Sunday, April 18, 2010

Keeper of The Kerr's

Wild Plants And Wooly Bears

Many years ago, a dear friend, now long gone, introduced me to a species of potato that he had brought here from Scotland in the first half of the 20th century. Although called Kerr’s reds, they are mostly purple. To my knowledge, nobody else in Maine grows or even knows of, these remarkable spuds.

Kerr’s have a somewhat mealy texture and a rich, sweet flavor. They are small, the biggest running a mite smaller than the average, Maine potato. Also, Kerr’s make the absolute best home-fried potatoes going. I absolutely love them.

Potatoes take quite a bit of garden space and I was never able to grow my Kerr’s in quantity. Sometimes, I’ll grow a few in a five-gallon pail, covering them with dirt as the vines spread. And on occasion, I’ll cover a handful with hay and grow them that way.

At any rate, I consider the ongoing care of Kerr’s reds something of a sacred trust. I am, in fact, the “keeper of the potatoes.”

These are, of course, an heirloom variety. If only for that fact, they should not be allowed to perish. I’m not even sure of Kerr’s status in their native Skye, Scotland. It seems to me that even there, they are a scarce commodity.

If anyone desires to assist me in my charge, I would be more than happy to give them a few seeds to begin their task.

1 comment:

  1. I live near Pittsburgh, PA and just read your article in YANKEE. Then that led me to your blog and to this article on potatoes. I would love to try growing some of these potatoes. I have had luck growing potatoes with growing tomatoes on top of them in the garden. This year though, due to last year's tomato blight, I will only be growing tomatoes in containers. Thus, I have a bunch of 5 gallon buckets. I would love to try growing some of these potatoes in a couple buckets. I was quite fascinated by your article about taking to the woods to find edible wild plants. We have a large wooded area not far from here and I have often wondered what edible plants grow there. Last week I did a Christ in the Passover presentation for Teen Challenge and one of the counsellors was telling me that he was headed out to the woods to find some sorrel mushrooms that grow nearby. That got me started! Then I found your article in YANKEE!

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