- 14th Jul 2020
- Growing Out and About
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So here we are in Suffolk – a county of big skies and 50 miles of glorious coastline. We’re in an area of outstanding natural beauty, surrounded by environmentally sensitive farming that makes the best of the rich fertile soil and unique landscape.
A mile or so down a sandy farm track, we find a potato field with harvesting in full swing. The crop has been ‘topped’ (the potato plants have been trimmed off a few inches above ground) to slow the rate of growth right down because they’ll be harvesting these small New potatoes a few rows at a time, so that they’re as fresh as possible for each day’s orders.
Just the other side of a strip of scrub is the shingle beach and the rolling waves of the North Sea. This field is the size of around 10 football pitches, but it’s one of many along the coast that’s getting smaller over the years due to erosion. The fine, soft soil is very light and sandy, so it dries out and warms up very quickly. There’s a constant sea breeze here too, either onshore or offshore, which helps to keep the land frost-free. They can plant here much earlier than inland fields to give the crops a head start and that means it’s ideal for growing early New potatoes.
These little beauties are called Bambino. They’re a slightly rounder variety than Maris Peer and they produce lots of small tubers in a short growing season, which is ideal for quick-cooking, bite-sized seasonal New potatoes. Jim Wayman looks after the marketing for the farms in Three Musketeers Ltd, a group of six family owned farms who work together to farm approximately 32,000 acres on the Heritage Coast of Suffolk. He’s looking forward to quality-checking his sample for dinner tonight - just lightly steamed and served with a bit of butter. “They’ve grown in just 12 weeks and you can taste the natural freshness,” he says.