Catalogue Rip

It is disgraceful to see that seed and plant firms are now ripping off gardeners in the Highlands and Islands by placing ridiculously high surcharges on any orders we want to place with them. Many are asking for at least £10 extra to send seeds to the Orkney Islands by Royal Mail first-class delivery, when the actual cost of sending is the same as that from London to Luton.

Come on you seed boys, get your act together and play the game.

I write an article in the local newspaper every week on vegetable gardening but I am finding it difficult to recommend any seed companies because of their exorbitant delivery charges. Bill Vevers, via email Steve says: I have spoken to one of the larger seed companies about this perennial complaint. They say that because of the weight of some parcels such as seed potatoes, they use a carrier rather than Royal Mail to deliver off of the mainland. The charges are therefore determined by the carrier and are reflected in the overall price to the customer.

Do any other readers have similar experiences?


I have been following the exchange of readers' views on the merits of Sarpo blight-resistant potatoes and would like to add my own experiences to the debate.

I have grown 'Desiree' as my maincrop variety for six years, and have had two blight-affected crops. In both cases by cutting the haulms as soon as it became clear that blight was taking hold, we salvaged a reasonable crop.

Last year I grew 'Sarpo Mira' and 'Sarpo Axona' in equal numbers - about 25 tubers of each. Stupidly, I did not grow 'Desiree' for comparison.

So, what happened? Fine healthy plants without a trace of blight, but a disappointing yield. There were large clean tubers, but relatively few of them - about half what I have been used to with 'Desiree'.

The biggest disappointment was in the kitchen. It has proved to be impossible to make a pan of mashed potatoes, as they disintegrate rapidly into a mixture of lumps and purée.

& tips


-d The best cooking performance has been as baked potatoes, but the flavour overall has been inferior to 'Desiree'. However, they do taste better than most shop-bought varieties.

We grow our own potatoes for the joy of eating things that taste good. The Sarpo varieties don't taste as good as our previous variety, 'Desiree', and don't cook as well, so I shall be taking my chances with blight this year. Mr David Richards, Dixton, Monmouth

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