Easiest way to grow potatoes

Potatoes.  Who doesn’t love potatoes?  I know I do.  And I love how easy they are to grow.  If I was ever to get involved with growing  large amount of some crop, ala, monoculture, I would choose potatoes over our traditional (at least around here) corn and soybean rotation.

Check out this article on Sustainablog about easy ways to grow potatoes.  I think these are two good suggestions, but I like my method better, which I’m going to share with you.  It’s similar to his method #2 but provides a bit more safety from weeds and grass growing through your bed.

Method 1-otherwise known as the one where you plan ahead

When I need to plant potatoes I usually plant them on virgin soil that I want to eventually grow on.  I start the planting area in the fall by collecting lots of leaves.  Then I make a huge pile of them in the area that I want to grow the potatoes on (sometimes with cardboard under them and sometimes not).  Over the fall and winter these leaves will decompose, as will all the weeds and grass that is under the leaves.  When the spring comes I simply pull back the leaves and stick the potato seed in the ground and cover it back up with the leaves.  Now, as the summer progresses I cover the plants with grass clippings.  Voila!  When the tops die you’ll be able to dig up the potatoes and eat them.

In summation

  1. Collect leaves and make them into a pile.
  2. Let them decompose over the winter.
  3. In the spring make a hole and set your seed potato in the hole.
  4. Cover up with your remaining leaves.
  5. As the summer progresses cover with leaves or grass clippings.

The best part of this setup is that after you harvest the potatoes you have created a new raised bed that will be filled with mostly composted soil that you can plant right into.  Essentially you’ve composted the soil you’ll need in place!  I’m thrifty with my energy like that.

Method 2-wherein you didn’t plan well enough 

Now, if you want to grow potatoes and it’s spring and you didn’t plan ahead (I promise I won’t judge you) this is how I do would do it.

  1. Put down a healthy layer of newspaper or cardboard.  (cardboard is better)
  2. Toss down a little bit of compost to give them just a bit of nutrients.
  3. Put down your seed potato chunks.
  4. Cover with leaves, straw or grass clippings.
  5. When the tops die back you can simply reach under the mulch and harvest the potatoes.
  6. If you let these clippings continue to decompose you’ll have a nice bed of compost shortly.
There you go.  I think he and I are on the same page except that I like to set up the bed in the fall.  I also like to put down cardboard to kill the grass if I don’t pile up enough leaves to kill it for me.
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