Occasionally you find a variety of vegetable that, in one mouthful, reminds you exactly why, despite the graft and occasional disappointments you started growing your own in the first place, This vegetable for me last year was Foremost. First earlies can sometimes be a little lacking in flavour but Foremost taste exactly like you would hope that a potato would taste.
Foremost was originally released in the UK as Suttons Foremost in the 1950’s. It has always been popular with home growers and allotment keepers but has never been a commercial success so the only way you are likely to be able to try it is if you grow your own.
In the Kitchen
Foremost is a classic new potato. It has firm, slightly waxy, well flavoured flesh that holds well on cooking. This means that it can be steamed or boiled without falling apart.
Yield and plant health
Foremost has fairly good yields for a first early. Expect to get 6-8 tubers weighing up to 500g per plant.
Catalogues say that Foremost has good scab resistance although independent assessment disagrees. I did get a little scab butt not enough to cause major issues and had very little slug damage. Foremost has no blight resistance but is usually harvested before that is an issue.
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 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.
Blackleg – Not very common in non commercial crops. A rot that withers the stems and travels down in to the tubers.
Rocket 1st early
Lady Christl 1st early
Casablanca 1st early
Swift 1st early
Anya 2nd early
Jazzy 2nd early
Charlotte 2nd Early
Mayan Gold Main crop