If you’ve thought about cultivating your own potatoes, now is the perfect time to start. However, before you begin you must consider the best method of planting for your garden. A few years ago, I conducted a test: I grew German Butterball potatoes using seven different planting methods. Through the growing season, the advantages and disadvantages of each one became clear.
Check out the various planting strategies you can think about and see which ones worked best and which resulted in less than stellar outcomes.
Cheapest: Hilled Rows
Dig shallow, straight trenches that are 2 to three feet from each other, into well-prepared soil. Plant the seeds at 12 inches distance and then cover with three inches. When the stems are the height of 10-12 inches Use a hoe or shovel, to remove up soil between rows and then place it over the plants, placing the stems halfway. Repeat the process as often as you need to throughout the season to cover the tubers.
In contrast to containers for gardening, it isn’t necessary to build or buy and there’s no soil that needs to be transported. It’s a straightforward cheap, easy to use, and tested method that farmers have employed for centuries. It’s a good option for large-scale plantations as well.
However, the condition of the soil could hinder production. In areas where the soil is poorly compacted or lacking of organic material, an above-ground method could be more effective.
Place the seed potatoes on top of prepared soil in the manner indicated for hilled rows. Then put them under 3-4 inches of seed-free, loose straw. The straw will be piled on top of them as the plants develop and eventually form an inch of straw or more deep.
The benefits here are that the mulch is thick and conserves soil moisture, and it also blocks all weeds. Harvesting is simple and doesn’t require digging. This method is suggested as a means to stop the Colorado potato beetle. But, it yielded a lower yield than the hilled row , and field mice are known to eat the crop beneath the cover of straw
Biggest Yield: Raised Beds
The soil should be loose in the middle of a semi-full raised garden. The seed potatoes should be spaced 12 inches apart across all directions . Then, place them in a 3-inch deep swath. As the potatoes develop you can increase the amount of till the beds are fully filled. If you can, make harvesting simpler by taking the sides off.
This method gave the most harvest I have ever seen as well as the potato crop was big in dimensions. Raised beds are an excellent option if the soil in your garden is heavy and not well-draining. The disadvantage is that the soil used to fill the bed must come from somewhere, and it requires a lot.
Good for DIYers: Wood Boxes
Make or purchase a low-cost square container The one I built made use of wood from pallets I had taken off — and then plant the identical way as you would for raised beds. The box is designed to allow you can build additional soil and slats as the plants develop. The idea is that you could take the bottom slat off to harvest, or turn it over.
Another method for cultivating potatoes is when the soil is poor. The results were similar as those raised beds. However there was lots of time and effort was put into making the box, and I was of the opinion that the result didn’t justify the work.
Best for Wet Yards: Wire Cylinders
Utilizing a hardware cloth made of the 1/4-inch mesh, create an 18-inch cylinder in diameter and about 24 inches in height. Add a few inches of soil to the bottom. Then, plant 3 or 4 seed potatoes. Cover them with three inches of dirt. Continue adding soil as the potato plants grow. To harvest take the cylinder off and then pull back the soil so that the potatoes are exposed.
In a region, that experiences constant spring rains wire mesh could help to drain the soil and keep the soil from becoming waterlogged. Another method of raising the soil to think about where the soil is deficient. Unfortunately, I was able to harvest only tiny amounts of unsized tubes from the cylindrical which was a disappointing performance likely due to the soil-compost mixture I chose to use dried out rapidly so that the plants did not have enough moisture.
Easiest Harvest: Grow Bags
Commercial grow bags are constructed of heavy and tough polypropylene. You can place a few inches of soil-compost mix into the bottom of the bag. Then, plant three or four pieces of seed potatoes and cover them with three inches of dirt. Continue adding soil as plants develop till the bag becomes completely full. To harvest, flip the bag over and empty the contents.
Grow bags can be used on driveways or patios areas where the soil is deficient in nutrients. They should last for a long time. Their dark-colored color reflects the sun’s heat and accelerates growth. Harvesting is easy and the result is impressive when you consider the tiny area each bag takes up. But, it can be expensive. The bag I purchased cost $12.95.
Best to Skip: Garbage Bags
The garbage bag, in the same manner, fills a grow bag by piercing holes into the plastic to drain. You can roll the top of the bag in order to allow it to remain upright. Otherwise, the bag will sink and release soil. To harvest, tear the bag in half and empty the contents.
Similar to grow bags, garbage bags can be used when in-ground cultivation is not feasible. The black bags absorb solar energy to accelerate the growth of young plants. In terms of aesthetics, however, this is not the most attractive option. The yield was low possibly due to the thin plastic allowing the soil to heat too quickly, which slowed the formation of tubers.