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How to grow the humble spud!

Growing directly in the garden

  • Prepare the soil by adding compost or well-rotted cow manure. Potatoes like a rich, but well-drained soil, so do not plant below ground level or where water gathers in winter.
  • Plant your potatoes about 10cm deep and 30cm apart. Leave about 80cm between each row.
  • Sprinkle with some Blood and Bone and water in well. Keep moist, but not wet.
  • As the plants grow, mound soil up along the stem to a height of around 30cm.
  • Repeat throughout the season as the potatoes grow.

Growing in a wire frame

  • Make a cylinder of chicken wire about 1m in diameter and support 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.
  • Harvest potatoes by removing the wire and uncovering your crop. Use the straw as mulch on your gardens.

Growing in a large container

  • Prepare a large container eg. 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 method above, but when harvesting it you will have to cut the bin or dig out the potatoes.

Growing in potato bags

  • Plant 4 potatoes per bag, 10cm deep after the chance of frost has passed. Prepare the bag by filling the bottom half of the bag with potting mix or a good compost.
  • Place the bag in full sun and protect it from frost.
  • Once your potatoes start to sprout - keep filling the bag up with compost, potting mix or straw so the tips of the shoots are still able to be warmed by the sun.
  • If you want to feed your potatoes, sprinkle a handful of Blood and Bone or Dynamic Lifter over the straw mix.
  • Tip: Compost will produce better results than potting mix. The mix needs to be free-draining so the combination of straw helps create optimal drainage. Do not overwater.

Harvesting your crop

When the plant has flowered and the leaves begin to yellow, you can harvest your ‘new’ potatoes. These have a very thin skin and do not store well but taste delicious cooked straight from the garden.

Do not water your potatoes again. This is easy when grown in a tower or tatey bag as it’s easy to “bandicoot” a few new spuds without exposing the entire crop.

Alternatively, you can leave your potatoes for 2-3 weeks from when the plant has died off to let the skins thicken. This allows them to be stored for longer. You can then carefully dig out your tasty crop and store in a well ventilated but dark place.

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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