Potatoes are probably the easiest thing in the world to grow.  They take no maintenance, aside from the very occassional bit of watering if it gets really dry (this summer I haven't had to water my potatoes at all).  They can be a good tool for breaking up clay soil.  And digging them up feels a bit like uncovering treasure.  Last weekend I left the fun to my husband while I took the snaps below.

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.


  1. The British make potatoes sound like the hardest thing every to grow. You have to plant them in a bag, and layer the dirt up weekly or some suck. because we don't have lovely back gardens to plane them in nice dirt I assume... My Mum just throws a couple on the ground and leaves them to it!

  2. I've thought about growing potatoes, I read an article about an easy way to grow them in buckets.

    Thanks you so much for the advice on travelling. I think I will go to Oz and save NZ for a different time. I'll email a few places about work. I've got experience as a drugs worker and a sexual health worker, so I'd love to be able to get work in that area, but I'm not sure if that'd be too hard. I've heard of Airbnb and WWOOF before and I will look into it. Do you need a work visa to work on an WWOOF farm in USA? And what does flatting mean?

    How come is safety such an issue in NZ? It's not something I would have thought! Sorry about all the questions!! Just because you are knowledgable!

  3. Dianne - Even in NZ, if you don't have good soil you have to pfaff a bit with compost. If you have dense clay and don't extract enough to put loose soil/compost around your spuds, then the clay compacts them too much to grow. Your mum must have great earth to work with.

    Zoe - yes bucket and black plastic bags work, as long as the seed potatoes aren't exposed to light... You need a work visa to do any sort of work in the states (most countries actually), so yes you will need a visa. Worth looking into. Flatting is where you have flatmates and share a house with others. In the states the term is 'roomates'. I'm not sure what it is where you are. About safety in backpackers, I just meant in general and not just in NZ. I've had friends backpacking around the world and things get stolen and young women get harassed. It's a lot safer if you are backpacking with a male friend.

  4. Potatoes looks very healthy. I think topsoil is the reason behind this.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...