Potato Time Whether you prefer new potatoes covered in melted butter and chopped herbs or delicious crunchy roast potatoes we have the seed potato for you. If you grow your own pototoes not only will you have delicious potatoes to eat but bragging rights at your next BBQ or dinner party that they are out of your garden!
Potatoes are loosely split into two categories - Waxy which hold their shape and are perfect for boiling and salads (low in starch) or Floury which will give you dreamy mash and the best roasties (high in starch) - what you like to eat should help you pick what type to grow.
'Early' and 'Main' crops refer to how long the potatoes take to reach maturity. Knowing the length of time and the end use for the potato ( ie salad or roasted) will help you plan your crop, particularly if you are supplying a special event or day.
First Early Potatoes are small, new potatoes that can be harvested approximately 10 weeks from planting
and are ideal for growing in containers or bags. Second Early Potatoes are similar but take approximately 13 weeks to harvest.
Main crop potatoes produce larger potatoes that are ideal for baking or roasting. These are ready to harvest in approximately 20 weeks from planting and can be grown in containers, but do better in the ground with more room to spread.
| EARLY CROP |
Rocket take 65 days to maturity with White skin and waxy flesh.
Ilam Hardy approximately 70-80 days to maturity. White skin and flesh. Floury Potato. Many flowers.
Cliff Kidney takes 80-90 days to maturity. White skin and flesh. Flowers absent. Waxy potato.
| 2nd EARLY / MAIN CROP |
Purple Passion takes 75 days to mature and has unusual purple skin and a cream flesh. It is a good all purpose potato which means it can be successfully used for salads or roasting.
Nadine takes 85 days to mature and has a waxy texture. They have white skin and flesh.
Swift also take 65 days to maturity with white skin and waxy flesh. High yielding variety. Flowers rare.
Summer Delight Cream/Yellow skin and flesh. Round to oval shape with shallow eyes. A great all rounder with excellent flavour.
Red Rascal takes 100 days to mature. It has red skin and white flesh and is a good floury potato.
Moonlight takes 95 days to mature. It is a high yielding variety white skin and flesh that is a good all purpose potato.Rua
takes 100 days to mature. White skin and flesh. Good all rounder. High yielder and a good keeper. Many flowers.Desiree
takes 90-100 days to maturity. Pink skin and cream flesh. Good all rounder. Many flowers.
Purple Heart is an early main cropping potato that matures in approximately 80-90 days from planting. The tuber is an oval shape with shallow eyes, the skin is deep purple and smooth. The flesh is purple toned. It is a great general purpose potato that can be used for salads, boiling and microwaving. This variety is high in antioxidants with strong health benefits.
Pink Fir Apple A very long potato with a pink blush over a cream skin. The firm yellow flesh has a delicious nutty flavour. Ideal for boiling, roasting in jackets & salads.
Three favourite varieties are
Agria a main crop potato with long oval shaped with yellow flesh it is a great all rounder.
Heather this main crop potato has a distinctive purple skin, it is oval shaped with white flesh and like Agria is versatile in its range of uses.
Jersey Benne this early variety is an oval to kidney shaped potato with white skin and white flesh, it is an excellent potato for mashing or boiling, soups, casseroles and salads. If planting potatoes in August and September you should have a nice new crop for Christmas.
Taewa were brought from South America to NZ in the late 18th century by Europeans. Maori cultivated the Taewa (potato) amd gave them Maori names. They vary in size and colour but tend to have a purple/blackish skin with yellow or white flesh. Taewa take approximately 17 weeks to harvest, from planting
Huakaroro Round, oval with a cream skin, and cream flesh. Is a waxy potato (great for boiling) with a 'buttery' taste. A good keeper.
Moemoe A round/oval potato with a light purple/cream skin and cream flesh. Ideal for boiling and baking.
Waiporoporo An oval/round potato, with a multi coloured skin and cream flesh. Great for boiling. Nice taste.
Whataroa An oblong potato light brown with purple patches. Flesh is cream with purple flushes. Ideal for oven bake, chips or roasting.
Nutrient Rich, bursting with vitamins & minerals
Our mothers always told us to eat our vegetables, and so we tell our kids and they will probably pass on the tradition! In New Zealand one of the most loved and widely eaten vegetables is the potato. Tasting fantastic, being very versatile at the same time as being a nutritional goldmine are just some of the reasons why they have won our hearts. Potatoes are amazingly nutrient rich, bursting with vitamins and minerals. Potatoes are virtually fat free, contain no cholesterol and when served in their skins are a great source of fibre. They are perfect as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Potatoes are important in our diet because of their valuable nutrition status, e.g. vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Most New Zealanders get around 30% of their vitamin C requirement from potatoes. They are good quality nutrition at a price most can afford and New Zealanders love them and eat lots of them!
To get the best choice of the freshest potatoes you really need to grow your own. Potatoes are grown from small tubers known as seed potatoes. Starting in July it is time to purchase seed potatoes and set them out to sprout for a few weeks before planting. Always look for government certified seed as these are free of known virus diseases. As soon as you purchase your seeds place them on a tray in a dark, warm position (cupboard) for about 3 weeks to allow young shoots to form. This allows the young sprouts to ‘green’ or harden.
Seed potatoes should be sprouted before planting them. If they have not yet sprouted place them in a warm cupboard for a few days to encourage this more quickly. When it is time to plant work in plenty of compost and the recommended amount of potato fertiliser.
If planting in late winter plant them fairly shallow, no more than a spade blade depth; make a shallow furrow and plant them about 30cm apart, with rows about 75cm apart. Just cover with soil and as the sprouts grow through the ground mound up the soil over them, spread more potato fertiliser along the mound surface each time. Mounding will help protect young growth from frosts. Ensure that exposed tops are covered also on evenings that may be frosty. Once the mound is of sufficient height then you may need to use frost cloth to protect your plants.
If you do not have enough space in your garden for a row or two of potatoes you can grow them quite successfully in containers, old vehicle tyres, large plastic bags or a bucket (say 15 ltr) using a good quality potting mix. Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes. Place tubers in the potting mix near the bottom of the container covering them by about 50mm. As the sprouts grow, keep adding potting mix until it is up to the brim of the container, add a dressing of potato fertiliser each time the potting mix is added. Harvest when the tubers are ready.
If possible avoid planting potatoes in the same place each year. Potatoes should also not be planted where tomatoes have been planted the previous season. Soil borne diseases from previous crops can affect your new crop.
The fastest early to mature potatoes for planting are ‘Rocket’ and ‘Swift’ taking 60-70 days depending upon conditions. So, these planted in August would be ready for harvest in October. Ilam Hardy is an early maturing potato and generally takes 70-80 days. Planted in August they should be ready in October. Rua and Red Rascal, main crop potatoes take another month or so.
Pests and Diseases
The major disease of potatoes is late blight. Despite its name, it often occurs early in the season or late. It usually attacks in wet cool conditions. Once infested it will spread rapidly. Initially black blotches appear on the leaves, which spread to total defoliation. Control by spraying at the very first sign of black spots with Yates Guardall Spray thoroughly including the undersides of leaves.
Very occasionally aphids or caterpillars attack and can be controlled by spraying with Yates Mavrik, which also controls the Potato psylid. If harvesting has commenced use Naturally Neem.
Commonly asked potato questions
Why do potatoes go green?
Greening is caused when potatoes are exposed to light. The greening is due to the presence of a substance called solanine, which is poisonous. Hence it is important that any portions of a potato which are green should be discarded.
Why do potatoes vary?
The growing conditions of a potato greatly influence the characteristics of a particular potato. A similar potato which is grown in different conditions, i.e. rainfall, frost, soil type, can exhibit quite different qualities in terms of cooking attributes, flavour etc.
Why do some potatoes go grey when they are cooked?
This is related to the iron content of the potato. At certain times in the year the iron content of the soil varies - hence when the iron content is low the potatoes tend to grey if they are cut open and/or cooked and left at a high temperature. To rectify this, add some lemon juice to the water and this will inhibit the greying.
What is a floury potato?
Floury describes the texture of the potato. Floury potatoes tend to be really good for mashing and baking. They tend not to hold their shape so are usually best not used for salads.
What is a waxy potato?
Waxy describes the texture of the potato. Waxy potatoes tend to be really good for boiling , salads and adding to casseroles and soups as they tend to hold their shape and won't fall apart.
Why do some potatoes slough or fall apart when boiling?
Some potatoes retain their shape a lot better than other potatoes, depending on the make up of the potato. Potatoes which disintegrate on boiling tend to be floury - which are better suited to mashing. It is also sometimes due to the cooking technique being too aggressive - i.e. boiling too hard or for too long.
Why do some potatoes brown better when making them into fries or wedges?
This is due to the sugar level in the potatoes. Potatoes with a naturally high sugar level will brown a lot faster that those with a low sugar level. This is why processing manufacturers are particularly careful to monitor sugar levels. So when purchasing seed, choose a variety as suitable for this purpose.