Last week, I ceremoniously dug up part of the back yard to plant potatoes. It seems each year the garden gets bigger and the lawn smaller to accommodate this easy to grow crop. Since deer and groundhogs don’t bother them, I locate them outside the garden fence and put them in new ground.
First, I dug over a 4′ x 16′ patch of lawn in full sun where I wanted the spuds to go.
Then, I added lots of compost from my pile and worked it into the soil.
I laid out the potatoes and measured the space for each variety, giving each seed, or piece, 16″ of room from the next. I didn’t even bother to bury them, just left them on top of the soil, since I planned to mulch thickly with hay. Pictured here are Magic Molly, a purple fingerling, and Bernadette, a yellow fleshed variety. “Seed potatoes” are available from many companies in the Northeast. I like Fedco and High Mowing Seeds for the unusual varieties and the local Agway for the old standards like Yukon Golds and Red Chieftains.
The thick mulch layer will hold moisture in the bed, help regulate wild fluctuations in temperature and keep weeds down while the potatoes grow. Yes- they can grow through the mulch. As they grow, I bunch up the mulch around the stems of the plant, rather than the traditional method of “hilling” soil up around them. This is just one of many ways you can grow potatoes in a small space. I’ve heard of people planting them into garbage cans and boxes, and layering soil and mulch on top of them to create a vertical kind of growing situation. Sounds cool- maybe you have tried it with success?