This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Mr Gray has been curiously misled with regard to the Potato Redbog Early. He says, "Why named Red I am unable to say, as it is a white." Redbog is the name of the place where it appears to have originated. It is not nearly so good a Potato here as White Don, so it is not grown now. With regard to some of the other kinds noted, I was rather surprised to find Porter's Excelsior so highly spoken of; we have never had it fit to eat. Schoolmaster has turned out a great cropper; very handsome, but deficient in table qualities. My opinion of its merits to take its place as a standard sort is not high. Of the class which Blanchard represents, this past season there were tried some six or seven sorts, all of them handsome in shape, and pretty in the markings of the several sorts, but in other respects worthless. I find no round Potatoes better in their respective seasons than are White Don, Dalmahoy, and Walker's Regent. The first-named is the finest-flavoured Potato I know. Early Market is the earliest good eating round Potato; but in this respect much depends on how the tubers are treated before planting-time. Of kidney-shaped sorts, the earliest I have grown is Early Sovereign, one of the Early Rose type: it is also the best flavoured of this class, though not a productive sort.
Late Rose is the heaviest cropper; but I fancy there is an apparent tendency in this variety to revert to the type. Beauty of Hebron, the latest addition to this family, is not worth speculating in. A good selection of Myatt's is a very profitable Potato. Mona's Pride is rather earlier. Magnum Bonum I am inclined to consider as never likely to become a standard sort: it has turned out a large crop of good tubers here, but its quality is inferior. Each set was allowed a space of 5 feet by 3 feet, and the shaws produced were something enormous. Snowflake has not proved a Potato really worth growing, taking the test quality - that of eating - into consideration. It is, however, very productive, the tubers being also handsome. I had somewhere about three hundred picked tubers of this sort last season from a comparatively small space of ground. To eighteen of these was awarded a cup at a neighbouring show. At another show, held during summer, some International Kidneys which were shown were believed by many to have been rubbed over with cream or fresh butter, though merely washed in soft water and dried with a soft cloth.
I have been greatly disappointed with this variety, having bought it at a high rate, not only under the impression of its being a fine sort as regarded "looks," but also an extra fine-flavoured kind. It is indeed the finest-looking kidney Potato grown, but it is not fit for table. Mr Gray mentions Bountiful. This is a kind that needs very liberal cultivation. It is possessed of a peculiar flavour, though pleasing; and when well grown, is a very good variety. It is curious that every particular variety of Potato is possessed of a flavour peculiar to itself; but, as in the case of the Pea, the number of really good-flavoured kinds is very limited. Sextus, and a sort I have been told of named Eclipse, are kinds I think highly of. Where kidney sorts are appreciated, these will be found good garden varieties. Victoria still reigns finest of late kinds. It will not be wise for any one to limit the space planted with these old approved sorts, expecting to be better with newer kinds ; most of these are merely fit for pig's food.
R. P. Brotherston.