How to grow spectacular spuds

It’s time to start thinking about what potatoes you are going to plant this season and where/how you are going to grow them.

In Melbourne I usually plant my spuds as seed potatoes in August, but check your climate zone on the Vegie Guide to find out when is best to plant them in your region.

potato varieties from The Diggers Club

Image courtesy The Diggers Club

Top tips for spectacular spuds:

  • they like a free draining, friable soil 
  • don’t grow them in a spot that has grown spuds in the past 3 years
  • add well rotted animal manure to the soil before planting
  • fertilise with blood and bone and a sprinkle of potash, once plants sprout
  • plant your seed potatoes 10cm deep, once they have a few sprouted “eyes”
  • hill up the soil or mulch around your potato plants as they grow

Growing potatoes in 1 Square Metre…or less?

You don’t need a large space to grow potatoes.Try growing them in a cylinder of chicken wire held upright with 3-4 star pickets. Prepare the soil at the base of the cylinder and plant 3-4 seed potatoes. Cover them with straw mixed with some manure. As the plants grow 20cm above the straw mixture add more so that just the tips of the stems are visible above the second layer. Repeat this to about 1-1.2m high – or however high your chicken wire cylinder is. When the leaves die down, remove the chicken wire and harvest your potatoes. Deep pots like wine barrels can also be used.

Choose your own spud adventure….

“You can have the right potato for every culinary occasion”, says The Diggers Club. I’ve always had great harvests from Nicola, Desiree and King Edward. And I love the skin colour of the Royal Blue, but there are a few on the list below that I’ve never tried before…..might have to get my hands on some of these to grow this year.

Yellow fleshed potatoes

Kipfler – Creamy yellow flesh that is the standard by which other varieties are judged. Great baked or boiled, unbeaten for salads. Yield: 400g/plant.

Spunta – A huge oblong potato with yellow flesh and skin. It makes the best chips – just like Pringles without the chemicals. Very high yielder.

Desiree – A high yielding Dutch variety with soft pink skin and creamy flesh. Great for all cooking methods, except chips. 130 days to maturity. Yield: 1kg/plant.

King Edward – This heirloom potato raised in 1902 has stood the test of time, with creamy flesh and skin dappled pink. Great for boiling, chips and mash. Unbeaten for roasts.

Royal Blue – Rich, royal blue skin fades to golden brown when made into crispy chips or crunchy roast potatoes. The creamy yellow flesh ensures luscious mash.

Pink Eye – Of unknown origins this beautiful cream and purple potato was first recorded in Tasmania in 1944. The waxy yellow flesh is ideal mashed or boiled as ‘new’ potatoes.

Nicola – Rich, sweet, yellow flesh tastes as if it was already buttered. Ideal for mashing, baking and slicing. Yield: 700g/plant.

Dutch Cream – Delicious Dutch bred potato with exceptionally creamy-yellow flesh that is perfect plain boiled with a little salt. Bake whole for tasty torpedoes to top with cheese and chives – a meal by itself!

White fleshed potatoes

Brownell – An Australian selection from the 1881 American potato ‘Adirondack’. Its pink-brown skin hides firm white flesh best for boiling as ‘new’ potatoes or mashing when older. Stores for up to 4 months!

Bison – One of the favourites in our taste tests with cherry red skin and deliciously smooth, dense, white flesh. Perfect for baking or boiling and makes the tastiest of potato salads.

Toolangi Delight – Australian bred. The chef’s favourite for gnocchi with rich purple skin and brilliant white flesh. Also one of the best for chips and mashing.

Seed potatoes, grown in certified virus free soil, can be bought from around the end of June/mid July from most nurseries or you can order the above varieties AND MORE, online from The Diggers Club now to be sure you don’t miss out! 

**This blog post is an edited excerpt from The Diggers Club**

 

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