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. Those sprayed with Chlorpropham (aka Bud Nip) won't produce chits.
  • 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.


Here's a You Tube VIDEO from England on growing spuds in 30lt containers for another alternative.

LINK to Potatoes South Australia with pics and descriptions of many different varieties of spuds grown for the Australian market.

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Replies to This Discussion

This looks fantastic, very sorry to have missed it. Thank's for sharing the outing with us, Lissa. 

Would have loved to have been there but was camping. Lissa thanks for posting the above info - will have to have a go at growing some potatoes.

You get the best of both worlds Cheryl - you get to camp and get the report.

Great report and pix, Lissa! Interesting about the watering and about keeping them in the ground as long as possible. Good points!

Terrific report Lissa.  Explains why normal spuds didn't go so well in my wicking bed. 

You would think they would like a wicking bed. Water only as they need it.

Just reread and I see I've planted the pieces very, very deeply lol. I've corrected the error.

The watering information was the most interesting to most of us Elaine. I can see now that is a major reason for my lack of success - too much water.

If you were going to plant deep then gradually cover, using a wicking bed might not be the best. The lower area nearest the reservoir would be wet all the time, only when you get above 300mm would you get significant drying. Worth a whirl: side-by-side experiment with similar material, 1 wicking pot 1 normal pot. If it rains too much then might be 1 reason among many that spuds don't really thrive here.

Acidic soil is another absolute requirement; prevents Potato scab whatever that is.

Ah, but you could plant 10cm deep and mound UP.

Lyle uses coffee grounds to make the soil more acidic. I've heard that horse poo is also acidic but I haven't checked that out yet.

There's plenty of horse poo in Deagon! It's poo central.

I helped harvest some of last year's crop there and we did so with our hands which indicates how shallow the spuds were. And last year's patch of spuds was hardly ever irrigated...We harvested just after some mid year frosts. The Green P got hit hard by them frosts.

That's the thing I  couldn't relate to here. After Deagon, I planted out  in mounds on sand I hardly could get water to and the potatoes thrived, when the thirsty Sweet spuds have struggled in my soil.

Over confident, I got some seed spuds and put them in late January (King Edwards I think)  and they've gone no where...too hot I expect, although my research indicated I may have had a window.I was spooked because spuds I had not dug up were keenly growing again so I thought I'd try an early crop.  My new marketeer mate at Caboolture (an agronomist from Warwick)  insists King E are a July plant.

The soil Lyle was digging was beautiful due to all the goody they have put in. You can see how good it is in the top pic. Very friable and rich.

King E are a July plant as in plant in July?

Currently I have some organic King Edwards. They are a mighty spud along with Dutch Cream and Kipfler. Hope they will shoot and plant some out.

Weirdly, the purple spuds I received from Lissa (from Joseph initially) have been slow to make up their minds whether to grow or not. Upshot is I have 1 with a decent shoot and another not sure yet if it wants to grow or not.


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