You can’t beat home grown spuds, and if you’re married to an irishman (like me!) then it is nearly illegal not to plant some….or rather LOTS!
The great news is that potatoes are pretty easy to grow and very productive. I still get a thrill out of the fact that, 1 seed potato will yield between 8-10 MORE potatoes.
Potatoes can be grown in the ground, a garden bed OR in containers. Container planting is a brilliant way of growing potatoes in small spaces.
Potatoes are grown from “seed potatoes” – these aren’t really seeds like ones you get in a foil packet. Seed potatoes look just like normal potatoes – except certified seed potatoes have been grown in a disease free zone to ensure that your potato plants also grow disease free!
Some people like to “chit” their seed potatoes before planting – this basically means leaving them in a light (but not full sun) position to develop the eyes or sprouts. This shows you which way to plant the potatoes – shoots pointing up. But I’ve often planted my seed potatoes without chitting them – and had a great harvest.
- a full sun position
- well draining soil, that is rich in organic matter
- regular watering – don’t let them dry out.
- frost, if you live in a frost prone area leave your planting until after the frosts.
- wet feet, make sure the site you choose for your potatoes has good drainage. If you are planting in containers make sure they have plenty of drainage holes – DO NOT use self watering pots.
I’ve got these clever potato bags from Gardentrend – they are designed to fold up when it is not potato season – great for balconies or courtyards.
You can check out this video on planting potatoes in containers……
[vimeo width=”550″ height=”300″]http://vimeo.com/28001091[/vimeo]
To plant potatoes in containers
1. Use an organic soil rich mix. A mix of 50% compost and 50% potting mix is great. Or 100% compost will also work fine. Choose a certified organic one if possible!
2. Add in a generous 2 handfuls of Seamungus fertiliser to each container (mixed through the soil). Commercial potato farmers have found that Seamungus really helps improve the number of potatoes at harvest.
3. Cover the bottom of your container with a 15cm deep layer of your soil mix. And place the seed potatoes on the surface of this.
4. Now cover over these spuds with about 5-10cm of more soil. And water in well. Place in a full sun spot in your garden.
5. Within 2-3 weeks you’ll see green shoots emerging. As the shoots emerge and grow skywards, continue to cover them with more soil mix OR you can use pea straw or lucerne mulch. Covering the emerging green shoots encourages more potatoes to grow.
6. Once you’ve filled the container with soil or mulch within a few centimetres of the top – stop back filling and leave the potatoes to develop and grow. The green foliage will grow 1-2 feet above the top of the container.
** For planting potatoes in your garden or garden bed, improve the soil first with compost and Seamungus, fork through well and then plant your seed potatoes as per steps 4-6.
HARVESTING your potatoes
You can harvest “new” potatoes 12-14 weeks from planting – new potatoes are small potatoes with a fragile skin that doesn’t really need peeling. They are delicious boiled whole and served drizzled with butter and parsley. YUM!
These clever potato bags above have velcro side flaps that makes scouting for these new potatoes really easy!
If you have the patience, wait until the foliage of the potato plants has died back and then dive in and dig for your spuds. These more mature potatoes have a tougher skin, so they store well.
STORING your potatoes
Lay out your newly harvested spuds on some newspaper to air dry for a day – just to take the moisture out of the soil clinging to them. Then place them in a newspaper lined box, in a cool and dry place. Cover with a lid or a few more pieces of newspaper to keep the light out and prevent your precious harvest from turning green. They should last for 2-3 months depending on variety and storage conditions.
** The Gardentrend “Let’s Grow” Potato Bags are available in sets of 2 from Bunnings Warehouse**