Nothing beats the taste of home grown vegetables, the sense of satisfaction you get from digging them fresh out of your garden is something to look forward to and worthwhile to show children that vegetables are not just brought at the supermarket. They will be tastier and cheaper too!! Potatoes are not hard to grow, so why not give them a try.
The best way to start is to purchase a bag of Seed Potatoes from your local Nursery. Here in Perth, they become available in Autumn. Other areas of Western Australia will have different growing times. Each year Nurseries are supplied with certain varieties, according to availability from the farmers and only some varieties are available as seed potatoes for sale in our domestic market. Other varieties are for export and grown commercially. These restrictions are administered by the Potato Marketing Corporation in WA. So that means that some of the types you see for sale in Supermarkets or Fruit and Vege markets are not available to the home gardener to grow. There are over 60 varieties grown around Australia but here in WA we are regulated and you will find these varieties are the main types available…….Delaware, Desiree, Eureka, Kestrel, Kipfler, Mondial, Nadine, Royal Blue, Ruby Lou, Spunta and Foxton . Every year though these may change. People have used commercially grown potatoes at home but there is a risk as the certified seed potatoes are free of diseases and produce a healthier, larger crop. Also for best results, rotate your crop area frequently.
Traditionally, potatoes are planted in the ground, but if you don’t have a lot of room, you can try growing some in Bags, Pots, Straw planting or Tyres. In 5-6 weeks you can harvest baby spuds or 3-4 months full-sized. To start off you will need your Seed Potatoes, Potato E Manure, Sharp knife, Mulch and Garden Fork or trowel.
Step 1 … Using a sharp knife, cut seed potatoes into pieces with at least 2 eyes (sprouts) on each piece. Small seed potatoes can be planted whole. Its recommended the cut seed should be placed in a wet bag and left for 24 hours before planting out.
Step 2 … Dig a trench about 10- 20 cm or 6-8 inches deep, mix in Sheep manure or Blood and Bone and sprinkle Potato E Manure over
Step 3 … Place the pieces into the trench in rows spaced about 45 cm apart away from any fertiliser and back fill with soil. Mulch well and water in.
Step 4 … As the green shoots appear out of the ground around 25 cm high ,heap soil against the stems, leaving 10 cm of the stem exposed. Keep giving Potato E manure every month.
Step 5 … Once the potato plant has flowered you can dig the baby potatoes up or you can wait until the foliage has yellowed and died back then you can harvest larger tubers. Dig out carefully with a garden fork, to ease them out you can gently move from side to side to loosen soil.
TIPS … Potato patches need to get the full sun. Give them a good soaking every 3-4 days through till they flower then every 2nd day. After leaves yellow water twice weekly. Slugs and snails may hang around so it might pay to put pellets around or manually pick them up and away from the crop. Rotate potato crops every season so they are not growing in the same spot to curb any diseases taking hold. If growing in a tyre, fill just below the rim with soil and when the stems grow out add another tyre on top and continue to mound throughout the growing season. Water well and use a good quality Potting mix enriched with Compost.
… Delaware Is the main variety grown in WA. Large oval tubers, Cream colour skin and White flesh. Good for Roasting, Boiling & Baking.
… Desiree Has medium smooth tubers, long and oval shaped, Red/Pink coloured outer skin and Yellowish coloured flesh inside.
… Eureka Is oval in shape with Cream skin and White flesh. Good to use for Mashing, Chips or Roasting.
… Foxton Has an oval shape with Pink skin and light Yellow flesh. Good all round performer, good in Salads and fried.
… Kestrel Is long and oval in shape, has White skin with blue eyes, Cream flesh. Good for Mashing, Boiling, Roasting and Frying.
… Kipfler Has an elongated cigar shape, Pale yellow skin and Yellow waxy flesh. Used for Baking, Boiling and Salads.
… Mondial Is oval shaped with Pale yellow skin and flesh. Used in Salads, Mashing and Roasting.
… Nadine Has a short oval shape, Cream coloured skin and White flesh. Used in salads and Boiling, not so good for frying. High yielding.
… Royal Blue Has a long, flat, oval shape, Purple/Blue colourd skin and Yellow/Golden flesh. Good all round performer.
… Ruby Lou Has an oval shape with dark Pink skin and White flesh inside. Good to Roast, Boil and Fry.
… Spunta Is a large, new Dutch variety. Its tubers are long and it has Pale yellow skin and flesh. Not so good to fry.