We must admit that the title of this post is a little dramatic, but the ups and downs of our foray into potato growing has left us a little bemused and we have learned a few things.
If you live in Central Queensland you would know that our last Winter was a mild one. Not only did this mean that we could still get around in thongs most days, but it also meant that some of our veggies didn’t do so well.
Those of you who have read this blog before would know that we had particular enthusiasm for our potato crop. If you have ever eaten home grown potatoes, you would know that the ones that we all buy from the shops can be old and tasteless. Home grown potatoes are crisp and flavoursome, not-to-mention, nutrient dense.
Our potato crop started out looking like a winner. We let our seed potatoes develop their eyes, before planting them in potato bags, nestling in a bed of potting mix. We tended to them like babies, making sure that they had everything they needed. Watering regularly to keep them moist, and topping up the soil as they poked their little shoots through until the bag was full.
We sat back and watched our little gems grow. They became beautiful plants that sat about 2 feet tall..
We were under the assumption the plants should have flowered and they didn’t. This was worrisome and we sought a remedy for a potential potassium deficiency. We ladled on Potash (a couple of times), but still, not one flower did appear. Then they started to die. What a tragic ending to what had started out as an uplifting story.
The bags sat with their brown potato plant corpses, hanging limp and very sad looking for weeks, until we got sick of the sight of them and decided to investigate “Why had we failed as potato parents?!”. Here is the twist.. Turns out, we hadn’t failed! The crop was about a third of the expected size, but we did manage to rescue about 5kg of potatoes. We now know that even if the plants do not flower there may be hidden goodies in the soil. Potatoes can grow an inedible fruit, but the part of the potato plant that we eat is incorporated into their root system (tubers) and is not dependant on flowers growing on the plant.
We are looking forward to mashing, roasting and boiling our little darlings and smothering them in yummy toppings. We have learned that Central Queensland is not suited to all plants, even if we really want it to be. We will be growing potatoes again next year and hoping for a slightly cooler Winter. Sometimes plants work and sometimes they don’t, but we should never give up.