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POTATO GROWING INFORMATION
© Frances Michaels
BOTANICAL NAME: Solanum tuberosum
Spuds; taters; patata (Spanish); patat (Italian);
pomme de terre (French); aardappel (Dutch); ziemniaki (Polish); alu (Hindi, Nepali, Bengali);
kentang (Malay, Indonesian)
Solanaceae, the tomato family
Potatoes like a fertile, deeply dug, moist, acidic soil with a pH of less than 6. They do not grow well
in heavy clay or a limed soil, which promotes potato scab. To avoid this, always rotate your potato patch
each year. Many older varieties of potatoes have lost favour commercially because of either deep eyes or
an irregular shape but may have many advantages to the home grower in hardiness, disease resistance and
potatoes are a staple, many heritage potatoes have a superb flavour
whether used as an 'old' potato and baked or used as a 'new' potato and steamed or mashed.
Recommended planting time:
Potatoes can be grown in many months of the year,
depending on whether the garden receives frost, as potatoes are frost-tender. Potatoes need 60-90 days
frost-free to be successfully harvested; potatoes harvested early as ‘new’ potatoes do not
store well. In northern NSW and QLD one of the best planting times is March-April, as the soil is warm,
growth is rapid and there are generally less pests. For frosty areas, potatoes can be planted in early
spring, shortly before the last expected frost. Planting can continue into summer although the risk of pest
and disease damage increases as the weather becomes hotter, particularly in humid areas. Green Harvest
offers certified seed potatoes in March-April and July-August.
there are many different ways to plant. These include:
containers, tyres, no-dig, deep mulch and traditional hilling. All these methods have been proven successful
and potatoes are an easy crop to grow. The method you choose should suit your garden area and style. For
details on these techniques search the web or look in any vegetable gardening book.
plant the seed potatoes 13 cm deep and then cover with a
mulch 25-30 cm deep. Cutting into smaller pieces can increase the risk of rot in humid areas. If you do cut
into smaller pieces, leave plenty of flesh with each eye and allow the cuts to dry for 24 hours before
planting. Cutting into too small a piece can dramatically reduce yield.
space the tubers 30-35 cm apart.
Potatoes are ready for harvesting when the majority of the tops have withered; this can be from 12 to 20
weeks after planting, depending on the variety. Early potatoes may be dug for table use at any time but
for storage the potatoes should be fully mature. After they are dug, dry as quickly as possible, and then
store immediately in a cool, dark, dry place. Exposure to light will turn the potatoes green; green potatoes
are poisonous and should not be eaten. It is usually possible to save some of the harvest from a crop of
certified seed potatoes for replanting. Doing this more than once can dramatically increase the risk of
disease. Potato diseases can take years to eradicate from a garden.