When to plant potatoes in Melbourne

How to grow better potatoes and maximise your harvest

Potatoes need a cool climate to grow, so Melbourne is the perfect place to plant them.

You can grow potatoes as a winter or summer crop—you just need to choose the right variety and give them plenty of sun, water and good soil.

When to plant potatoes in Melbourne

Potatoes can be planted at any time of the year in Melbourne.

They are easy to grow and are a great first-time crop for beginner gardeners.

Potatoes grow best in soil temperatures between 10°C and 30°C.

They need frost-free conditions because when exposed to frosts their growth will slow down dramatically and the tubers will be of lower quality.

They will grow just fine in more temperate months such as March through May or August through October.

They’ll do best if planted in fertile well-drained soil.

Can you grow potatoes in Melbourne winter?

The humble potato requires frost-free conditions.

While most of Victoria is liable to frost in Winter, the city of Melbourne usually only gets down to around 4ºC, which is warm enough to prevent frosts from occurring.

If you get frost in your area, planting times should avoid June or July, as these are our coldest months.

Likewise, being a cool-season crop, some varieties may struggle in the heat of Melbourne summer (particularly if planted in above-ground containers).

The best soil for growing potatoes

You’ll want to make sure your soil is well-drained and loose. It should also have a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, though you can amend it by adding lime or sulfur as needed.

You can test the pH of your soil with a soil testing kit from your local gardening centre.

Before planting, you can enrich your soil with compost, which will add nutrients and help it retain moisture.

What are seed potatoes?

Seed potatoes are the common way people plant potatoes in their garden. Seed potatoes are just regular potatoes that have been prepared so that they can be planted in order to grow new potatoes.

Seed potatoes are tubers (underground stems) that have been grown from a previous year’s crop of potatoes.

They may be purchased from nurseries and garden centres during the correct planting season for each area (check with a local garden centre for advice on when this is).

How to plant seed potatoes

  • Expose the seed potatoes to sunlight until they start to grow shoots
  • Prepare the soil
  • Dig a trench about 15cm deep
  • Plant seed potatoes with a spacing of 30 – 40 cm between each one (shoots facing upwards)
  • Backfill the trench with soil
  • Mound up some of the earth from either side to make it higher than the rest of your garden bed. This creates drainage for heavy rains.
  • Water well
  • Cover the shoot with soil when they appear

Potato pest control

Pests that you may encounter with your potato crop include:

  • Potato tuber moth (PTM)
  • Tomato potato psyllid (TPP)
  • Helicoverpa armigera
  • Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae)
  • Potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae)
  • Onion thrips
  • Tomato thrips
  • Western flower thrips
  • African black beetle
  • Cluster caterpillar
  • Bacterial wilt

To prevent pests, attract beneficial insects to your garden (a great way to do this is by building a garden that promotes biodiversity), mulch the soil heavily with straw, and practice crop rotation.

If you think you have a pest infestation, try to identify the pest before taking measures to treat the problem.

Fertilising potatoes

Potatoes are a heavy feeder and require plenty of nutrients as they grow. Fertilise your potatoes a couple of weeks after planting them.

Use an all-purpose fertiliser that isn’t too high in nitrogen.

Watering potatoes

Potatoes require regular watering.

Potatoes grow best when the soil is kept evenly moist, with the soil never fully drying out.

Aim for around 5 – 8cm of water per week and retain at least 20 cm of moist soil underground.

When to harvest potatoes in Melbourne

After a few months, it’ll be time to harvest your potatoes.

To harvest potatoes, wait until the leaves of your potato plant have died back (and the flowers may have bloomed).

Determinate vs indeterminate potatoes

When you’re deciding which type of potato to plant, there is an important factor to consider: determinate vs indeterminate potatoes.

  • Determinate potatoes grow in one layer only. This means you don’t need to mound soil around them.
  • Indeterminate potatoes grow in multiple layers and it’s therefore important to mound soil around them.