Here is everything I know about growing potatoes:
- Different varieties are good for different kinds of eating e.g. mashing, boiling. If you're buying seed potatoes from a garden centre, the labelling should let you know the variety. Potatoes can be planted throughout spring and summer.
- If you 'chit' your seed potatoes before you plant them, you'll end up with a better crop. Chitting is where you give your seed potatoes a bit of sun exposure to generate sprouting from your tuber. Put your seed potatoes in a sunny spot (I line mine up on my back porch window ledge) until you get shoots (sturdy green and pink shoots, not the spindly white kind).
- If you're planting your taters in the ground, dig a big hole (say 30 - 40cms deep) and add a bit of compost then put in your seed potatoes, about 10 cms apart. Cover with compost, mixed with soil. The compost will give the plants the nutrients they need to generate potatoes.
- If you don't have enough room in your garden to plant in the ground, you can plant in bags or use old tyres. The ones below I picked up from a garage where the owners were more than happy to have someone take old tyres off their hands, free of charge. To grow taters in tyres put down your first tyre and add some compost. Put your seed potatoes on top (they can be a bit close, about 5cms apart) and add another tyre then layer compost and soil on top. When the green shoots grow tall enough to poke out the top of your second tyre, add a third tyre and cover with more soil and compost. This will encourage a second layer of potatoes to grow out of the sides of your existing plants! About three tyres tall as as much as you can hope for.
- Ironically, though sun will give your seed potatoes a good start, you definitely don't want sun exposure on your potatoes as they form or they will end up green and poisonous. Make sure your gremlin potatoes aren't exposed to bright lights.
- Potatoes take about 3 months to grow. The top of the plants will bloom with white flowers and then will die back. When your flowers have wilted, you know they're ready to dig up.