Springtime is Potato Planting Season
Potatoes are not a common crop in home gardens because they remain in the soil for about 20 weeks before they can be harvested and take up a lot of space. They can however be grown successfully in containers; and a small patch of baby potatoes can be harvested much earlier and is well worth growing because nothing compares to the flavour of a freshly grown new potato.
Potatoes dislike cold conditions and are sensitive to frost; they also dislike excessive heat. For home gardens the best time to sow is in early spring or autumn; and it is best to buy certified seed or tubers as potatoes can suffer from serious fungal and viral diseases. Potatoes need deeply dug soil so break down all clods and remove all stones. If you are only planting out a few plants, dig a trench about 15cm wide and 15cm deep. Add some compost and add a dressing of organic 2:3:2 fertilisers. Return some soil to the trench, plant the tubers about 25cm apart and cover with soil. If you have more than one row, allow 80cm between rows. Keep on ridging the soil up against the stems to encourage the development of more tubers. Keep the plants well watered, and if the beds are prepared correctly it should not be necessary to feed again. If space is limited you can grow potatoes in a barrel or similar container. Ensure that the container drains well by adding stones or gravel to the bottom. Cover with compost mixed with a general purpose ferliliser and plant the tubers about 15cm apart, just covering them with compost. Water well and place in a sunny place. As the potatoes grow within the barrel, add further layers of compost.
New potatoes should be ready to harvest about 3 to 4 weeks after the plants have flowered and the leaves turn yellow.