Growing Potatoes



Latest Update 27th August 2017.

Potatoes
  • Potatoes are a staple crop in our household, and we can usually grow enough to last 6 months in our limited space.
  • I prepare the potato bed with lots of compost and mulch prior to planting the seed potatoes.
  • I usually take delivery of certified seed potatoes in mid June, and after chitting them for about 6 weeks, I plant them.  The weather starts to improve by then, and damaging frosts are usually gone by September when the tender shoots start to emerge from the soil.
  • We harvest a few new potatoes as soon as their flowers set in early November.  They are delicious when steamed, mashed or baked in their jackets.
  • If you delay harvesting the main crop until the foliage has died back completely the tubers store longer.


Details.
  • Binomial Name:                                        Solanum tuberosum. 
  • Family:                                                    Solanaceae.
  • Variety:                                                    Nicola. 
  • Crop rotation group:                                  Solanaceae. 
  • Garden bed type:                                      Garden Ecobed.
  • Recommended soil pH:                             4.5 - 6.0. 
  • Minimum sun per day:                               6 hours.
  • Plant spacings (centres x rows):                250 x 300 mm.
  • Weeks to harvest:                                    15 - 20 weeks.
  • Good companions:                                    Pea, bean, cabbage, nasturtium, marigold.
  • Climate:                                                   Warm temperate.
  • Geography:                                              Southern hemisphere. 
Nutrition.
  • This food is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. 
  • It is a good source of dietary fibre, and a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, copper and manganese.
  • More from nutrition data.self.com. 
Maintaining Ecobed Productivity. 

  • Check out my blogpage which explains how I maintain productivity in my Ecobeds.  It describes how soil is prepared prior to planting, the importance of rainwater in Ecobeds, how to regulate the sun's intensity and how to feed plants through their leaves.
Propagating Seedlings. 

  • Check out my blogpage which explains how I propagate seeds.
Propagation Plan.

  • Check out my blogpage which tells you when to sow seeds.
Growing Instructions.
  • Purchase your seed potatoes in May for deliver in mid June.  Use a certified organic supplier to avoid disease (buy 48 tubers).
  • To get earlier growth you should "chit" them by placing them (eyes up) in a warm spot with plenty of indirect light for about 6 weeks.
  • After a few weeks they will send out new shoots.  
  • Reduce to 3 or 4 shoots to grow larger potatoes, but leave them to produce more shoots if you're happy with smaller ones. 
  • Dig planting holes through the mulch in late August, 250mm apart (6 tubers) along rows 300mm apart (8 rows).
  • Sow the seed potatoes 150mm deep and cover them with about 50mm of soil.  Make sure the shoots are facing upwards and take care not to damage them.
  • Backfill gradually with soil as the shoots grow, but make sure the growing tips are never completely covered.
  • The soil must be kept moist during this stage, but can be left to dry out when the plants begin to die back (don't let the Ecobed's water tank empty, but keep the water level low during this stage of growth).  The plants draw back nutrients and moisture from the leaves for use in their tubers.
Harvesting and Storage.
  • Young potato tubers are delicious and well worth sacrificing some of the main crop harvesting them early.  
  • Harvest these "New Potatoes" as soon as flowers appear by digging up a whole plant.  Use all of the tubers before harvesting the next plant.
  • Harvest the main crop for storage 2 weeks after the foliage dies back (usually in late January).
  • Use a hand trowel to harvest your main crop.  Push the trowel into the soil at an angle so that it is below the clump of Potatoes and lift the whole clump.  Take care with the trowel as you don't want to disturb the water tank's cover or perforate the liner.
  • Wash the tubers and leave them in the open air to dry.  Don't leave them in hot sun too long as they can be damaged.
  • Store your Potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place in a hessian sack or cardboard box.  Note** They will rot if they are not perfectly dry.
  • Check on them from time to time, and remove any tubers starting to rot.  
  • After a few months the remainder of your crop may start to sprout.  It is worth going through your stored Potatoes at this stage to rub out these new shoots.  This will prolong the storage life of your crop.
  • Alternatively you can preserve (pressure cook) potatoes in a saline solution for longer term storage in preserving jars (see article).
Organic Pest Control.
  • Potatoes, like most vegetables, are vulnerable to attack from certain pests in my garden.  My blog on "Controlling Garden Pests" explains a little about these pests and what to do to protect plants from them.  For details click on the appropriate link below.
  • Slugs and snails. 
  • Greenhouse Whitefly. 
  • Root knot nematode.