Tuesday, 16 August 2011
When we visited Pinehaven Farm last fall, we didn't take much notice of this potato. John Wood didn't mention them and we didn't ask about them. It wasn't until we were making up a list of potatoes to grow this year that we thought we ought to have an early one. This was the earliest on his list, so we asked for it.
Envol is a recent potato, bred by Les Buissons Research Centre in Quebec in 1987, and registered in 1999. I'm looking at the local white potatoes available in the grocery store right now though, and I'm pretty sure they're Envol. They appeared right around the time we dug ours. It seems to have become very popular very quickly.
This is an absolutely typical, even archtypical potato; the tubers varied in size but many of them were a nice large size, with very white flesh with a light brown skin, a dry, floury texture and classic potato flavour when cooked. Eyes are shallow, making them smooth and easy to peel, although the skins are thin and unobtrusive. I've been leaving them on.
You're going to see this potato around a lot because of its agricultural qualities as much as its culinary qualities. It's one of the earliest potatoes I've seen, ready in 70 days from planting. We planted about 2 pounds and harvested 18 pounds; not bad at all given how early it was. Envol is supposed to store very well. It's unlikely we'll have any to store though, because we are enjoying them very much.
It sounds like Envol is The Almost Perfect Potato, but alas, it seems that its disease-resistance is average to poor. However, it's worth noting that we have a few Colorado potato beetles in the garden this year, but they didn't get near Envol because they were harvested before the beetles even showed up. That's one way to beat them! By planting Envol early you can avoid many of the problems with disease which don't really tend to pile up until later in the summer.
We actually dug our Envol on day 69 from planting. For about a week it was clear that the plants were dying down, and once they started to go they went fairly quickly. We could have left them for another week or two, I suppose. One thing to note about Envol is that it was bred in a fairly cool northern climate. That has its advantages for us Canadians, but it is also not too tolerant to extreme heat and drought. We kept ours well watered and they did fine, but it is undoubtedly important to do that during periods of drought, otherwise they may die down prematurely leaving a smaller crop.