I occasionally buy Organic Gardener magazine. There is an article by Peter Cundall in this months issue about growing beans, carrots, and pivotally for this post, potatoes. I love Peter Cundall – he is definitely one of my heroes. For anyone unfamiliar with him, Peter Cundall is 84, a former host of the TV show Gardening Australia, and a political activist with a long history of campaigning on environmental issues. Currently his highest profile campaign is against the Gunns pulp mill in the Tamar Valley in Tasmania. He also writes interesting articles about growing potatoes in the Organic Gardner magazine.
Anyway one of the methods he espouses in the article involves converting part of your lawn into a potato patch and I had just persuaded my partner that I NEEDED more growing area so……
He recommends mowing the grass hard, I did this but I also pulled up as much of the top layer of grass as I could – we have a particularly invasive type of couch grass and I wanted to make sure it didn’t just grow up through the potato mulch. You then place the seed potatoes on top of the soil/cut grass.
I planted Dutch Cream, Pink Fir Apple & Kipfler at about 30cm intervals. Straw is then laid on top of the potatoes. I don’t think I managed quite the recommended 50cm but I can always build it up a bit after the plants come up .
This mulch should then be weighed down with a 20cm layer of sheep or cow manure followed by another 5cm of chook poo. I managed about 5cm of manure before running out of bags but as with the straw I reckon I can always add more later. The final stage is to give it a good watering in. For this I employed my 23 month old as watering has a large novelty value for him thus he had the patience to stand there for long enough for the water to permeate all that mulch.
Apparently when the potatoes are ready for harvest all you need to do is lift the mulch layer and there they are. Sounds fabulous and also a good way of getting some organic matter into this new bed as I plan to dig this lot in once the spuds have finished. Hopefully this will all result a fine crop and yet another reason to love Peter Cundall.
P.S: In a moment of serendipity Bowerbird Blue also wrote of her love for Peter Cundall last night and she too is trialling this potato growing method. For more potato and Peter Cundall love visit Bowerbird Blue immediately.