Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Peter Cundall and the no dig potato method

I love Peter Cundall, perhaps almost as much as he loves Kale.

I frequently quote his suggestions - "well Peter Cundall says this....., Peter would do it this way, hmmm that's not what Peter would do"
boring all those around me.
C'mon guys. The man knows his stuff!

Who can resist that warm voice,
his genuine smile,
his environmental ethics,
his health tips,
those decades of gardening know how,
his infectious enthusiasm,
he's irresistable,
how I miss him on Gardening Australia!

I was going to write about Peter's method for growing potatoes on grass as he suggests in this issue of Organic Gardener, my favourite magazine. 

Fortunately Suburban Tomato has done a wonderful job of it for me -  looks like a more professional potato patch too.

I planted my potatoes while the sun shone last week.  I found it hard to get the straw and manure to the prescribed height of 50cm straw.  At $12 a bale they will be expensive potatoes! Two bags of sheep manure on mine and it barely made an impact - need to get some more. Like Suburban Tomato I couldn’t leave the grass, mostly invasive couch, it felt wrong! The grass surrounding the bed is actually native wallaby grass so my partner wouldn't let me come any further out. It is pretty special to have a big patch of wallaby grass, the heads look pretty in seed come summer. I gave the ground a fair hack with a mattock too - it's heavy clay, the mattock bounced on a tree root and hit my knee.  Ouch, that will teach me for not following Pete's advice. Actually the whole technique felt a bit weird, but Peter has never failed me before. I’ve had poor results with the potato in the bag technique – the soil on my first try was too dry (ok small potatoes) and then the following too wet (rotting poatoes). 

I planted kipflers, dutch creams (donated to me by my lovely neighbour), purple congos, pontiacs and King Edwards.  All chitted or found resprouting in old patches. Cross my fingers this technique works.  Should have a great garden bed post potato harvest in any case.

Just checked out you tube and he can explain it better that I can, wish he'd mentioned the newspaper in the magazine. 

And that, my friends, is your bloomin lot!


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  2. You make me laugh! Even though I'm not a die hard, I miss Peter too when I tune in to GA. You will have lots of culinary delights to look forward to. Home made gnocchi made from home grown potatoes, yum!

  3. Very amused that we chose to write on the same thing at the same time, and that we both chose to start by focussing on Peter Cundall. I'm sure my bed isn't more professional - good camera angles hide all sorts of deficiencies I find. I paid $15 for my straw so my potatoes are even more pricey. I think my total cost was about $60 plus another $15 for the seed potatoes so to break even (Kipflers are $6.00kg at Woolworths this week) I reckon I need 12.5kg of harvest - you never know.....

  4. Peter Cundall is amazing. He is like an older Australian version of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (another gardening guru).
    I'm looking forward to seeing how your potatoes come along.

  5. I miss Peter too..GA is just not the same without him. Tino eases the pain somewhat and reminds me of a younger Pete. Did you see him on Q and A? So passionate!

    An interesting array of spuds you have planted..hope all goes well for a bumper crop.

    I forgot to mention too, how disappointing it is that The Slug did not provide seeds! No travel pillows from the garden this year. :(

  6. Will have to get a good gnocchi recipe from you Kimbamel. 12.5 kg Liz, if we get anything like Pete's harvest we'd easily make it. It's not about the money though - the joy of finding those fellows in the soil, bliss. Ah Hugh, another gorgeous man, that's a whole other post and yes Tino is awesome Christine. Gardening men, adorable - Vasili, Costa.... love a man who likes to get his hands dirty. ;)


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young