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BOTANICAL NAME: Solanum tuberosum
COMMON NAMES: Spuds; taters; patata (Spanish); patat (Italian); pomme de terre (French); aardappel (Dutch); ziemniaki (Polish); alu (Hindi, Nepali, Bengali); kentang (Malay, Indonesian)
FAMILY: 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 prolific production.

Food: 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.
Planting techniques: 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.
Planting depth: 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.
Plant spacing: 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.

SORRY but due to quarantine restrictions between Australian States no plants at all can be ordered by residents of Norfolk Island, Tasmania and Western Australia. These restrictions are very important as they prevent the spread of plant pests and diseases. No potatoes, garlic, shallots, strawberries or tubestock can be sent to South Australia. No tubestock can be sent to Northern Territory.
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