Monday, January 08, 2007

Growing potatoesThe potatoes are planted in 10cm deep rows about 45cm apart around september. The potatoes should be small/moderate in size and should be disease free. They can be planted from about August - October.The potatoes are then covered with the soil from the rows.Once the potatoes start to break through the surface soil is mounded over the tips, this is important to getting a good harvest as most of the potatoes will form in the mounds above surface level. It is also a really good form of weed control.The rows are harvested with a fork carefully to prevent injury to the potatoes, potatoes are harvestable when the tops die back and brown off.We grew a pretty wide range of maori potatoes this year (over 20 varieties) and their colours range from hot pink right through to blackish bluish varietis. The tastes and textures of these varities are quite an experience after eating bland white potatoes all your life.

This is one of my favourite varieties, I have it growing wild through my forest garden and i consistenly get good harvests from it.

Economics of growing potatoes
The depressing thing is no matter how hard i work or how good my technique is I will never ba able to provide organic maori potatoes at a price the average poor person in my street would buy them at. This is because my potatoes are grown with human labour whereas those in the supermarket have fossil fuels doing all the work. Mechanised farming with straight lines as far as the eye can see and a harvesting machine crewed by immigrants on the minimum wage means that my potatoes will only be available to an elite of Auckland society.

If the price of oil went through the roof on the other hand my potatoes would start looking pretty attractive. Or if we started valueing the land and started farming sustainably then my hand grown potatoes would become the norm not just a product for a wealthy elite.

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