How to Grow Potatoes

1st chit away.

Chitting (Sprouting) Potatoes gives your potatoes a head start before they go into the ground. To chit, put them eyes up in an egg carton or tray. Put them in a light frost free place (8-10c) not in direct sunlight. On the other hand if your sprouts are pale and long then they are not getting enough light. Once your potatoes have three good sized sprouts then it’s time to plant them. For larger potatoes in your crop reduce your number of sprouts to three. Some people do not chit at all, resulting in a longer wait till harvest time, which isn’t always a bad thing.

veg_potato_chitted

Planting Potatoes in the Ground
  • Plant in a site in full sun (at least 6 hours a day). Avoid soil where potatoes or tomatoes have been grown before to avoid disease like blight.
  • Add lots of compost and well-rotted manure. A slightly acidic soil is preferable and will deter potato scab. If needed add sulphur to make soil more acidic. Use a PH tester to be sure.
  • Dig rows to a depth of about 10cm and place seed potatoes in trench with sprouts facing up.
  • It is important to ‘earth up’ as shoots emerge to protect from frost
  • If you decide to fertilise use a potato fertiliser that is high in potassium and potash. Other fertilisers will be too high in nitrogen producing too much vegetation. Or feed with a fish fertiliser.
Crop Type Planting Time Distance in row Distance of rows Harvest time
1st Early End of August 30cm 60cm 10wks
2nd Early Mid September 37cm 75cm 13wks
Maincrop Late Sept/Oct 45cm 75cm 20wks

*These dates are approximates and may change with the weather. If it’s still cold and frosty plant out later. Bearing in mind the Wakatipu can get frosts till the end of October.

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Planting in containers
  • 1st Earlies and 2nd Earlies can be planted in containers. 3rd Earlies take up too much space, needing to spread their roots in the ground.
  • Position your planter in full sun.
  • A taller planter works best, one that’s at least 50cm tall.
  • Put a layer of good quality compost in the bottom of the container. Then put your potatoes in about 30cm apart.
  • Cover with about 10cm of compost, keep the soil damp but not wet, you don’t want the potatoes to rot before they get going.
  • As shoots grow up, cover them with more compost, or you can mix compost with straw and manure. The medium needs to be fairly light for the potato shoots to push through.
  • When you have lot’s of growth on your potatoes make sure you keep them well watered.

Potatoes

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