Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The Food Stable of the Table

Two more months of winter to go... I'm itching to getting the garden ready for this years harvest! Last week we received our Diggers club seed Catalogue. Which got me thinking about what we want to grow in the coming season. Last year, we were a bit slow getting started and some of the seeds that we purchased arrived mid spring and didn't seed until summer, buy which time it was a little late to get a big harvest for our tomatoes and Caps, and eggplants, they really need the whole spring and summer for produce a good harvest. So having learnt my lesson from last year, I want to be on the ball this year.

So while flicking through the Catalogue I can across potatoes. For us it's a staple at our family table, not every night but at least once a week, and can be used in so many ways, mashed (of course), Baked, soups, Quiches, Casserole and many, many, more ways. SO that got me thinking, how many potatoes do we need for the whole year!

Well after some simple calculations we worked out that we will probably go through about 120kg of Potatoes, that's 10kg month. So the next questions was, can we grow that much?, and how many seed potatoes do we for that?

The Diggers Club, some years ago did a trail to see on average how many potatoes are harvested for 8 Tubers (seed potatoes) of 8 different varieties.
There Findings:
King Edward 11.86kg
Dutch Cream 14.14kg
Desiree 10.8kg
Spunta 13.2kg
Kipfler 5.81kg
Bintje 8.93kg
Pink Eye 11.6kg
Nicola 5.9kg

So each different variety has it's different benefits, some of good for salads, others for baking, and others more for mashing, and some a mix of all. Also they each have a slightly different nutrients available for the eater.

so on average each variety listed would give us the 10kg for a month that we want from 8 seeds. Do we have that much space? Well yes! but I don't really want to take up the whole garden bed growing potatoes.

However potatoes are the perfect veg's to grow in containers! So here's what I have figured. I can Grow 12 different varieties or more if we like in Large containers, which the children can paint and place the pots around the garden as decorations. Making our garden interesting to look at and at the same time, growing what we need, and not taking up the garden space.

So what varieties are we going to grow? Well while I got the idea from Diggers, being in Tasmania, with all the quarantine laws, can't actually buy seed potatoes from them. But The Lost Seed company can sell to us,

So Have really enjoyed looking through all the different variety's that I can choose from. Plus I really like the unusual, and have this sense of adventure about trying new things, so we are planning to try all 19 different varieties that they have to offer. For me I see it as an investment, because we get the chance to see what grows well for us, and what we enjoy eating, plus, if we collect our own seed potatoes from them we don't need to buy them again, in the years to come.

Why Bother?
You might say "Why bother?", "That seems like a lot of effort for Potatoes, that don't cost me that much anyway?"

Very True potatoes can be brought, just about anywhere very Cheaply. However Commercially grown Potatoes are drenched in chemicals. While they are growing, and then again when they are harvested. Potatoes like onions and Garlic, after a while will sprout ready to grow and reproduce itself, to stop this happening and getting as much longevity out of there product they are sprayed with Growth retardant. Now those of us with children, babies, including anyone we love, don't want to be feeding them chemicals that retard there growth. Yes some of that comes off when you peel the potato, but just think how long has the potato been sitting with it on it's skin? and just how long the has it been sitting in storage before it has gotten to you? You don't know because it's nature sights of showing it's old have been "Retarded".

So for me I See growing me own, the best that "I" can provide for my family. Now that maybe not be something that you can do for your family, so what then. Well the next best thing is to buy from someone you know, Or a small producer that sell at farmers markets, where you can ask the questions about what they have use to grow them and the like.

Growing Your Own. How Too!

Potatoes are really very easy to grow. Last year we used the no dig method of laying newspaper down, over the weeds and Grass, watering it down, and then a thin layer of straw, then simply placing our seed potatoes on top, then covering them with compost/soil mix. Then as they grow, "Hill" them up, which simple means adding more soil around the plant, the more you do the more potatoes you can grow. Water regularly and harvest when the flowers have died.

So this year we are growing in Containers. Several ways you can go, with the container. So far the cheapest that we can find to buy are at Bunnings, 13.00 for each pot, same pots I'm using for my fruit trees. Other wise you can use pretty much any container, just make sure that it has enough drainage. Potatoes are not fussy about soil types but really like good drainage.

So once you have your pot, and your seed Potatoes (you want to buy good quality seeds to start with), You ready to begin. Simply put some dirt/compost in the bottom of your container, only about a finger deep, then place you seed potatoes on top, cover with more soil, water and wait for them to grow. Once the sprouts start coming up add more soil, you need to leave some of the top leaves above the soil. As they grow keep adding until you fill the whole container with soil. Then Continue to water regularly, and enjoy the flowers! (they show that the plants are working on growing big potatoes) Once the flowers have died down you are ready for a treasure hunt! This is the fun part, our children really love getting in the dirt and seeing what they can find and discovering what you have grown! Treasure Hunt!

Some special Notes: While potatoes are not fussy about there soil, they will grow bigger, if you use good quality compost in your soil mix. Also when growing in pots it can be good idea to add a few worms to your pot, to help with aeration of the soil. Crop rotation is important with potatoes, you shouldn't grow them in the same soil for three years.

So on a positive note I will leave you with a recipe that we enjoy!
Jacket Potatoes!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! I am definitely growing potatoes in my new garden then!!