The connection between gardening and good health is well established and Robert Hall has learned that it's now going to be the subject of a report from The King's Fund.
At home it used to be chips with everything. Admittedly I was still a child then, but I thought chips and mashed potatoes were entirely different animals.
I certainly did not realise they both came from the humble potato. Or that you could buy different sorts of potatoes!
That was in the 1960's, when food was simply the fuel on which I ran. The more grease on the chips the better! But as time has gone on, cholesterol and fat now stare down at us from their elevated media heights, casting tombstone shadows on the unwise.
Some diets have changed accordingly, and today's young mothers do have a much wider choice of foodstuffs available. And that still includes the potato.
It is infinitely adaptable in the kitchen, and so easy to grow that I would say, if you only grow one vegetable in your garden this year it should be potatoes.
Romano is one of the newer varieties of seed potatoes to look for that is making an impact on our palates. It's a red skinned variety of early potato that is an excellent baker. It is set to oust the ever popular Desiree as the best red, maybe?
Wilja is a second early crop potato which was introduced from Holland in 1972, with a characteristic yellow Dutch flesh. Wilja established itself because it is so clean and adaptable to use.
Of course the older varieties are still in great demand, particularly King Edward and the ever popular Maris Piper. Both of these main crop varieties exhibit a creamy white flesh and floury texture. Use either of them boiled, mashed, baked, roasted, sautéed or chipped and you will get first class results.
They can be used even in salads but Arran Pilot or Home Guard will give better results. These, and most other early varieties are rich in Vitamin C. Dig them out of the garden and serve them on the table the same day to enjoy them at their delicious best.
To grow potatoes successfully set the seed out in a light frost free room to allow the shoots to sprout. They will be ready for planting when the strongest shoots are 1-2 inches long.
Place them every 12 inches along the rows, with each row 24 -30 inches apart. Draw soil over the tubers until they are covered to a depth of 3-4 inches When the plants are 3 inches high draw more soil over them, completely covering the growth.
The early varieties will be ready for lifting after about 12 weeks, some 10 weeks before the main crop.
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