Stuart Allbrighton with his Queen Gloria potatoes.
WHEN Stuart All-brighton embarked upon his growing adventure in 2012 he didn’t really know where it would take him.
He discovered a couple of seedpods on his King Edward potatoes, opened the tomato-like pods, and planted them late that year.
Many years before, his father had told him you can name your own potato if you grow it from seed — but he added it was a lot of trouble, so he never did it.
He asked me for my advice at the time and it was, I am afraid, along similar lines — commercial companies spend an awful lot of time and trouble developing new varieties.
I told him it was a bit of fun for the amateur gardener but probably little more than that.
Undeterred by my cynicism, Stuart ploughed on and in August last year sent 120 tubers off to Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) in Edinburgh for virus testing and in October he learned his potatoes had scaled that first hurdle.
To get SASA approval is quite a feather in Stuart’s cap because its work is dedicated to ensuring the quality of seeds and tubers for planting commercially.
"I am willing to be corrected but I have not heard of any other potato varieties that have been born and bred on the Island to have passed that test," said Stuart, who grew his early potatoes in the small back garden of his Sandown Road home at Lake.
"I have now named them Queen Gloria after my wife — she would have preferred a rose — and hopefully I will be able to get someone interested in producing them.
"I’d be open to all ideas as, of course, I only have a very small back garden."
He has already got one farmer on the Island who is growing some for him because Stuart has discovered in order to get them listed — and hopefully passed as a new variety to go on the market — he has to send 600 tubers this year to the relevant department and then again next year before they finally go before a board for an official ruling.
"Now I know exactly what my father meant," said Stuart.
"It’s already taken quite a bit of time and money and it will take at least a couple more years before Gloria is officially recognised."
Ironically, Stuart and Gloria have eaten very few of the potatoes themselves because so many have to be sent away for tasting but they report that eaten as a new potato they are very tasty indeed.