Ultimate Guide to Growing Potatoes in Tasmania

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
September 30, 2023

With its unique climate and fertile soils, Tasmania offers a haven for potato enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, understanding the nuances of the Tasmanian terrain can make all the difference in your potato yield. This guide delves deep into the specifics of cultivating this beloved tuber in the heart of Australia’s island state. 

From selecting the right varieties to mastering the art of planting and harvesting, we’ve got you covered. And because Tasmania’s climate presents challenges and opportunities unique to potato farming, you’ll want to arm yourself with this knowledge to ensure a bountiful harvest. Dive in and discover the secrets to thriving potato patches in Tasmania.

Understanding Tasmania’s climate for growing potatoes

Tasmania’s geographical location gives it a distinct climate that stands out from the rest of Australia. Nestled south of the mainland, Tasmania’s weather patterns are influenced by the surrounding oceanic currents. 

The result? Cool summers that rarely see scorching heat waves and mild winters that provide a gentle touch rather than a frosty bite. This temperate climate, characterised by moderate temperatures and consistent rainfall, creates an environment where potatoes can truly thrive.

In regions where the heat can be relentless, potatoes often struggle. They require consistent moisture and a certain coolness to develop properly. Tasmania’s climate ensures that these tubers get exactly what they need. The even temperatures allow for a longer growing season, giving the potatoes ample time to mature.

For those keen on diving deeper into the specifics of Tasmania’s climate and its impact on agriculture, the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Fact Sheet is invaluable. It offers detailed insights backed by research to guide every aspiring potato farmer in the region. 

​​For a broader perspective on what to plant in this unique climate, check out our comprehensive guide on what to plant now in Tasmania.

What are the best potatoes to grow in Tasmania?

Regarding potato cultivation in Tasmania, not all varieties are created equal. Some thrive exceptionally well in the Tasmanian climate, offering a good yield, exceptional taste, and texture. Let’s delve into the top picks that have become favourites among local gardeners, including ourselves at Yard Work:

  • Royal Blue: This variety stands out with its deep blue-purple skin and pale yellow flesh. But it’s not just about looks; the Royal Blue is celebrated for its excellent taste and texture, making it a top choice for those gourmet dinners.
  • Dutch Cream: A potato that lives up to its name, it boasts a creamy texture complemented by a rich, buttery flavour. It’s a versatile choice, perfect for mashing or roasting.
  • Nicola: With its smooth skin and firm, waxy flesh, Nicola is a delight to cook. It holds its shape well, making it ideal for salads and boiling.
  • Pink Eye: Also known as the “Southern Gold,” this heritage variety is easily recognisable by its distinctive pink skin. It’s not just a pretty face; its creamy flesh is flavoured.
  • Kipfler: With its elongated finger-like shape, this fingerling potato is a favourite for roasting and frying. Its unique shape and nutty taste set it apart from the rest.

Choosing the right variety can make all the difference in your potato gardening journey. While these are some of the top contenders, we always encourage experimentation. After all, the joy of gardening often lies in the discoveries we make along the way.

Other Tasmanian potato varieties I enjoy grow

While the popular varieties have well-deserved fame, Tasmania’s rich soil and climate nurture lesser-known gems. These local and heirloom varieties might not always make the headlines. Still, they bring unique flavours and textures to the table. Here’s a list of some that we’ve grown fond of over the years:

  • King Edward: An old favourite with creamy-white flesh and a distinct nutty flavour. Perfect for roasting.
  • Toolangi Delight: A versatile all-rounder with purple skin and white flesh. It’s resistant to many common potato diseases, making it a reliable choice.
  • Up-to-Date: A classic heirloom variety known for its drought resistance. It has a floury texture, making it great for mashing.
  • Bintje: Originating from the Netherlands, this yellow-fleshed potato is waxy and holds its shape well in cooking.
  • Sapphire: As the name suggests, it has a beautiful blue-purple flesh. It’s not just about the looks; its flavour is equally captivating.
  • Patrone: A waxy potato with yellow flesh, it’s excellent for salads and boiling.

Exploring these varieties can add a touch of novelty to your garden and plate. Each brings its own story and taste, and we reckon there’s no better joy than discovering a new favourite!

If you’re also interested in how potato cultivation varies across regions, our guide on growing potatoes in Melbourne offers a different perspective.

When to plant potatoes in Tasmania

The optimal time to plant potatoes in Tasmania is between September and November, during the Spring. This period ensures that the soil temperature is just right, hovering around 10-15°C, which is crucial for the tubers to develop properly.

Why is this timing so important? Ensuring the right soil temperature and planting during these months can significantly increase the chances of a bountiful harvest, rewarding your gardening efforts.

How to plant potatoes in Tasmania: 5 effective steps

Planting potatoes in Tasmania is both an art and a science. With the region’s unique climate and soil conditions, following a tried-and-tested approach is essential. Here, we’ll guide you through five effective steps to ensure your potato crop thrives in the Tasmanian terrain.

1. Finding the right location

The first step in your potato planting journey is selecting the perfect spot. In Tasmania, this means choosing a location that receives ample sunlight throughout the day. Potatoes thrive with plenty of sun, which helps them grow strong and healthy. 

Equally important is ensuring the chosen spot isn’t prone to flooding. Excess water can lead to rot and other diseases, so well-draining soil is necessary. Remember, a little effort in finding the right location can set the stage for a bountiful harvest.

2. Soil preparation

The foundation of a successful potato crop lies in the quality of the soil. In Tasmania, it’s essential to prepare the ground well before planting. Start by loosening the soil using a garden fork or tiller, breaking up any hard clumps. This ensures that the young potato roots can easily penetrate the soil and access nutrients.

Next, enrich the soil by mixing in organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure. This boosts the soil’s fertility and improves its texture, promoting better drainage.

Lastly, it’s crucial to check the soil’s pH level. For potatoes, an ideal pH range is between 5.5 and 6.5. If your soil falls outside this range, consider adding lime (to raise pH) or sulphur (to lower pH) to achieve the desired balance.

Investing time in soil preparation sets the stage for a healthy and productive potato crop. 

3. Seed preparation

Before those seed potatoes touch the soil, there’s a crucial step we often recommend: chitting. Chitting, or sprouting, encourages your seed potatoes to sprout before planting. This gives them a head start and ensures you’re planting viable seeds that are eager to grow.

To chit your potatoes, lay them out in a single layer, with the ‘eyes’ facing upwards, in a cool, well-lit area. This could be a garage, a shed, or a north-facing windowsill. You’ll notice sprouts emerging from the eyes within a week or two. Once these sprouts are about 1-2 cm long, they can be planted.

This simple step can significantly affect the speed and vigour of your potato growth, ensuring a more consistent and bountiful harvest.

4. Planting methods: Hilling, trenching or container?

When it comes to planting potatoes in Tasmania, there are several methods to choose from, each with its advantages. However, one method has consistently proven effective in our region: Hilling.

The hilling method involves planting seed potatoes in shallow trenches and then gradually mounding soil around the plants as they grow. This protects the developing tubers from sunlight (which can turn them green and toxic) and provides ample space to expand.

To start with hilling:

  1. Dig a trench about 10-15 cm deep.
  2. Place the chitted seed potatoes, sprout-side up, at about 30 cm apart intervals.
  3. Cover them with soil, leaving a slight depression to aid in water collection.

As the plants grow, continue to mound soil around them, ensuring the tubers remain covered and protected. Given our specific climate and soil conditions, this method is particularly effective in Tasmania.

While trenching and container methods have their merits, we’ve found that hilling offers the best balance of protection, growth space, and yield for Tasmanian gardens.

5. Fertilisation and watering

Nourishing your potato plants is paramount to achieving a hearty harvest. 

Potatoes are hungry plants, and they thrive when given the right nutrients. Start by applying a balanced organic fertiliser at the time of planting. This will provide the initial boost they need. As the plants grow, consider side-dressing with compost or well-rotted manure to continuously feed them. Remember, it’s essential to avoid fertilisers high in nitrogen, as they can promote leafy growth at the expense of the tubers.

Additionally, consistency is key when it comes to watering potatoes. The soil should remain moist but not waterlogged. Inconsistent watering can lead to problems like “hollow heart” or potato scab. A good rule of thumb is to water deeply once a week, ensuring the soil is damp to a depth of about 10 cm. However, you might need to water more frequently during particularly dry spells.

By maintaining a balanced fertilisation routine and ensuring consistent moisture, you’re setting your potato plants up for success, paving the way for a bountiful harvest come season’s end.

A note on grow bags

Over the years, we’ve experimented with various planting methods, and one that’s stood out to us is the use of grow bags. Especially for those of us with limited garden space or challenging soil conditions, grow bags have proven invaluable.

These fabric containers offer a convenient and efficient way to cultivate potatoes. They’re portable, easy to set up, and can be placed on patios, balconies, or driveways. In our gardening journey, we’ve found them particularly useful when trying out a new potato variety without committing an entire garden bed.

However, there are a few key points to remember when using grow bags:

  • Drainage: The bags should have adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging. Overly wet conditions can lead to rot and other diseases.
  • Soil moisture: While the fabric design of grow bags promotes aeration, it can also lead to quicker evaporation. We’ve noticed that monitoring the soil moisture more frequently is crucial, ensuring it remains consistently moist but not soggy.

Incorporating grow bags into our gardening routine has been a rewarding experience, offering both flexibility and efficiency. We wholeheartedly endorse the idea if you’re considering giving them a go. Keep an eye on that soil moisture; you’ll be on track for a bountiful harvest.

When to harvest your potatoes 

In Tasmania, potatoes are typically ready for harvest 12-16 weeks after planting. 

However, a clear sign to look out for is the plant’s foliage. When it starts to yellow and die back, it strongly indicates that the tubers below are mature and ready to be unearthed. This natural process signifies that the plant has completed its growth cycle and the potatoes have stored all the necessary nutrients. By adhering to this timeline and observing the plants, we ensure that we’re harvesting potatoes at their peak in size and flavour.

How to harvest potatoes 

The moment has arrived, and it’s time to bring those potatoes to the surface. Here’s how we recommend going about it:

  1. Choose a dry day: It’s best to harvest when the soil is dry, making it easier to sift through and reducing the chances of the potatoes getting muddy or wet.
  2. Use the right tools: A garden fork or a shovel is ideal. Gently dig around the plant, starting a few inches away from the stem to avoid accidentally piercing the tubers.
  3. Lift with care: Once you’ve loosened the soil, gently lift the plant, allowing the potatoes to fall away. Be cautious during this process to avoid damaging the skin or flesh of the potatoes, as any cuts or bruises can reduce their storage life.

After harvesting, it’s a good practice to let the potatoes sit in a dry, shaded area for a few hours. This allows any residual soil to dry, making it easier to brush off. It also helps cure the skin, preparing it for storage. 

What to avoid when harvesting Tasmanian potatoes

Harvesting potatoes might seem straightforward, but some pitfalls can affect the quality and longevity of your crop. Here’s what we’ve learned to steer clear of when harvesting potatoes in Tasmania:

  • Wet conditions: While Tasmania’s climate can be unpredictable, avoiding harvesting during or after heavy rainfall is crucial. Wet conditions can cause the potatoes to become muddy, making them harder to clean. More importantly, damp potatoes are more susceptible to rot, both in the ground and during storage.
  • Damaging the tubers: Potatoes are surprisingly delicate, and any cuts, bruises, or breaks in the skin can become entry points for diseases. When harvesting, always handle it with care. Use tools gently and avoid digging directly into the potato cluster. Damaged potatoes not only have a shorter storage life but can also affect the quality of the surrounding tubers if stored together.
  • Leaving potatoes exposed: After unearthing them, ensure they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods. Prolonged exposure can cause them to turn green, indicating the presence of solanine, a natural toxin.

By being mindful of these potential pitfalls, we can ensure that our harvested potatoes remain in top condition, ready for storage or immediate consumption.

Potato storage tips in Tasmania 

After the joy of harvesting comes the responsibility of storage. Properly stored potatoes can last for months, providing a steady supply long after the growing season. In Tasmania, with its unique climate, there are specific considerations to consider. Here are our top tips for storing potatoes in the region:

  • Cool, dark, and ventilated: Potatoes are best stored in a cool, dark environment. A temperature range of 4-10°C is ideal. Basements or cellars often fit the bill, but a cool pantry or garage corner can work if you don’t have access to these. Ensure the area is well-ventilated to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to rot.
  • Avoid ethylene producers: Some fruits, like apples, release ethylene gas, which can speed up the sprouting process in potatoes. It’s essential to store potatoes away from such fruits. This gas can reduce the shelf life of your potatoes and affect their quality.
  • Check regularly: Every couple of weeks, checking on your stored potatoes is a good idea. Remove any that show signs of rot or sprouting. This ensures you’re consuming them at their best and prevents potential issues from affecting the entire batch.
  • Use breathable storage: Instead of sealing potatoes in plastic bags, use burlap sacks, paper bags, or cardboard boxes. These materials allow for better air circulation, reducing the risk of moisture-related issues.

By following these storage guidelines, we can maximise our potato harvest, enjoying this versatile tuber in many future meals.

Potato maintenance and care tips 

Growing potatoes in Tasmania is a rewarding experience, but like all gardening endeavours, it requires regular attention and care. Ensuring your potato plants are healthy guarantees a bountiful harvest and reduces the chances of pests and diseases. Here are some maintenance and care tips we’ve gathered over the years:

  • Pest and disease vigilance: Regularly inspect your potato plants for signs of pests like aphids, caterpillars, and potato beetles. Additionally, keep an eye out for diseases such as blight or scab. Early detection and intervention can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.
  • Hilling: One of the most essential care practices for potatoes is hilling. As the plants grow, mound soil around the base, covering the emerging tubers. This protects them from sunlight, which can turn them green and toxic, and encourages further tuber development. Hilling should be done every couple of weeks or whenever you notice tubers peeking out from the soil.
  • Watering consistency: While we’ve touched on this before, it’s worth reiterating. Potatoes need consistent moisture. Water deeply and regularly, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged. Inconsistent watering can lead to issues like hollow heart or potato scab.
  • Avoid over-fertilising: While potatoes benefit from a nutrient-rich soil, it’s essential to avoid over-fertilising. Excessive nitrogen can lead to lush foliage at the expense of tuber development.
  • Crop rotation: To reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases, rotating where you plant potatoes each year is a good practice. This break in the cycle can prevent many common potato diseases from taking hold.

With these care tips in mind, your potato plants will have the best chance to thrive, leading to a plentiful harvest and high quality. Remember, the key is regular attention and timely intervention.

Final thoughts

Growing potatoes in Tasmania is more than just a gardening endeavour; it’s a journey. With the region’s unique climate and fertile soils, Tasmania offers potato enthusiasts a canvas like no other. But, as with any journey, the experience is enriched with the right knowledge and a touch of care.

Over the years, we’ve seen that understanding the nuances of the Tasmanian terrain, selecting the right potato varieties, and following best practices in planting, care, and harvesting can make all the difference. It transforms the process from mere gardening to an art form, where each step is a brushstroke leading to a masterpiece—a bountiful harvest.

We hope this guide serves as a beacon for those just starting out or even seasoned gardeners, illuminating the path to potato-growing success in Tasmania. Remember, every tuber you unearth is a testament to your dedication and love for the craft. Are you looking to diversify your gardening knowledge further? Explore our planting guide for Brisbane or Sydney to understand the nuances of another unique Australian climate.


What is the best soil for potatoes?

The ideal soil for potatoes is well-draining and has a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. This ensures optimal growth and reduces the risk of tuber diseases.

What potato planting method is best for Tasmania?

In Tasmania, the hilling method is highly recommended. The most common approach is protecting the tubers and promoting healthy development.

How often should I water my potato plants in Tasmania? 

In Tasmania, it’s essential to maintain consistent soil moisture for potato plants. Typically, watering deeply once a week is sufficient, but you might need to water more frequently during drier spells.

Can I grow potatoes in containers or pots in Tasmania? 

Potatoes can be successfully grown in containers or pots in Tasmania, especially if space is limited. Ensure the container has adequate drainage and is large enough to accommodate the growing tubers.