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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Potatoes

The exciting and frustrating part about gardening for me is that I never really know if what I'm doing is right.  I planted some potatoes a couple of weeks ago.  I looked up how to do this on a few internet sites and decided to have a go at growing them in a no dig garden.

My nana used to grow potatoes.  She had a rambling big block in the outer suburbs and I remember as a kid visiting her and getting a tour of the garden.  It was a bit of a scrubby mess from what I recall but I know she'd potter around for hours and she loved it.  I remember her digging up some potatoes one day and showing me how she grew them.  I was only a kid but I thought she said she just chucked her potato peel in the ground under a fruit tree and potatoes would appear - but that can't be right can it?  Must have been potatoes not peel!

Anyway, I tend to go in for a bit of research before I try something new and then get confused when I'm told contradictory things.  And growing potatoes does seem to be a tad tricky.  But I printed off some instructions (can't trust my memory with something new), propped them under a brick and made a start.  Finding an appropriate bit of chicken wire took a bit of time.  (Will Monkey Man need this wire?  I'm too lazy to cut this big bit - is this bit big enough?).  Can't be tyres (even though we have a couple hanging around) toxic chemicals might leech out.  Found a good enough bit of chicken wire and made a cylinder.  Put down a thick, damp layer of newspapers and popped the potatoes on top.  Best to buy seed potatoes - better results, less likely disease.  Followed this with straw, (not hay, hay has seeds apparently).  Now, then I was supposed to pop on some compost - but I never have compost when I need it - why when we've got two compost bins and a worm farm?!  Although I did have a bag of mushroom compost which I used and then some more manure.  And topped it all off with another thick layer of straw.    Once they were all buried and done I went back inside and had another look at a few sites and realised I probably planted too many too close for the small space I had.

I'd forgotten about them for a couple of weeks.  Once or twice watered them - wondering all the while am I supposed to be watering - mightn't they rot?  (Since discovered that they do indeed like to be watered.)  And surprise and excitement ... foilage!  It's working.  Now I seem to remember something about not letting them see the light and piling up more straw.  Makes sense - why else do I have this big empty cylinder.  But when do I start piling?  How much of this leaf do I cover?  Sigh.  Anyway, if anyone has the answers... advice please!

2 comments:

  1. Hi there, your gran was right. Potatoes can grow from peelings if they have eyes on them. And the best way to learn in the garden is to keep doing what your doing and have a go and keep doing what works and keep trying different things if they don't.
    As for the light and straw on your spuds. Yes keep the light off the developing spuds. You can do this with compost over the top of your straw. As for the straw, I usually put more on when they are about 30/40cm tall and again when they first flower.
    Hope this helps, Cheers

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