This year I've grown Jazzy potatoes - five tubers, each one in a small black plastic growbag. Thompson and Morgan, who handed them out in February, said of this salad potato, which is vaunted as an improvement on Charlotte, "We've been amazed at the high numbers of small tubers coming from Jazzy; we harvested over 80 tubers from just one 8 litre grow bag."
It has an RHS Award of Garden Merit*, and isn't actually all that new, having launched in 2012 with a pretty heavy-duty PR campaign that saw it grace the shelves of shops, including the Co-op and Harrods, in distinctive, high-quality packaging. According to its very own website, "Market-men tell us that it’s 'doin’the business'. Whether that’s down to the good looks, versatility or entertainment value, Jazzy has wide appeal."
[Pause for thought... "entertainment value"???]
Jazzy is a waxy potato which, it is said, can be steamed, boiled, mashed or roasted. I neglected my duty here in only boiling them but, cooked this way, we found them to be a mild-tasting potato, without great character, that were perfectly pleasant with Sunday lunch merely buttered and salted. The skin was virtually non-existent. It's also just as well that they are waxy, as the spuds varied enormously in size, yet the smallest held their shape and texture when boiled as long as the larger ones. (Yes, I know you're meant to cut potatoes up to the same size, but when you've got a significant number the size of peanuts... Honestly, I don't bother.) There's no doubt that, grown in the right medium, they're a good-looking spud.
With five different bags in growth, I used this as an opportunity to compare composts. Here are the yields:
- Harvested 19th July. Grown in Sylvagrow. Weight: 15 oz.
- Harvested 26th July. Grown in SHL. Weight: 16 oz.
- Harvested 2nd August. Grown in mix of Dalefoot wool compost and garden soil. Weight: 17½ oz.
- Harvested 9th August. Grown in Sylvagrow. Weight: 16½ oz.
- Harvested 23rd August. Grown in SHL. Weight: 15 oz.
All the plants had pretty much died down by the time I started harvesting the first bag, so I doubt if the later bags increased much in weight, if at all, during the time they were waiting to be harvested.
The most notable difference was that the crop grown in the wool compost and garden soil had far more tiny potatoes and tended to a bit of scab. Those grown in the other composts had no scab and fewer potato "peanuts".
Is the yield disappointing? Well, after taking grower error into account (i.e. I'm an erratic waterer and they did occasionally dry out enough for the plants to wilt), it's worth considering that the blurb from T&M makes it clear that the excitement is around the number of potatoes, not the weight of harvest. Personally, I'd rather have fewer, larger potatoes.
Over at Home Grown Veg, a comparison with Home Guard (22 potatoes, 1½ lbs) and Jazzy (30 potatoes, between 1½ and 1¾ lbs) shows that you'll get a pretty similar weight over fifteen weeks' growth. Given that Home Guard are first earlies and Jazzy are second earlies, this doesn't seem immediately comparable, but second earlies are generally ready in around 13 weeks, so they've had a fair crack of the whip and I'd say that the yield isn't exactly jaw-dropping.
Still, much effort has been put into making this potato a star. Fans can follow it on Twitter (@jazzy_potato) and watch it in its own video. My feeling is that this "small potato with a big personality" is more of an "average potato with a big advertising budget".
But perhaps you've found different. Have you grown Jazzy this year? What did you think?