Most of the information below has been kindly supplied by David Marks from his website
An excellent choice of potato not only because it it extremely versatile but primarily because of taste. Wilja tastes of real potato and takes of some of the characteristics of the soil in which it is grown. As you might guess, the supermarkets didn’t like the idea of a potato tasting like a potato so they dumped Wilja several years ago in favour of the blander Estima.
For amateur gardeners interested in a second early that is full of flavour and suffers from no major drawbacks then we recommend Wilja very highly..
The parents of Wilja are Climax x KO 51-123.
APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF WILJA
The yield from Wilja is good, not astonishing but very acceptable. What is unusual about this variety is that the majority of potatoes produced reach full size with only very small differences between them. The flesh is of a medium dry texture making this an excellent all round potato for roast, boiling, jackets and chips. One of Wilja’s enduring advantages over some potatoes is that it holds its shape well even when boiled for a couple of minutes longer than necessary.
POSITIVE POINTS FOR WILJA
An excellent all-rounder as far as cooking is concerned and makes the best boiled potatoes. It’s tops for taste. For a second early it keeps well. Excellent resistance to scab and dry rot, no real failings as far as disease resistance is concerned except for eelworm. Good resistance to slugs.
NEGATIVE POINTS FOR WILJA
There are no major drawbacks to Wilja except for a susceptibility to eelworm. It was dropped from the supermarkets in favour of Estima because of its rough skin. The last time you ate the skin of a potato was ………?
WHEN TO PLANT WILJA POTATOES
Wilja potatoes are second earlies potatoes and they are ready for harvest, if conditions are correct, 15 to 17 weeks after the seed potatoes are sown. The key factor governing the time for sowing all potatoes is the date of the last frost in your area. Even a touch of frost can damage potato plants if their foliage is above ground, an unexpected severe frost can kill them completely.
The date for planting Wilja potato seed can be calculated on the basis that seed potatoes will take four weeks before they appear above ground. Given also that you want them to appear above ground only when the danger of frost has passed (the last week of April 2014 is the UK average) the last week of March 2014 is about right time to plant them.
WHEN TO HARVEST WILJA POTATOES
The harvest date for all potatoes is not only dependent on when you plant your seed potatoes, it also depends on the weather conditions throughout the growing season. But on average you can expect your potatoes to be ready for harvest some time between the second and last weeks of July 2014 in your area of the UK.
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF WILJA
USE: Excellent for all types of cooking except as salad potatoes.
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Mid brown, slightly rough texture
FLESH COLOUR: Cream
TASTE AND TEXTURE: Low in water content, slightly waxy, good taste.
STORAGE: Stores well
POTATO SIZE: Average
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Regularly produces a good yield
AWARDS: RHS AGM
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
HOW TO GROW
Plant second early potato crops from March. Prior to planting, ‘chit’ the seed potatoes by setting them out in a cool, bright position (10C/ 50F) to allow them to sprout.
When growing second early potatoes in the ground avoid planting in soil where potatoes have grown for two years in succession to reduce the risk of disease. Prepare the planting area in a sheltered position in full sun on moist well drained soil. Dig in plenty of well rotted manure. Plant potatoes in rows at a spacing of 37cm (15″). Rows should be set out 75cm (2′, 6″) apart. Place the seed potatoes into 10cm (4″) deep trenches and backfill the soil to refill the trenches. When shoots reach 20cm (8″), mound up soil around the shoots leaving just a few cm showing. Repeat this process after a further 3 weeks.
Where space is limited, try growing potatoes in potato bags on the patio. Fill the potato bags by one third with good quality compost mixed with some well rotted manure. Space 3 seed potatoes in each bag on top of the compost. Fill the bags by another third and place 2 more seed potatoes on top of the compost. Finally cover them with more compost until the bags are full. Place the bags in a sunny position and water regularly to keep the compost moist.