Potatoes

Camilla Lazzar on growing the humble spud!

Planting potatoes directly into the garden

Prepare the soil by adding compost or well rotted cow manure.

Potatoes like a rich, but well drained soil. Plant your potatoes about 10cm deep and 30cm apart after the chance of frost has passed. Leave about 80cm between each row.

Sprinkle with some Blood and Bone and water in well. Keep moist, but not wet. One seed potato tuber yields around 8-10 tubers. Plant by 1st October.

Planting potatoes in a wire frame

Make a cylinder of chicken wire about 1m in diameter and support it with 3-4 star pickets or strong garden stakes.

Prepare the soil at the base of the cylinder by digging it over well and adding compost or well rotted cow manure. Plant approx. 4 potatoes in the prepared soil and cover with straw, manure and a sprinkling of Blood and Bone.

As the plants grow, add more straw and manure so that the tips of the stems are still visible. Repeat throughout the season as the potatoes grow to however high your chicken wire is.

Harvest potatoes by removing the wire and uncovering your crop. Use the straw as mulch on your gardens.

Planting potatoes in a large container

Prepare a large container (e.g. rubbish bin or half wine barrel) to ensure they have adequate drainage. Place a thick layer of straw and well rotted manure at the base of the container. Plant about 4 potatoes.

Follow the wire frame method above, but when harvesting you will have to cut the bin or dig out the potatoes.

Planting potatoes in a "Tatey Bag"

Prepare the bag by filling the bottom half of the bag with potting mix or a good compost.

One Tatey Bag will fit 4 seed potato tubers. Sit the 4 seed potatoes on top of the potting mix or compost. Top them with approximately 10cm of compost or good potting mix and water in well.

When your potatoes start to sprout, top the Tatey Bag up with compost, potting mix or straw so the tips of the shoots are still visible and able to be warmed by the sun.

If you want to feed the potatoes a handful of Blood and Bone or Dynamic Lifter is best.

Tip: Compost will produce better results than potting mix. The mix needs to be well draining so the combination of straw helps create this free drainage. Do not over water or your potatoes may rot.

Harvesting your crop

When the plant has flowered and the leaves begin to yellow you can 'bandicoot' under your potato plants to harvest 'new' potatoes.

These have a very thin skin and do not store well, but taste delicious. The main crop is harvested when the plant dies off. Don't water your potatoes at this stage.

Leave the crop in the ground (or Tatey Bag etc.) for 2-3 weeks from when the plant has died off to let the skins thicken. You can then carefully dig up your tasty crop and store in a well ventilated position away from direct sunlight.

Never eat potatoes that have turned green or have green shoots as they can be poisonous.

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Camilla Lazzar

A highly experiences fruit, vegie and ornamental gardener with a BAppSc in Horticulture from Melbourne University, Camilla worked with Diggers for over 20 years and headed up our bulb, seed and plant departments.
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