Brisbane Local Food

Growing local


Big thank you to Lyle (Betts) from the SCG for providing a potato growing workshop for our members, though we did have a couple of ring in's from BOGI in the form of Ed and Louise. Always good when other groups can join us.

What an excellent, no nonsense approach Lyle has to growing spuds.

Below Lyle is discussing the properties of certified and regular store bought spuds.


  • Plant from April-onwards for three months.
  • April plantings will be ready for cropping after 60 to 90 days, or around July.
  • Potato plants DO NOT LIKE/NEED TOO MUCH WATER. Water fortnightly if it doesn't rain.
  • Certified seed potato is best because it is disease resistant. But! any regular spud can be used - avoid those that are damaged/cut or show any sign of disease.
  • Buy planting spuds with soil on them - NOT washed.
  • Larger spuds can be cut into pieces with at least one eye per piece.
  • Pieces can be planted immediately after cutting but DO NOT water these at planting time. Alternatively pieces can be left to scab up (dry) naturally or be dusted with sulfur. Leave about three days.
  • Do not cut seed potato. They should be planted as is.
  • Soil should be slightly acidic, friable and contain lots of compost. Clay or limey soil is not suitable.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Plant your pieces between 10cm and 20cm deep - 15cm is good. About 20cm apart.
  • As the plants grow mound soil, compost or straw leaving about 10cm of plant exposed. This is to stop the sun getting at the potato crop and turning them green (toxic).
  • When the plant reaches about 20cm tall they will flower. This indicates that the plant is now producing tubers. This is the point at which the plant needs water.
  • Spuds can be bandicooted once the plants start producing.
  • Leave the crop in the soil for storage for as long as possible rather than picking and putting in a cupboard.
  • Expect about 8 potatoes per piece/seed potato planted.


  • Basil makes a good companion plant for spuds.
  • Lyle often replants in the same spot in his home garden, something we are told repeatedly not to do. He makes sure he uses healthy spuds for growing and adds lots of compost to replenish the bed.
  • Wanting a good crop during the growing period, Lyle also grows spuds in buckets hanging off his fence. He puts some holes in the bottom and mounds them as well as he can inside the bucket.
  • Lyle grows all sorts of potatoes at the SCG including Dutch Cream, Sebago, Pontiac and is about to try Kiphler. He feels we should be trying to grow as many varieties as possible.

Below: Some of the group taking a tour through the refugee gardens.

Below: Lyle cutting up some of the Potkin (Kabocha) pumpkin that grows in the garden for sharing and seed.

Thank you to everyone who turned up, including Mark and Katrina who came quite some distance from the south side. Good turn out for a very useable workshop. I hope you all came away with some usable hints and we now all have tremendous success growing spuds. I know now I was watering mine too often for starters!

If anyone has other information or photos that can be added please add below or message me and I'll add it to the main body of the report so it doesn't get separated and overlooked.

June 2015

So grateful to Lyle for running the workshop for us I had high hopes of some success but things aren't going that well.

I had limited space to plant the potatos but did manage to put them in spots that wouldn't get the same amount of watering as the balance of the beds (full of salad and brassicas).

Plants came up. Yay. I mounded them as directed. They grew well and tall but then a couple of them started dying off.

This morning I have "cropped" the tubers for these plants to see what the problem is and this is what I found - something has been chewing on them. The soil was full of little earth worms - would they do this? I'm thinking the answer to that is yes.


There is an interesting website called KENOSHA POTATO PROJECT in America which gives good information about soils and planting etc.



Success at last! This season I stuck with store bought chitted potatoes - bought with soil on, not washed, healthy and whole - planted them out in the decomposing compost pile, mulched some weeks back with composted horse poo and topped with lucerne.

Many plants came up. Most are in the process of producing flowers at the moment so will wait until they have finished as per HOLLIS' INSTRUCTIONS IN HIS VIDEO.

Noticed yesterday that one of the plants was dying so dug around and came up with these below. The biggest is palm sized.


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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 11, 2015 at 19:34

I'm yet to find out how Potatoes grow in wicking beds. Just today planted the 1 surviving purple potato plant into a 60L wicking bin.

Comment by Pollyanna on June 11, 2015 at 18:52
Pink around the eyes can indicate high soil moisture. While we don't seem to have conclusively figured out what caused the initial holes, high soil moisture might have caused the rot that made the worms so happy.

Have you considered grow bags? I had pretty good results using them. I like the flap at the bottom for bandicooting, and being able to (with difficulty!) drag the bag under cover if it rains too much is a big bonus in wet seasons/years.
Comment by Rob Collings on June 11, 2015 at 18:47
Yes agreed Lissa. Maybe, those potatoes may not be anywhere near in tact, if it was not for the earthworms eating out the rot ... Parallels?
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 11, 2015 at 17:44

What variety are the spuds, Lissa? A pink-skinned variety I guess; the pink looks healthy so it's more likely to be normal for the variety than an indication of disease.

I can see what looks like 3 tubers with something eaten out of it.

Comment by Lissa on June 11, 2015 at 16:07

So the roots are dead and gone causing the plant to die. Perhaps then the worms move in and start eating the tubers?

It is a good explanation isn't it :) I have often hunted for good worm info and never found the like before. Sometime you've just got to be arsey with a search.

Comment by Lissa on June 11, 2015 at 16:04

BTW that top spud is the only one with a rottie bit on it. The others are all firm with no sign of rot.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 11, 2015 at 16:02

The roots are further down. Potatoes are stem tubers, not root tubers. Proof of being stems is the presence of chlorophyll - the reason a potato turns green when exposed to light. So the actual roots are not near or on the potatoes. The roots would have died and now the plant is dying.

That is the clearest explanation of why and how a worm feeds that I've found so far. Although I have read books on earthworms no one had explained the wormy mystery quite like the author quoted did.

Comment by Lissa on June 11, 2015 at 15:59

They are pinkish. Does that mean anything to you?

Comment by Pollyanna on June 11, 2015 at 15:52
...and are those pinkish areas I see on the potato?
Comment by Pollyanna on June 11, 2015 at 15:50
Hi Lissa, yes, that was my implication, that the tuber is storage, not root. I could have been clearer ☺️ Interesting that you didn't see roots, that does sound like something having a feed. I've looked at a lot of photos is damaged potatoes, as I'm sure you have and can't see anything that looks like your photo.

Is there a clearly defined healthy edge to the holes?

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