Lifestyle

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



Flight delays on the cards

Strike action may disrupt travel plans

Hospital emergency: Thousands clog ED with minor complaints

EMERGENCY CALL: Ipswich Hospital's emergency department has been swamped in the past 12 months by people presenting with very minor issues.

Residents need to stop presenting with only minor treatment issues

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Local Partners

Bonus point gets Dan and Carleen over the line on The Block

Dan and Carleen in their winning living and dining rooms in a scene from The Block.

BABY boomers win living and dining week as show hits halfway mark.

Olivia Wilde having a girl

Olivia Wilde revealed she is expecting a baby girl.

Michael Palin: Terry Jones dementia is 'painful' to see

Michael Palin has found Terry Jones' decline "painful to watch"

Daniel Radcliffe hoped for haircut anonymity

Radcliffe thought shaving his head would make him more anonymous

Jim Carrey slams 'shameful greed' of lawsuit

Jim Carrey has slammed the "shameful greed" of White's ex-husband.

'Highly unlikely' Brad Pitt will face prosecution

It is highly unlikely that Brad Pitt will be prosecuted

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Investors out-bid first-home buyers in booming market

Housing generic.

Ipswich's housing market is putting more cash into sellers’ pockets

Another Ripley development

THE ENTRANCE: An overview of the last planned development for the fast growing Ripley area.

85 more home lots released

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual