Sunday, September 27, 2009

Speedy spuds

When they're young, there's nothing more cheerful than potato plants. What a picture of rude green health they are. It was only back on September 8 that I did a blog on bagging up spuds, having planted them just two weeks earlier. And now, on September 27 the spuds have roared away and the tallest plant is 35cm high already. They're all very green, thriving in their planter bags, and ready for a spot of 'hilling'.

Here's the happy crew this morning, spreading green cheer. However, they've grown so fast it's time to do a spot of 'hilling', or at least the bagged potato version.

After unrolling the sides of the bag by five or six inches I then filled the bag, and around the plants, with a mix of compost and straw. This 'hilling' is important, as it stops sunlight ever getting onto the crops of potatoes which form around the stems of the plants. Sunlight on spuds will make them green and poisonous, so hilling is an essential part of spud farming.

The mixture is actually compost and sugar cane mulch, the same stuff I use to mulch the garden. I think it's mixed up around 50:50 proportions, but it doesn't really matter. I know I probably don't have enough compost left over to fully fill both potato bags, so I'm using the mulch as an 'extender'. Reading online, I've noticed that some gardeners grow their spuds in nothing but straw and they still get good crops, but I think the richness of the compost surely helps. It certainly seemed to help with last year's potato crop.

This is how the bags look after the hilling. I guess that I'll have to do one more 'top up' of compost and straw in a few more weeks, as there's about six more inches of bag to unfurl.

So far so good with this year's little crop. In fact, this year's spud crop has grown even more vigorously than last year's, but they are different spud varieties I am growing this year, and this might explain the amazing growth. Also, it has been warmer this spring than last year, so that might also have a lot to do with it. Whatever the cause, the ugly black plastic bags full of spud plants are a cheerful, pleasing sight. I'm looking forward to seeing a good array of those pretty, simple white potato flowers next, and at the current rate of growth it might be sooner, rather than later.


Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Nice and neat to grow potato in bags... I am growing sweet potato on vegetable bed... they keep crawling out of the bed, and I keep pushing them in... It's laughable at times. Cheers, ~bangchik

howtoshuckanoyster said...

You have inspired me Jamie. I am going to try spud growing, having never done it before. Love the bag idea as I assume this means it's portable? We have no spare sunny spots in the garden bed but if I can bag-grow it on the pavers in the sun, then just shift it out of the way temporarily when we have visitors or dine outside, should that do the trick?

Jamie said...

Yep, they're nice and portable if needs be. You can also get potato bags by mail order from Diggers ( They are green (so look a bit nicer than my black ones) and as a nice bonus, they come with handles, to make moving them even easier. I've just taken delivery of an order of them (took about a week to arrive) in which Fenella will be growing her bagged spuds.

Your idea of growing them on the pavers is a good one. Good luck!

Lanie said...

I've planted my kipfler potatoes in the Diggers club bags that you mentioned. Not sure if they are all that much more attractive (I think your black ones are quite nice really). Mine have also grown incredibly, and my job just yesterday was hilling. Cheers.

howtoshuckanoyster said...

Hmm, Diggers out of stock so I might try the black garbage bag route myself. Just have to find some seed potatoes...

Jamie said...

I must have got some of the last of the Diggers bags. Sorry about that. The black bags I used came via phone order to

As for the seed potatoes, I saw some at Bunnings about two weeks ago, but online I ordered my seed potatoes last year from Tasmanian Gourmet Potatoes:

It might also be worthwhile phoning an outlet such as Flower Power to see if they stock them. It's getting a bit late in the season for them, but the odd outlet should still have some.

Green thumb said...

This is a great method for growing potatoes, even in a limited space. Will sure give it a try! Thanks for sharing