You really do reap what you sow. Photo - Cultura/BRETT STEVENS/Gettyimages.com
The ultimate comfort food starts here, with plans for a potato patch.
Honestly, there is nothing like the flavour of freshly dug potatoes.
We do occasionally shift ourselves from simple steamed spuds with salt and butter and have found these to be our favourite varieties: ‘Bingi’ for chips; ‘Nicola’ for mash; ‘Pinkeye’ and ‘Kipfler’ for salad; and ‘King Edward for roast.
1.Prepare a potato bed. Potatoes like a light, fluffy, well-drained soil with plenty of well-rotted cow manure and blood and bone. Where space is tight, grow potatoes in a stack made from chicken mesh tied to star-pickets in the shape and size of a vertical column of car-tyres. Layer compost, soil, and straw.
2.Order virus-free seed potatoes.
3.Place seed potatoes into an egg carton to ‘chit’ (sprout).
1.Plant, sprout-side up, 20cm apart along a 20cm deep furrow. Cover with 10cm of soil. If using tyres, plant into the first tyre, then add layers as the potatoes grow.
2.In mid-spring shoots will appear and it’s time to ‘hill’ the soil around the new leaves with a hoe. ‘Hilling’ simply means to build up the soil around the base of the plant. This encourages more roots and thus more potatoes and also protects tubers from insects and too much light, which turns them green and poisonous.
3.Apply water to the channel between the rows, not overhead. There is no need to feed.
1.Liquid feed during growth period monthly.
2.Flowering is the signal to start ‘bandicooting’ - digging for new ‘baby’ potatoes around the outside of the plants. Once the leaves have turned yellow and died-off, get a fork well under the potatoes and dig up as many as you need. One seed potato will yield a minimum of 10-50 potatoes, depending on our much food and water they have received.
3.Forgotten tubers will grow through summer and you can dig them up through autumn and into winter.
Where to buy: Potatoes are vulnerable to pests and diseases so it's important to buy certified pest and disease-free seed. Look for Mr Fothergill potato varietes at your local nursery, or mail order from Diggers Club, www.diggers.com.au
Text: Linda Ross