September 19, 2017
Now is a great time to be planting potatoes in the garden. They will emerge quickly in the Spring weather and grow strongly before it gets hot in the middle of Summer. Last year, before the farm, I made the mistake of planting potatoes into my home garden in the middle of December. They succumbed to pests fairly quickly as they were so stressed trying to get established in the hot humid Sydney Summer. You can however, also grow potatoes successfully in Autumn. Just plant them in late February and choose faster maturing varieties, particularly if you get frost.
I have ordered potatoes online from a specialist potato company to get access to the many varieties I want to trial. There are 12 different ones going in the ground this week so that I can compare how well they grow and refine the list for next year. I have a variety of colours, different storage types – long and short term – and potatoes that are good for different types of cooking. I will keep careful records to assess which ones grow and yield best. Starting with large signs for easy and instant identification of the variety in the field, I will also add to my online records. I use a program called Evernote which is compatible across my laptop and my phone so I can instantly record my planting and seeding at the farm, what soil amendments have been added, other notes about a crop and most importantly the yield from a bed. This information will hopefully make me a better grower each year.
If you want to grow potatoes at home it’s worth going to your local nursery and checking out the different varieties available. You can also try online companies. They are a fun and easy crop for kids to have a go at. Just dig a trench and plant them about 10cm deep. As they grow, continue to hill them up with composts, organic fertilisers or aged manures and straw. Just leave the growing tip exposed each time, covering the lower leaves. All the new potatoes will grow above the one you planted which is why the hilling is so important. Keep them well-watered until they begin to die back 3-4 months later and then use a garden fork to carefully unearth your bounty.
So, look forward to some potatoes from the farm in 3 or 4 months time, and if I get the storage conditions right, for many months after that.
Yours in veg,