Planting Potatoes

I spent most of the day yesterday putting in my potatoes. Well… half of my taters. I planted two bo[;anting, potatoes, gardening, raised bedsxes in Yukon Gold as my early crop. Next month I will plant another two boxes in Russets as my main crop.  But before planting them I had to get the boxes ready.

To hold potatoes I need a double-depth box (2 2×8’s stacked) that I fill half-way with soil. To do this I have bottomless boxes that are used as the second level and are held in place on top of a regular box with pocket hole screws.  These screws can be backed out and the second level moved from box to box as I rotate crops each year.  I mixed 1½ pounds of composted chicken manure into the soil of each box to enrich the soil.

Then I used a modified Stout method of planting. The Stout method sows the potatoes on top of the soil then covers them with a thick layer of straw mulch. Regular planting puts them down about 3” then mounds dirt up around the stalks as they grow to keep the tubers covered. I plant my taters an inch or so deep, then 1½” of mulch on top — as a start. As I plant them, I mark the locations with a craft stick just behind the seed-spud – careful not to stab it!

planting, potatoes, gardening, raised beds  I planted the box in a checker-board fashion with 8 cells as potato and 8 cells as bush style green beans. I put 1½” of mulch over the potato cells – leaving a dimple over the potato for the shoot to rise through.  No mulch on the beans yet; there are 9 bean seeds per cell, I’ll wait for them to sprout and get a little size to them before mulching to discourage weeds and retain moisture – I don’t want to discourage my beans.  As the potato plants get tall (12″ or so) , I’ll mound up more mulch around the stalks to keep the tubers that will grow from them covered.  Sunlight makes the taters turn green and toxic. The mulch makes it easy to reach in and pull out young taters as they get to be golf ball sized. The deeper spuds will get large and be harvested later.

The white grid-like thing is one of two planting guides that I made from PVC pipe fittings; this one helps me plant things 1 or 9 plants to a cell, the other is made to plant 4 or 16 plants per cell (it’s made as 4 quarters, 16 get 4 plants in each quarter – I just eyeball them).  These take care of all the common planting schemes in the square foot gardening method.

My late crop potatoes will be co-planted with black beans. The late crop will be allowed to grow undisturbed for larger spuds, but I’ll use the same planting method. (NOTE: this co-planting scheme did NOT work out.  Here’s why.)

It rained last night, so I’m off to a good start – as long as the frosts are over with; that would hurt the bean seeds.  Since it is early April now the frosts should be done (here in Tennessee) but… ya just never know these days!

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13 Comments

  1. People here used to plants potatoes in their front yards to enrich the soil because of the high nitrogen content. They would rotate their crops from one year to the next. I never did that but esp the older folks would plant their lawns to spuds every two or three years.

    1. That is interesting… did they dig the spuds up or just leave them down there? Seems to me digging them up would destroy any lawn they had going, so I ‘spect they just left them and mowed the tops off at season’s end. An interesting way to enrich the soil under a lawn without chemicals. Thanks for sharing, Kenna!

      1. Interesting point about not actually eating the russets or whatever in the fall. Seems a bit of a waste, doesn’t it? But so does digging up a yard. I confess I don’t know what the neighbors did with their potatoes underground. They were a bit unsightly in the front yard but it was a common enough sight many years ago. I haven’t seen it lately. It seems that especially Europeans would do this when they got over here as immigrants, the older Europeans in particular, though I knew a younger German man who planted potatoes both front and back because he thought he might starve if he was out of work and wanted something hearty to eat. Remember the Irish potato famine, or was that a myth? Spuds are the staff of life.

        1. Ah, yes… the famine; summer of 1845. I remember it well. 🙂 Ghastly few years. A hard lesson in crop rotation. Spuds will let you grow three times the crop yield per acre of land as a grain crop, but you can’t grow potatoes year after year after year or diseases and fungus develop in the soil. Rotating the tater crop with a grain, like corn, would (probably) have prevented the blight and the famine. This was evidenced by the fact that even at the height of the famine, the British gentry in Ireland were still exporting their grain crops. My dad was a big meat & potatoes man. For myself, you can keep the beef, just give me the spuds: I love ’em.

    1. Spuds on the Spot? 🙂 Sadly, my traveling days are over. These days a trip into Newport is about as much as I can handle. But thanks for asking, Charles!

    1. Takes much longer now (frequent rest breaks) but Still getting it done. Had fresh asparagus omelets for breakfast this morning with the first of our asparagus sprouts. Yummy! Thanks for popping in, Greta!

      1. Sure. During the second world war green areas in cities were given over to growing food for the war effort. After the war these pieces of green land in cities were divided up into evenly portioned relatively small areas and people could apply to rent one to grow food, to help cope with rationing.To this day any UK citizen living in a city can put themselves on the list to get an allotment. My wife Lainy waited two years to get one here in Exeter. It was very overgrown, but we both worked hard to get it into reasonable shape and now Lainy goes up there at least once a week to work on it . I do the heavy lifting and digging for her now and again. Lainy loves gardening and growing stuff and it’s a good stress relief from her state school teaching work. I write to stress relieve, but I admire her dedication to her ‘gardening’ work. So that’s an allotment and the rent is very small even in this day and age, about $50 a year, so not bad. By the way how is your health,if you don’t mind me asking?

        1. Fascinating! What a wonderful program. Thank you for the explanation, Rich.

          I’m still kicking. 🙂 I guess I have not yet accomplished what God wants me to accomplish.

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