Progress on the Potato Experiments

Melbourne’s spring seems to be the perfect climate for growing potatoes (well mine look lovely and healthy anyway!)  Previously I have posted on my Peter Cundall inspired no dig potato bed  which I planted on 5th September and my potatoes in pots which were planted at various times in August.  I thought it was about time for an update.  I am very happy to report that both lots are doing well.  (Yes I am deliberating adopting the kind of language one uses to describe a mother with a new born baby – actually I think I’m more obsessed with my potato plants growth than I was either of my childrens’…..).

No dig bed:

The photo below gives an indication of the size of the plants in my bed as of last week.  All the plants so far are at the East end of the bed.  The potatoes in the west end of the bed have only just pushed through to the surface – I suspect this is because the mulch is deeper at that end rather than anything more sinister.    Note the Pea shoots coming up from the straw layer – I will leave them in for their nitrogen value.

Pot grown potatoes

Today I put the last layer of potting mix into the pot grown potatoes.  They will need a layer of mulch over the top once they have grown a bit bigger.  I am really pleased with how they look.  I am also very glad I stuck labels on the sides of the pots as I know what each pot is.  Unlike in the main bed where stupidly I didn’t map out what I planted where.

These are my pot potatoes:

The first variety is called Cranberry Red and it does have a red tinge to the veins of its leaves making it fairly recognisable (amongst my varieties).  Unfortuantely this is the only plant I have as I only got one tuber from my dad.  Suited to salad making Cranberry Red is described as; having red flesh, an earthy buttery flavour, and a fine moist texture.  I haven’t tried it before so I am looking forward to harvesting these.

I have 3 pots of Kipfler and it is these I am trialling the different pot methods on.  Looking at the plants alone I would struggle to seperate Kipfler from Dutch Cream or Pink Fir Apple.  Kipfler is a great salad potato, yellow skinned and fleshed with a buttery taste.  I grew this variety last year and was really happy with both the flavour and yield.

Dutch Cream is a more all purpose potato being good mashed or roasted, as well as being nice in salads.

Finally Pink Fir Apple is a lovely salad potato (yes I do enjoy potato salad as my varietal choices attest), a bit knobbly it can adopt strange shapes as Mark shows in his Veg Plot.  It is more common in the UK than here but it does seem to be turning up at Farmers Markets and seed potato suppliers in Australia (in Melbourne CERES stocked the seed potatoes, but they had run out when I went last week).  The stems on the plant look a bit more delicate than the Kipflers or Dutch Cream but the foliage on all three is near identical so I think the only way I’m going to find out whats under that straw is at harvest time.  Hopefully it will be bountiful.

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6 Responses to Progress on the Potato Experiments

  1. Rick says:

    Wow your potatoes look great!! We have tried the pot potatoes before in our yard without a lot of success. I think that come from the fact that I basically ignored them like I do my main crop potatoes and I think they needed a little more attention. It’s fun to see gardens on the other side of the world. Your potatoes are just coming up and mine here in Utah just came out of the ground and into storage for the winter.

    • Liz says:

      The pots worked well for me last year so I am hoping for a similar result. I am a very diligent waterer so perhaps that helps. It will be interesting to compare them with those in the ground. I am hoping to have some for storage this year – last year I just grew a few pots so we pretty much ate them as we harvested them.

  2. Mark Willis says:

    Liz, your potato plants do look good. I’ll be especially interested to see what the Cranberry Red produces. Normally I find that pink-skinned varieties give a lower yield, but that might just be a coincidence. As Rick points out, pot-grown potatoes do need more attention – namely frequent watering – but I think it is a very space-efficient way of growing them.

    • Liz says:

      Thats interesting about the yield – the pots certainly worked well for me last year. It will be interesting to compare the different growing methods.

  3. Okay Liz, you seem to be something of a potato growing expert so I have a question for you. I was gifted four seed potatoes (can’t remember the variety) which had already started shooting in the bag when I got them. Just before planting them, Miss Two got her hands on them and pulled off all the shoots, oops should have put them up higher. I threw them in the ground anyway, hoping they would re-shoot. I planted them a couple of weeks ago and haven’t seen any above ground action yet – should I be worried? Are my potato growing days over for this year before they started? Yours look great by the way!

    • Liz says:

      Thank you – hmmmmm despite my snazzy expert exterior (I assure you its all smoke and mirrors) I’m not actually sure on this one – I think it will depend on whether they still had any eyes on them that had yet to shoot, and if she completely destroyed the shoots that were there. Mine took about 4 weeks to come up and some are only just reaching the surface now – so I wouldn’t give up just yet…..CEREs had a few seed potatoes left when I went a week or so ago so you might still be able to get some – I don’t think its too late to start now. In fact I reckon you can grow them pretty much all year round in Melbourne (provided you choose a not too hot place over summer – they don’t set tubers in hot weather).

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