How to grow potatoes


If you are longing to plant your vegies now, but the soil still feels cold when you sit on it, satisfy your gardening longings by planting out some spuds.

Potatoes can be planted when the soil is still cold, as long as the soil isn’t frozen solid — if it is the potatoes will rot. And a home-grown potato is as deliciously different from a commercial one as a home-grown tomato is from a supermarket special.

When to sow

Tropical areas: Late February to September (in hot areas avoid growing spuds in the wet season).

Subtropical: Late January to September.

Temperate: July, August and September; then late January to February.

Cool: August through to December, though you may get away with a January crop.

Shoots emerge: Anywhere from six days to two months, depending on the time of year and the variety of the potato.

Days to maturity: 16-20 weeks, depending on variety and time of year; but you can bandicoot spuds from about four to six weeks on.

How to grow

You get potatoes by planting another potato — a seed potato — or a piece of potato with an ‘eye’ and letting it grow into a potato bush. The potatoes grow underneath — lovely fat tubers on the roots.

Dig the garden bed deeply. Now spread either hen manure or blood and bone — spuds need a fair amount of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen or you’ll get all leaf and no spud. Plant the potatoes about a hand span deep so it remains covered by soil. You’ll get a larger crop this way as more roots will form from the stem — and the more root, the more potatoes. It also helps stop potato moth from burrowing down.

You can also mulch potatoes with leaves or lucerne hay or well-dried lawn clippings instead of soil. This gives better results.

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