Digging Up Potatoes
Whenever we have potatoes sprout in the cupboard, we plant them out in a spare garden bed. It costs nothing, and you typically get back about 5-10 times as many potatoes as you plant!
Potatoes are also amazing for establishing new garden beds. They break up the ground, attract lots of worms, and leave a lovely rich soil behind.
I use the standard potato-growing technique – dig a fairly deep trench (up to a foot deep), put the seed potatoes in the bottom, and cover them with an inch or so of dirt. As the shoots start coming through, keep backfilling the dirt around them. Keep hilling and mulching them until you can’t go any higher, then leave them until the tops start to die off. Finally, dig!
The girls gave me a hand pulling up our most recent potatoes last weekend.
It’s like a treasure hunt! Every time I turn over the soil, the girls rush in and try to outdo each other. There’s always a bit of competition to see who can collect the most potatoes.
These were the biggest two, although they were all pretty uniform:
After they’ve all been recovered, we brush the clods of dirt off the potatoes, sort them (use any damaged ones first), and let them dry a little in the sun.
Look at that lovely rich soil left behind! There were heaps of worms all through the garden bed.
The end result – a big tub of potatoes. We collected about 12 kg, having started with about 1 kg of sprouted potatoes from the cupboard. Not a bad return! They were all a lovely big size too – sometimes you get lots of little ones, but not this time.
And of course, the girls were proud to have gotten their hands dirty helping Dad!
We’re fortunate here on the South Coast. Our climate is mild enough that we can plant potatoes pretty much any time of the year. Gardening web sites tell you to plant them between August and October; that may give you the best yields, but really they’ll grow anytime the soil is above 10C (50F). If you have potatoes sprouting the cupboard, you’ve got nothing to lose by planting them out!
Do you grow potatoes? Do you have any special techniques to share?