Growing Potatoes in Brisbane
At the Struggling Homestead, it is time to plant potatoes, basically, no idea when the best time is but I am on the “mend” from my weird ill period, and they predict rain… So time to put the spuds in the ground I think.
I walked out into the paddock and realised that after 2 weeks of not getting into the garden, most has perished. I decided to rotary hoe the lot and put some work into the soil.
Fortunately, I have the “small big boy toys” and the job did not take long, but the machine was really struggling. The soil was rock solid, dry as a bone as they say here in the “hood”. February 2023 was really dry actually, we got 26.8mm compared to our 149.6mm average, so yes… dry dry..
Let’s get to work and find out a bit more about potatoes. I like growing potatoes and growing the holandia variety, it is an under rated crop I think. I also thing that it is a crop that will be expensive soon, the reason being is we have seen floods in areas where we grow and we have seen droughts in areas where we grow. The JetStreams are really buggering up the rain patterns, but nothing new there we knew that would happen.
Potatoes might just become a cash crop with the shortage of frozen potato products.
So what is so special about the spud?
Potatoes are a staple food for many families, spuds are relatively cheap and are a great source of carbohydrates, fibre, and vitamins, eg VitC funny enough. Potassium is also available in the potato.
Growing potatoes in Brisbane can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it requires knowledge of the best time to plant, common diseases to watch out for, and proper care to ensure a bountiful harvest. Here at the Struggling Homestead, we start to increase our production so we can sell some eat some and store some. Generally, all the produce we grow is split into 1/3rds for that reason.
We also give away a lot of produce when we meet with members of our Postcode Community every fourth night. Not everybody can grow food due to land size, work commitments or other causes.
Best Time to Plant Potatoes in Brisbane?
Potatoes can be grown in Brisbane year-round, but the best time to plant them is during the cooler months, from March to August. Potatoes prefer cooler temperatures and can be damaged by extreme heat. However, it’s important to avoid planting them during the wettest months, from December to February, as excessive moisture can lead to problems like rot and fungal diseases.
To plant potatoes, choose a well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Potatoes need a lot of water, so ensure the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Plant the seed potatoes about 10-15 cm deep and 30-40 cm apart. As the plants grow, mound soil around the base of the stems to encourage the development of more tubers.
So that was the plan. It started great, but then the wobbly kicked in. The spuds don’t mind too much, and it all looks straight to me when the time comes. We are not really into straight lines and cottage gardening at the struggling homestead. We chuck stuff in the ground, say our “hail Mary” and hope for the best 🙂
Once they pop their heads up, the sugar cane will be used to encourage more growth. Well, that is the theory, the plan that is. The execution generally seems to lack alignment with the plan.
Common Potato Diseases in Brisbane
Potatoes are susceptible to several diseases, including late blight, early blight, and black scurf. Late blight is a fungal disease that causes the leaves to turn brown and the tubers to develop a soft rot. Early blight is another fungal disease that causes dark, sunken spots on the leaves and stems. Black scurf is a soil-borne disease that causes black, raised lesions on the tubers.
To prevent these diseases, plant disease-resistant varieties, rotate crops yearly, and avoid planting potatoes in soil used for other nightshade plants like tomatoes or eggplants. When noticing any signs of disease, especially leaf rot, something we really struggle with here on the farm, remove and destroy the affected plants immediately to prevent the disease from spreading. I do spray with a copper solution when needed. This year all plants seem to have a subscription to leaf rot. Not sure why or how, but the gardens are FULL OF IT. Spraying with copper and providing fertilizer to the plants seems to slow it down a bit, yet the moment the plant struggles.. BOOM, rot kicks in.
I see some additional issues coming along, and that is around August 2023, we will see an increase in the Ozone hole. This has nothing to do with what we humans are doing. Because of the Tonga eruption, without going into much detail, the frozen moisture at high altitudes is creating a reaction that depletes the Ozone layer. This means more UV-B will hit us. This results in more leave burn on crops and as such lower yields. Have I mentioned it is important to grow your own food?
Care for Growing Potatoes
Potatoes need a lot of water, especially during the early stages of growth. Make sure the soil stays moist but not waterlogged. Fertilise the plants regularly with a balanced fertiliser high in potassium, which is important for tuber development. We use comfrey juice to fertilise. You can learn on how to make comfrey juice, using a press or fermentation you can find here in our courses section.
Harvesting and Storing Potatoes
Potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow and die back, I do, on occasion, harvest them earlier when I run out of potatoes. Carefully dig up the tubers, being careful not to damage them, even using a fork can damage the spuds. One of the reasons I use mulch to create hills for them to grow in is it makes harvesting easier. I pull the mulch back and all is revealed. Let them dry in the sun for a few hours to toughen the skins, then store them in a cool, dark place like a root cellar. I converted an old freezer box into a root cellar. Potatoes can be stored for several months in a well-ventilated, dry area. You can also bury the potatoes, I personally have not done that but I know in UK and Ireland it is regularly done.
Nutritional Value of Potatoes
No good article about crops is without nutritional values, as mentioned potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, fibre, and vitamins. Here’s a table that shows the nutritional value of potatoes per 100 grams:
|Vitamin C||19.7 mg|
In conclusion, growing potatoes in Brisbane can be a fun and rewarding experience if you know the best time to plant, common diseases to watch out for, and proper care to ensure a bountiful harvest. With a little bit of effort, you can enjoy fresh, potatoes all year round. Here at the Struggling Homestead, we are getting there, every year we focus on a new crop to get the best out of it when growing. It is a learning process, and it ain’t too easy either.
On that note, please start growing your food, let me know how you go and join the discussion in our forum. We love to have you there.