Dig the joy of growing potatoes

Gardening with QT columnist Chelsea Van Rijn.
Gardening with QT columnist Chelsea Van Rijn. Sarah Harvey
SO MANY CHOICES. Chelsea van Rijn displays an assortment of seed potatoes.
SO MANY CHOICES. Chelsea van Rijn displays an assortment of seed potatoes. Contributed

SEED potatoes have just arrived at Trevallan Lifestyle Centre. Seed potatoes are what you use to grow potatoes and look like baby potatoes, not like bean seeds as I once thought.

Supposedly about 1kg of certified seed should produce about 10kg of potato.

The varieties of certified seed potato seem endless - Dutch cream, sebago, pontiac and desiree are just a few. There are even blue ones.

Some are good for boiling or mashing. Some are better for baking and frying.

There are even some that are perfect for microwaving. Some are all-rounders. My pop swears by sebago as being the best all rounder and easiest to grow.

I often get asked "why can't I just plant the sprouts that grow from my potatoes from the grocery store? Why do I have to use certified seed?

If using non-certified seed potatoes, the chance of having a disease outbreak is increased. Potato plants can carry many potato diseases: bacterial, viral, and fungal. And some of these are passed on through potato tubers.

Plant viral infections are persistent and can not only affect your potato plants but your neighbourhood's plants as well. All plants in the potato family can be affected, such as tomatoes, eggplants and chillies.

These diseases can also contaminate soil and make an area implantable. The risk of making my vegetable patch unusable for a number of years is not worth me using non-certified seed.

Potatoes like a sunny well-drained position. It is best to plant them in fertile soil that has not had potatoes grown in it for at least three years.

The best time to plant potatoes is two to three weeks before the last frost. The seed should have shoots of about 1cm long; this usually takes about four weeks if seed was bought in June. Large seed can be cut into two, three or four. The cut surface should dry for a couple of days before planting. My pop recommends lightly rubbing the cut surface in some old wood fire ash and leaving to dry.

The principle for growing potatoes is the same, whether you grow them in the ground or in pots.

Plant the certified seed potato in soil and as they grow and the potatoes start to show through the soil, pile more soil up around them. Potatoes form on the surface. When you pile soil on top of them continually it helps stop the potatoes from being exposed to light and going green. (Green potatoes can upset the stomach.) This process also helps produce more potatoes.

Harvest your potatoes when the lower leaves on the plants start to turn yellow. You can dig only what you need and leave the other plants to grow on.

If you want to dig and store your potatoes, cut the tops off and allow tow to three weeks before digging. Dug potatoes should be kept in a cool dark spot.

This summer why not wow your friends with home-grown blue potato salad?

Topics:  chelsea van rijn gardening opinion

SUV passenger attacks pedestrian in city assault

Police Remembrance Day march to Brown's Park in North Ipswich on Thursday.

The assault is alleged to have occurred at about 10am in Ipswich

This week's community billboard

Learn woodworking and crafting with the Ipswich Woodcrafts Club.

A daily guide to what's on in Ipswich over the next seven days

Local Partners

Workmates honour crash victim with tribute

UPDATE: Tanya Lyell is being remembered as a young mother dedicated to her family and work as the town she called home mourns its loss.

This week's community billboard

Learn woodworking and crafting with the Ipswich Woodcrafts Club.

A daily guide to what's on in Ipswich over the next seven days

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Things to do this week

Dragon play Ipswich Civic Centre on Friday October 28

What's on in Ipswich

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

REVIEW: Michael McIntyre has Brisbane in stitches

Michael McIntyre in a scene from his TV series Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

BRITISH comedian is in the country on his Happy and Glorious Tour.

Cliff Richard doesn't need Rod Stewart's help with legal bills

Sir Cliff Richard

"'Don't worry, I'm loaded. I won't keep you to it.' "

Bindi Irwin named in MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals