Saturday, March 23, 2013

Another Attempt at Spuds

I’ve had mixed results with growing potatoes so far. Last years result was very disappointing. So this year I was determined to succeed. By that I mean I wanted to grow bigger tubers and at least enough to feed us for a few weeks if possible.

So I put a lot of effort into preparing the soil well, using compost from my own bin that was ready to use plus a bit of the bagged stuff from Bunnings. I made sure to add a few handfuls of potato fertiliser to each row which I mixed into the soil. This time I decided not to bother buying certified seed potatoes as I normally do. I just used the remains of a bag of spuds we had which had started sprouting shoots.(This was the way my father showed me when I was a youngster and it always worked well for him.)

So as usual I planted around labour weekend (25 October). I put in 3 rows of about 6 or 7 plants. The above picture shows them just before Christmas. By then they looked to be doing pretty well.

I planted the sprouting tubers deep in the soil, with a light layer of soil barely covering them. Then as the plants emerged from the soil I mounded up the soil around them. I kept piling up the soil around each plant until the soil level rose well above the original level of the garden. I made sure I watered them regularly to get them established properly.

As anyone in NZ will tell you, the whole country this year has experienced drought conditions. Even now in March, it has barely rained since December so I had to do a lot of hand watering. This I especially concentrated on after flowering as this is when the tubers would begin to form having been pollenated by bees. Each time I watered them I made sure they got a good soaking, plus every three weeks or so I gave them a side dressing of potato fertiliser.

I think understanding this aspect of the potato's growth cycle helped me to appreciate what I was actually doing.

So after all that effort you can imagine my satisfaction when finally I saw the results...

I am very pleased with the results. Izumi made a nice curry using all the small ones first – she kept them whole with their skins on and added them to the stew.


  1. You did better than I ever could with potatoes.
    Years ago, I planted about 1/2 acre field of them. It was so dry that year, I couldn't get them to grow. The next year, I though I'd be better prepared, so I bought pump & hose to pump water up from creek behind property. That year everthing flooded. So now, we only have 'small' garden. I get the ground ready and advise wife on planting, then she is able to care for it. She like lots of tomatoes, even for breakfast when we eat out.

  2. There's been a lot of trial and error in my garden so it's good when something finally works out. It's always after small successes like this that I wish I'd planted more. I can't imagine growing 1/2 an acre of them without some kind of machinery though. Preparing the soil can be back-breaking work.

  3. Looks like a nice crop of spuds Dave. We had a poor crop this season with only small to average size & low quantity. I think mostly due to moving house & it was a fresh garden dug up from lawn & only had time to get one batch of compost into it. At the last place we would get enough from 10 plants to see us right through Winter. The 1st one I dug up only had 1 potato on it. In the last house someone suggested superphosphate. I don't like using chemical fertiliser but I gave it a try & the spuds were humongous & so many of them. We had a supply for the whole winter & still gave heaps away to bros & sis