Potatoes often get a bad rap because of their starchy nature.
Despite this, the humble tater actually holds it own when it comes to nutritional value: they’re a good source of vitamins C, B6 and potassium.
The key, like anything, is eating them as part of a balanced diet with other vegetables.
The best part is you can grow your own.
What you need to know before planting your seed potatoes
Potatoes can be grown in multiple months of the year, depending on the region and weather. Basically, as long as there isn’t any frost, seed potatoes (a whole little potato ready to shoot) can be planted.
When it comes to purchasing your seed potato, make sure they are certified disease-free.
Spuds need around 60-90 days frost-free to be successfully harvested.
Planting your seed potatoes in the ground
Once you have your seed potatoes, expose them to some light (avoid direct sunlight) and let the shoots grow to 1 cm long.
If you’re lucky enough to have space, dig trenches that measure about 30 - 40cm wide and 10 - 20cm deep. Fill the bottom of your trench with compost and cover with soil.
Plant your seeds 20 - 30cm apart and at least 10 cm deep with the shoots facing up. Fill the rest of the trench with soil.
Hill up your potatoes
The shoots should start to appear through the soil in one to two weeks. When they reach 8-10 inches high, use the soil from in between your potato rows to cover or ‘hill up’, forming mounds around the stems: this encourages the tubers (potatoes) to grow.
Add some grass clipping and mulch on top to maintain moisture.
To find out more about 'hilling up' your potatoes, watch the video below.
Known as bandicooting, you can dig around the stop soil for small potatoes; however, the skin won’t have formed properly yet, so they’ll need to be eaten that day.
As for the rest of the potatoes, the leaves can be used as a guide. Once they have died down, the potatoes are ready for storage. Using a fork and a small spade, carefully dig around for the potatoes.
Next, place them on a piece of cardboard or newspaper and leave them to dry away from the elements.
Brush off the extra dirt and store in a box or hessian sack and store in a cool, dry place.
Growing potatoes in a container
If you live in an apartment with a balcony, potatoes can be grown in a container, pot, wheelbarrow etc. Find one at least 40 - 50 cm deep with holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill with 10 - 20cm of mixed compost and potting mix.
Place your seeds about 30 cm apart and cover with about 10-20 cm of compost mixed with straw or grass clippings, keep watered and away from direct sunlight. Light causes potatoes to go green. Don’t eat these: they are poisonous.
Similar to potatoes grown in the ground, when the leaves are 7mm high continue to cover with soil until you reach the top of the container. Once the leaves die down, your potatoes are ready for harvesting.