Winter is a great time to plant potatoes, especially in the subtropics. Planting in autumn and winter means that you will be harvesting your potatoes before the heat and humidity of summer rolls in.

To start with there are a variety of methods for growing potatoes; garden beds, pots, raised garden beds, wire cages and potato bags. Firstly, you need to ensure that you have a sunny location, seed potatoes and the necessary items for your potato growing adventure.

What is a Seed Potato?

These are not ‘seeds’ they are certified disease-free potatoes that are ready to plant and guaranteed to produce well. There are many varieties available to the home gardeners these days. You will need to wait until the eyes (shoots) have started to form. Once there are a few eyes on each potato to get the maximum use of them, cut them into 3 or 4 pieces, or however many eyes there are. Allow these pieces to dry out for 24 hours before planting.

1. Growing potatoes in container, raised garden bed or potato grow bag. 

This is a great way to grow potatoes if you have limited space, poor soil, are renting, or just want to be able to utilise a hard surface area or veranda/patio to grow food.

In these situations, it is best to start with an empty pot, bag or raised bed. You can of course still use a raised garden bed if it is full of soil mix too, just follow the garden growing instructions.

  • Fill up the bottom of your pot, bag or bed with about 5cm of good quality potting mix like Rocky Point Organic Potting Mix .
  • Place your seed potatoes/pieces in the bottom eyes facing up and cover with about 5cm of potting mix.
  • As the potato plants grow, keep adding more mix up against the potato plant stems until you reach the top of the pot.
  • Regular applications of liquid seaweed and fertiliser
  • The potato plants will continue to grow, flower and then start to turn yellow and die down. When this occurs, it is your cue to start harvesting your potatoes.
  • Harvest by pulling up the plants and tipping the pot out, opening the potato bag or digging through the raised bed.

2. Growing potatoes in the ground

  • For existing soil, prepare the soil by digging in some Rocky Point ActivGrow Soil Improver and Cow Manure Plus. Or purchase the Organic Health Garden Soil for an all in one product (coming in July 2023)
  • Create rows of hilled soil 50cm apart and however long you wish.
  • Plant the seed potato pieces at the bottom of the hills in the trenches. Eyes facing up.
  • Cover the potatoes with some soil and compost and water in well.
  • As the potato plants grow you fill in the trenches with some of the hilled soil. If you run out of hilled soil, you can use mulch and compost to keep hilling up against the potato plant stem.
  • You do this for about the first 6 weeks of growth and then stop, allowing the plant to continue on growing.
  • Once the potato plant flowers, starts to yellow and die down this is now the time to harvest your potatoes. Pull up the dead plants and carefully dig out your potatoes.

Some things to note;

  1. All this hilling up of either potting mix, soil or straw is to encourage more roots to form off the stems. These stems will then produce more potatoes.
  2. Potatoes take about 20 weeks to reach harvesting time. After about 12 weeks you can start to fossick around in the soil or mix for the odd potato that may be ready. We call this bandicooting.


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