Compared with “regular” spuds, fingerling potatoes are smaller and elongated—shaped (as you’d guess) like pudgy fingers. Cooked, they hold together, with a waxy (rather than mealy or floury) texture, perfect for warm potato salads. Abundantly productive in the garden, fingerlings are as easy to grow as other potatoes.
Plant a chunk of potato in May and expect to lift a dozen or more tubers by September. Pick a sunny spot and soil enriched with compost. A 1-by-1.5-metre bed holds six plants with generous spacing. Loosen the ground by spading, forking or tilling, and pick out large stones as you go, since spuds form better in earth that offers little (or no) resistance.
Potatoes go in a week or two before the spring frost-free date. You’ll need seed potatoes, tubers sold for planting rather than eating, each with several sprouting eyes, points of growth that give rise to the plant itself. Cut seed into pieces with 2 or 3 eyes each, trowel out a small hole, 8 to 10 centimetres deep, nestle them in and cover.
As the fingerlings grow, weed and water as need be. Sunlight will green potatoes that break the soil surface, so by the end of June cover the patch with a mulch of grass clippings, compost or leaves to keep them in the dark.
When tops have yellowed and withered, pull or dig up plants, then grub around in the ground by hand to find tubers that have broken away.