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Potatoes

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potatoes1-200.jpgPotatoes

Spring is the time to get your seed potatoes. By purchasing them now you should have fresh spuds for Christmas Day.

Potatoes are one of the easiest and rewarding crops to grow and with so many varieties available for gardeners everyone can grow their favourite kind.

There is nothing more satisfying than to go out into the garden to dig a few potatoes to put straight into the pot or pan.  Potatoes are high in vitamin B and C, minerals and fibre. Weight for weight potatoes are low in calories and should be included in a well balanced diet.   And with so many varieties there is one to suit everyone.

Varieties:

A wide range of varieties are available, choose a variety that matches how you like to each them.

  • Roasting. Moonlight, Agria or Rua
  • Mashing. Moonlight, Agria and Ilam Hardy
  • Boiling, new spuds Nadine, Jersey Benne, Cliffs Kidney
  • Dry soils Karaka, Swift
  • Growing in buckets or planter bags choose any early varieties, ie Cliff Kidney, Rocket

When, where and how to plant:

Potatoes can be grown in the garden or in pots, container even old car tyres. Choose a sunny position.
The first thing to do is get some certified seed potatoes from your local garden store. Don’t be tempted to go to the pantry and pull out those long lost spuds that have started growing in the depths of your kitchen. Go and get some certified Seed Potatoes.  Certification is extremely important for seed potatoes because you know the product meets strict quality standards, and are guaranteed to be true to type.  Non-certified seed potatoes can carry diseases that can be transferred to healthy plants via the soil.

Sometimes table potatoes, (the ones you get from the supermarket) start to loose some of their characteristics and vigor by the time you get your hands on them. Certified Seed Potatoes are generally stronger, more aggressive growers and are a lot more resistant to disease than non seed potatoes. Certified seed potatoes are disease free, and have been selected to give you the best results with the highest yields.

Once you have your seed spuds, you need to sprout them before you can plant them. You do this by laying them out in a single layer on a seed tray or box in a warm, dry and airy place. Sprouts appear from the "eyes", which are small buds. The "eyes" grow into shoots. When the shoots are 3-4cm long they are ready to plant out. Remove all but three of the strongest shoots for planting. Sprouting usually takes 4-6 weeks. Wood sheds, garages, under benches are all good spots. Once your spuds have sprouted and the threat of frosts has passed you can now plant out your crop.
While you are waiting for your spuds to sprout you could be preparing your potato plot for planting. For the best results choose a sunny position with good drainage. Spuds hate wet feet, so good drainage is essential. Dig over or cultivate the soil so it is nice and fine to a depth of about 20cm. (Fork depth). If you are growing in pots or containers choose a warm, sunny position where you will remember to water them. 

Growing Guide:

Mound up potatoes when you see shoots appear above the soil. Keep doing this until the mounds are approx 25cm above the ground. Applications of blood and bone will be beneficial.

Harvest:

Its always tempting to have a dig around your potato crop to see what’s happening under ground. It’s not a good idea. The Potato tells you when its ready to be harvested in a couple of ways. Early season varieties are ready 3 months after planting and when the flowers are fully open. Main crop and late season varieties should not be dug until tops have completely died down, usually in late March. Do not leave potatoes exposed to sunlight once they have been dug. If you are storing them, place in sacks (not plastic) in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place

How to use:

Use as a vegetable to accompany any meal either mashed, boiled, roasted, baked or fried. Or use in pies, cassoroles, curries and in salads.

Potato varieties:

Variety

Tuber

Skin

 Flesh

 General

 Maturity

Agria

Long Oval

Cream

Yellow

Suitable for boiling, roasting. Great for French fries

Early main crop, approx 90-100 days. High yielder

Cliff Kidney

Kidney

Slight pink tinge

White

Good boiling potato, excellent flavour

Early, approx 90 days

Desiree

Round

Pink

Cream

Good for all general cooking, great to microwave

Early main crop, approx 90-100 days

Ilam Hardy

Oval to Round

White

White

Cooks well as a boiling, baking and roast potato. Grows in light-medium soils

Second early-main, approx 90-100 days

Heather

Long Oval

Purple-Blue

White

Good for all general cooking, boils, mashes and roast. Excellent flavour

Second early, 90-100 days

Jersey Benne

Oval

White

White

Good boiling and mashing potato. Best eaten Nov-Feb or  before fully matured

Early, approx 90 days

Karaka

Oval

White

White

The great all-rounder. Excellent flavour- microwave, boil, bake or as roast wedges

Early-main, approx 90-100 days, very high yielder

Maris Anchor

Oval

White

White

Excellent as an early boiling potato and suitable for roasting. Excellent flavour

Early, approx 90 days

Moonlight

Round Oval

White

White

Cooks well as a boiling and chipping potato. Very high yielder

Main crop, approx 100 days

Nadine

Round

White

White

Good boiling potato and general use. Requires adequate soil moisture at all times

Early-main, approx 90-100 days

Red Rascal

Oval

Very Red

White

Good all round cooker. Resistant to late blight and powdery scab. Suitable to be grown organically

Main crop, approx 100-12- days

Rocket

Round to Oval

White

White

Good boiling potato. Average taste, waxy texture.

Fastest producing of early varieties, 60-90 days

Rua

Round to Oval

Fine White

White

Good roasting or boiling potato

Late main crop, approx 100-120 days

Swift

Round

White

Cream

Good boiling potato, very tasty, high yielder. Will not discolour or disintegrate by steaming

Extremely early, approx 60 days

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