Winter is a good time to plant potatoes in most parts of New Zealand. In cold climates they are planted in spring (September or October). Plant ‘early’ potato varieties to grow in containers. They will be ready to eat in three months or less.
Grow a bucket of spuds
You will need:
A bucket, a bag or a barrel; any container will do, as long as the water can get out the bottom. If you choose to plant in a bucket, drill plenty of drainage holes.
Seed potatoes from your garden centre and vegetable planting mix
Place your container in a sunny, sheltered, frost-free spot outside.
Add some planting mix, up to about 10cm deep.
Place your seed potatoes on top. (One seed potato is enough for each 10L bucket, no more than 3). Cover with more planting mix (10cm deep) and water with a watering can.
Mark the date on your calendar. Your potatoes will be ready to eat 80-90 days after you plant them (the number of days depends on which variety you plant).
Water enough to keep the mix just moist, not soaking wet or your potatoes will rot!
Once you can see the green leaves growing, feed your potatoes once a month with liquid fertiliser.
When the plants reach 15cm high, add some more planting mix, leaving about 5cm of the leaves uncovered. Repeat this until the container is full.
When the number of days are up and you expect your new potatoes to be ready, gently dig with your hands to check, then tip the whole container up-side down and count your treasure!
If you feed your potato plants they’ll reward you with a bumper crop at harvest, but read the instructions on the bottle so you don’t feed them too much at a time. If the fertiliser is too strong you can damage your potatoes.
If you grow potatoes in a bag, you can roll down the sides for planting and then roll them up as you add extra layers of soil mix.
Potatoes are one of the world’s most important foods. They are packed full of healthy carbohydrates for energy. Plus they are the easiest kind of energy food to grow in your own garden.
Did you know?
A potato is a tuber, which is a fat piece of stem or root that grows underground. Other plants that grow from tubers are yams, kumara and dahlia flowers.
Tubers have eyes! These ‘eyes’ are little buds that grow into roots branches and leaves. Try putting some seed potatoes in an airy place and watch them sprout before you plant them.
What’s your favourite spud?
Not every potato is the same? They have different tastes and textures. Some grow super fast. You might pick a variety with a name you like the sound of, like ‘Rocket’,‘Swift’ or "Haylo'. Taewa (Maori potatoes) are heritage potatoes which have been grown in Aotearoa for over 200 years. They come in all sorts interesting colours and shapes.