While most households gravitate towards SunRice’s 1kg packets, the mustbethrifty household prefers a rice bag that’s the size and weight of a small child. We go through three or four of these each year, ending up with a small collection of woven bags.
- Chit some seed potatoes in an empty egg carton. Seed potatoes from the nursery are better than the supermarket variety as they are guaranteed to be virus-free.
- Once the eyes have sprouted, chop the potatoes up so that each piece has one eye on it.
- Cut a couple of small slits at the bottom of the rice bag to allow for drainage. Roll down the sides of the bag and chuck in some soil and compost*. The seed potato portions go on top of the compost, with the shoots pointing up. Two or three portions per bag should do the trick. Cover these** with more soil and compost and water regularly.
- Once the potatoes have sprouted 30cm, add more compost and soil around the plant to encourage the production of more tubers. If neither are on hand, use lucerne/grass clippings/shredded paper. Avoid using grey water, paper with coloured ink, or anything toxic as these will come in direct contact with the tubers.
- After three months, gently dig around the roots of the plant to harvest tubers.
Last week, I dug up nine chat-sized potatoes from two rice bags***. Cheap Geek drizzled olive oil over these and seasoned them with salt and pepper before chucking them into the oven with some chicken kiev.
Potatoes can be sown in the ground of course, but they’re susceptible to disease; they shouldn’t be grown more than twice in the same spot per decade (via Meredith Kirton’s Harvest) or in a bed that has recently been planted out with plants from the same family (tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, or eggplants. Bags and containers help bypass such limitations.
Don’t ask me how many years and how many months to go because I don’t know****,
*I bought my compost. It would have been more thrifty to beg, not borrow, maybe steal some. Oops.
**Tubers must be fully covered. If they get any sunlight on them, they’ll turn green and become poisonous. The fruit from the potato plant is also poisonous. Nasty stuff.
***Unlike herbs, potatoes don’t have to be eaten as soon as they’re harvested. Pull them out and leave them in the sun for no more than a day to harden up the skin (via Urban Farming Oz’s ‘Growing Potatoes’), and then store them in a cool, dark and airy place (via Kitchen Garden by Australian Women’s Weekly).
****Stupid new bank.