Tips for Growing Potatoes Successfully in NZ

Potatoes are a Kiwi favourite that’s easy to grow and reliable. Sweet and delicate when harvested fresh from the garden, potatoes are an important part of most Christmas banquets.

Homegrown potatoes can provide consistent returns of delicious fresh tubers from summer through to autumn, and planting a few patches consecutively means you can enjoy them for months on end.

No matter how you like your potatoes, whether it be roasted, boiled, mashed or in a salad, they always taste better dug out of your own garden.

When to Sow Potatoes in NZ

If you're in a northern part of NZ you can plant potatoes from July if you want, whereas southern areas should wait for frosts to have passed before planting. Seed potatoes are widely sown in spring through early summer throughout NZ.

Preparing your Seed Potatoes

Seed potatoes are best "chitted" before planting. To chit your seed potatoes spread them out in a light place but shielded from direct sunlight in a dry, cool, frost free area. Let the roots develop for about 3-6 weeks until they have reached 2cm in length. Our seed potatoes may have started to chit already and be showing root sprouts when you receive them.

Preparing the Garden for your Seed Potatoes

Potatoes enjoy full sun and require fertile soil to perform at its best and produce lots of big healthy potatoes.

We recommend preparing your potato growing bed/s by generously adding organic matter such as aged compost, potting mix, manure and/or sheep pellets, plus if you have access to free organic matter from your yard such as lawn clippings or dropped leaves that's perfect too.

Sowing your Seed Potatoes

Seed potatoes are best sown in rows directly in place approx. 25cm apart and 15cm deep, with rows spaced approx. 60cm apart. Sow your seed potatoes with their root sprouts pointing upwards and lightly cover with soil.

Remember to record your sowing/planting date so you can harvest once the potato plants have reached maturity according to the tips in our description for that variety.

When your potato plants reach 5cm - 10cm in height begin mounding soil around the plants to protect potatoes from greening and insect damage, and continue mounding as they grow taller.

Potatoes can also be grown in pots, bags and sacks for those with limited space. Early Crop potato varieties are generally best for growing in pots, bags and sacks as they are more compact and take less time to mature.

Looking after your Potato Plants

Replenishing nutrients used by your plants as they grow ensures they will grow to their full potential, so feeding with a specialty fertiliser like potato food, or even a basic liquid seaweed tonic will help to promote healthy tuber production.

Well-watered, well-nourished potatoes have the best chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay. When watering, we recommend taking care to water the soil and not the foliage to avoid blight. Do your best to keep your potato crop weed free.

Early Crop vs. Main Crop Potatoes

Earlier harvested varieties (Early Crop) are usually small and have thin skin, but consequently they don’t store very well - they're popular for spring planting and harvesting fresh at Christmas. They are generally ready to harvest when their flowers are fully opened.

Later harvested varieties (Main Crop) typically have thicker skin and are bigger, and they usually store for a good while. They are generally ready to harvest when the foliage dies off.

Harvesting your Potatoes

Harvest your potato plants when they have reached maturity by referring to your recorded sowing/planting date and according to the tips in our description for that variety.

Carefully dig out your potatoes with a fork or spade, and eat any potatoes that get speared first as they won’t keep for long. Once harvested store your potatoes in a cool, dark place to retain their freshness and eat and enjoy.

We wish you the very best success in growing your own potatoes in your garden!

Happy growing!