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 Lissa on June 11, 2015 at 7:35

Now that it is dawn I've dug up the spuds on the dying plants and added a pic in the blog Elaine. No flowering is the least of my worries. Something is eating the spuds.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 11, 2015 at 6:42

They don't always flower … when in doubt, dig anyway ;-)

Comment by Lissa on June 11, 2015 at 5:39

Originally posted in the GV discussions (and still there if looking for it)  I wanted to update my ongoing battle with growing good spuds.

I did everything suggested at the workshop - had some good success with plants coming up which I duly mounded. Avoided watering too much - difficult as they are planted at the end of a salad bed but it's the only space I had left.

First one plant starts to die off and now the remaining ones are dying. No flowering, just dying.

I'm going to have to dig down and see what is there.

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