Purple hairy nut, perhaps?

Between two writing deadlines I snatched half an hour to progress a foot or two in removing the residue of an old potato crop from a garden bed.  This is the third time the bed has been dug over, trying to remove every last potato.  This year some of them are as small as one of those Jelly Belly beans – smaller – but every one of them will grow.

I can’t help but agree – half a century after she made the point – with Jean Galbraith that potatoes are amongst the worst of garden weeds.  I wonder if I’d kept the soil really well-fed and well-watered, if the tubers would at least have grown bigger, and would have been easier to spot when first being dug.

Anyway, it gave me time to ponder – could there be any less marketable name for a potato (or any plant for that matter) than Pink Fir Apple?  OK, so the ‘pink’ bit makes sense, as you see below.  But the fir? (which I understood for years to be the even less appealing ‘fur’), and ‘apple’?  What the?

Incidentally, if you haven’t discovered Jean Galbraith, you really should.  She wrote for ‘The Australian Garden Lover’ (a publication that predates me), under the pen name ‘Correa’ for over 50 years, and was just finishing up writing for The Age as I started to contribute in the early 90’s.  I’d argue that she is the best garden writer Australia has produced.  The final chapter of her earliest book ‘Garden in a Valley’ (published by The Garden Lover in 1939, and again in 1985 by The Five Mile Press) is one of the most evocative and deeply insightful pieces of garden writing I’ve encountered.


  1. Never thought I’d say it, but yep, potatoes are weedy in my garden too. I usually just wait until they shoot, which gives away their location, then pull them up (and hopefully get a few little spuds to eat). Some permaculturists grow them year after year in the same bed. Assuming the plants are healthy and don’t get infected with phytophthora, could be a good way to save some work and keep them contained?

    Haven’t read any Jean Gailbraith, but you’ve piqued my interest, Michael. I’ll check her out.

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