Potatoes are a firm Kiwi favourite and a treat on the table from summer through to autumn - consecutive planting means you can enjoy them for months on end. Sweet waxy and delicate, they were almost the best part of the Christmas banquet!
Follow our top tips for a bumper crop of tasty homegrown spuds at your place.
Prepare and plant
- Potato planting time is from September-December in New Zealand.
- Grow your potatoes from Tui Certified Seed Potatoes – these are certified to ensure they are true to type, and will grow a healthy crop. Select a variety of seed potatoes that suits your tastes/how long you want to wait for your potatoes to be ready. View the list of Tui Seed Potato Varieties here, and click here for a guide to picking your potato variety.
- Early varieties like Rocket and Swift take about 90 days to mature, so if you plant them in September you’ll be on track for Christmas. Jersey Bennes are a tasty option for Christmas – they take a couple of weeks longer to mature, but are irresistibly waxy.
- Plant different varieties of potatoes from early spring right through until the last week of January. Doing this provides a constant supply of new potatoes from December through to Easter and a main crop that will last right through the winter. Soft-skinned potatoes don’t store well and if left to harden off the waxy varieties tend to sprout quite quickly, so it’s a good idea to also plant some main crop varieties for long-term storage.
- Buy seed potatoes at least a month before you plant them, as they need to be sprouted before they go into the ground. Called chitting, this process involves laying them out on trays or racks in a dry, airy spot away from direct sunlight, until the sprouts are about 2-4cm long.
- Don't plant potatoes in the same place each year, and avoid planting them where tomatoes have been planted the previous season, to reduce the risk of spreading disease.
- Prepare your soil with organic matter like Tui Compost and Tui Sheep Pellets.
- Add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix to plant into.
Nourish and care
- Replenishing nutrients used by your plants ensures they will grow to their full potential. Potatoes are heavy feeders but they don’t like a lot of nitrogen – this just encourages a lot of leaf growth instead of focusing their energy on producing tubers.
- For potatoes planted in garden beds feed with a specialty fertiliser like Tui Potato Food, which contains high levels of phosphorus and potassium promote healthy tuber production and plant growth. Feed every three to four weeks during key growth periods.
- If you don’t have a lot of room to grow potatoes, try growing them in containers or planter bags full of Tui Vegetable Mix – you’ll be amazed by how many potatoes you can produce in a very small space.
- Continue mounding your potatoes with Tui Vegetable Mix as shoots grow, until they are approximately 300mm tall. This protects them from wind and frost, prevents light reaching tubers and turning them green, and encourages tuber development.
- Early varieties are ready to harvest when the flowers are fully opened, approximately three months after planting, (except for Nadine, Rocket and Swift which may have few or no flowers on them).
- Earlier varieties are generally unsuitable for storing.
- Main and late cropping varieties are ready when the foliage dies off. If you can easily rub off the potato’s skin with your thumb, the variety of potato is not good for storing, so eat these first.
- As soon as potatoes have been dug, dry thoroughly and store in a cool, dark, well ventilated position.
When should I plantin
- Harvest in 120-150 days