watering except in the driest of weathers when you would want to water well once a week. As a rule more water will lead to larger, but also more watery potatoes.
You can buy specialist potato fertiliser but a sprinkling of organic bone meal dug lightly in to the soil is probably all they will need, especially if you have dug in compost or manure on planting or have earthed up with compost.
Pests and diseases
Slugs – You can reduce the slugs by using nematodes watered in to the soil before planting.
Scab – Causes rough scabby patches on the potato skin and the flesh underneath. It is unsightly and can affect storage potential. Any potatoes with scab should be used quickly.
Blight – Fungal infection that can devastate any potato crop that has no resistance. Leaves will show browning patches, which get more and more prolific, including on the stems until the entire plant is covered. The foliage of any potato showing signs of blight should be cut down to the stems and removed. The potatoes left in the ground for a week before being dug up. If not caught early, blight can infect tubers, which will rot in storage but some are more resistant that others. There is no non chemical cure but some varieties are resistant.