Predictably, although the potato day & seed swap were great - & I wouldn't miss it for the world - the last weekend in January at Ryton Organic Gardens was very cold indeed.
It was laid out a little differently to last year, with the seed swap first up - so I gave in my shoe box of bean seeds, & girded the loins of my self control & only chose the equivalent number of varieties to take home with me. Well, just one extra one, but only because the chap running the seed swap wouldn't let me leave without - honest!
So on to the main event - I'd done my homework choosing which varieties of potatoes that I wanted to grow this year from the dozens of types to chose from, so I could go straight in & get picking. In fact, I was startling efficient, & took six big brown envelopes with me already labelled up with the name & number that I wanted of each, so all I had to do was find the right crate (potatoes alphabetically laid out in the marquee), & fill the envelopes.
I've gone for six of each of the first earlies 'red duke of york', 'pentland javelin', six of each of the second earlies 'kestrel', 'charlotte', & eight of each of the main crop 'king edwards' & 'maris piper'.
This exercise took me about 3 minutes from entering the marquee to leaving the pay area, but given that I'd paid a not insubstantial entrance fee, I felt obliged to get my money's worth & have a good look round the gardens.
Although it is very interesting to see how gardens are laid out and the bones' of the structure, there is no getting away from the fact that it was - er - bare.
I persevered round the whole site, reading labels (the composting area of most note - the difference in yields of potatoes when planted in ground which has been fed differently with nothing/leaf mould/compost was astonishing), but on the whole I was very glad to get back in the car & get it toasty warm on the drive home.