Planting our chitted potatoes
- Six weeks ago we showed you how to chit potatoes. See here for how to prepare your seed potatoes. Now they’re ready to plant in the ground. They have several eyes on them and even roots.
- Many people cut their seed potatoes so there’s only one eye on each piece that gets planted, but in warmer climates it’s best to plant the whole seed potato in the ground to avoid rotting.
- Prepare your garden bed by adding compost. This provides good drainage and keeps the soil moist. It also makes soil more acidic as potatoes like a pH of between 5.2 and 6.0. If soil is alkaline potatoes are at risk of developing a disease called ‘scab’.
- Trench your garden bed to a depth of 20-30cms.
- Avoid any fertiliser that is high in nitrogen because nitrogen promotes leafy growth at the expense of the root. Potassium and phosphorus are the nutrients potatoes need.
- Comfrey is high in potassium and phosphorus and lining your trench with comfrey leaves can almost double your crop of potatoes. Instead of comfrey leaves you can apply Rob’s summer liquid fertiliser at the time of planting. See here for how to make it.
- Make sure you chop the bottom of the comfrey stalks off to prevent the leaves from rooting in the trench.
- Place chitted potatoes, eyes up, in the trench about 30cms apart. Sprinkle them with volcanic rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser) then cover with soil until just above the top of the seed potatoes. As the potatoes grow, leaves will shoot out of the soil. At that point cover them with more soil, effectively mounding them up as you go. Eighty per cent of the potato harvest is grown above the seed potato so the more you mound them up the more potatoes you’re going to harvest.
- Water in if your soil is dry.
- You’ll be able to harvest baby potatoes for Christmas and larger ones any time from early to mid-January.
Planting out our potted-up kumara shoots
- We prepared our kumara for sprouting 6 weeks ago and potted up our plants two weeks ago, and now they’re ready for planting in the ground. You can buy bundles of kumara slips from garden centres at this time of year if you haven’t prepared your own.
- Kumara likes the same conditions for planting as potatoes – a slightly acidic soil and a fertiliser high in phosphorus and potassium.
- There’s no need to trench for kumara. Simply dig holes about 50cms apart for the kumara plants.
- Once planted apply a good dose of volcanic rock dust around the plants and water in.
- The sprouts will spread extensively and it’s important to cut them back to encourage growth below the ground. The sprouts are edible and a tasty addition to stir-fries or simply steamed.
- Kumara is basically maintenance-free. It’ll be ready for harvesting at the end of February through to mid-March, and will store well once harvested.
Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes