Grow your own: spuds

G Magazine

Get growing in the cooler months with prolific potatoes.


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For parts of Australia not prone to frost, this time of year can be a great time for potato planting (for those who get frost, wait and plant in spring). Harvest time varies from three to five months, depending on the type of potato, and begin with certified seed potatoes. Try one of these methods when planting.

• Ground:

For this growing method, you’ll need to dig a good 25-20 cm into the soil, removing any foreign matter as you go. Nourish the soil with heavily rotted compost and manure, and leave to settle for 3-4 weeks. When the time comes for planting, dig a trench about spade depth, placing the certified seed potatoes about 30 cm apart with the shoot skyward. Spread fertilizer and backfill with soil.

• Container:

Potatoes can be grown in all sorts of containers, from double hessian bags, drums, foam vegetable boxes to wire potato cages (avoid old tyres as they can leach chemicals). To simply grow potatoes in hessian bags, place one bag inside another, rolling the sides down so that the seed potato has 15 cm of soil below and above it after sowing. As the plant grows, gradually unroll the sides and add more potting mix. You can also try the no dig method (right) in bags and containers.

• No dig:

This is another good option for the space poor. Begin with a base of wet newspaper on the ground to stop weeds, topped by Lucerne hay or pea-straw. Top with composted manure such as chicken manure, followed by another layer of straw and then manure again. Water each layer lightly as you go. Top with 10 cm of good compost and finish with a layer of straw. Make holes in the straw and compost to plant the seed potatoes into.