FAQs Potatoes

Potatoes are a Kiwi staple. Their versatility makes them a dinnertime favourite in many households. Whether you prefer your spuds mashed, boiled, roasted or in a salad, they taste best when you’ve grown them in your own garden. We get asked questions about potatoes every year by novice and experienced gardeners alike. Here are some of our frequently asked potato questions and our answers:

What does it mean to chit potatoes?

Chitting simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting, this gives them a head start. This normally takes several weeks and sprouts should appear in a purple hue, if they’re lighter coloured than that, your spuds aren’t getting enough light, Chit your potatoes on a windowsill or somewhere with bright, indirect light.

Can potatoes be grown in pots? If so, what do I need to do?

Absolutely! Choose a large pot, tub or potato bag and fill 2/3 full with soil and compost. Place your spuds in your container and top up with your soil mix. Don’t fill completely to the top, as you don’t want spillage when you water.

How do I grow potatoes in a garden bed?

Make sure your garden bed is well prepared with organic matter like compost or sheep pellets. Dig a trench, 40cm deep. Sprinkle in Tui Potato Food into the trench and blend in to the soil. Place your seed potatoes approximately 25cm apart in the trench and cover with soil. Continue mounding your potatoes as the shoots begin to grow until they’re 30cm tall. Mounding the soil around your plants protects them from frost and wind, it also prevents light reaching the tubers and turning them green.

What is the best variety to plant?

There are so many potato varieties available! It depends on what you’re using your potatoes for – have a look at our story on potato varieties to help you decide.

My potato plant has been hit by frost, can I save it?

When the sun hits the leaves, it can burn them. If your potato plants aren’t covered, we recommend covering with a frost cloth or newspaper before the sun comes out to protect your plants, removing once the frost has melted.

Why does my potato have a scab on it?

This is most likely caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. Add gypsum at planting time to help with this.

What is potato psyllid?

Potato psyllid is a wee critter that will severely impact your crop. Prevention is the key with this. Add neem into the soil at planting time, and apply every six weeks throughout the season. You can also use Yates Mavrik as a preventative spray.

Why do I have lots of leaves, but few potatoes?

It’s likely that your soil is full of nitrogen and not enough potassium. Apply sheep pellets to the soil before planting and make sure you feed with a fertiliser which is high in potassium which will promote root growth.

Why are my potatoes small?

Firstly, they may not be ready to harvest yet, leave them in the ground a little longer. Check that your soil isn’t too light. Potatoes prefer a heavy soil, which can be achieved through mixing soil and compost.

How long do I have to wait until I can harvest my spuds?

Each variety is different, the directions on the bag will give you a good indication. As a general guide, most varieties will take 90 – 100 days.