Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Potato Bed Planted

The rainy period broke over the weekend providing us with a few days of sunshine and warmer temperatures. Once the soil dried out, I began double digging and planted the rest of the potatoes.

I didn't take pictures of the process this time because I was dreading the labor and wanted to finish it quickly. Here is the finished bed mulched lightly with hay:



This bed is 5 ft wide x 19 ft long. A few weeks ago, I planted about 1/3 of the bed with the leftover Kennebec potatoes from last year. The newly purchase seed potatoes were allowed to chit for a few weeks and were planted yesterday.

I used the John Jeavons’ Potato Planting Method that Laura at The Modern Victory Garden introduced me to a few years ago. I documented it last year here.

John Jeavons “Grow Biointensive” gardening method involves double-dug beds, feeding the soil with compost, and planting closely to conserve spacing and create a microclimate. You can learn more here.

For potatoes, this method involves spacing the potato seed on 9-inches centers by 9-inches deep while double digging. The rows are planted in an offset, or hexagonal spacing. The closer spacing helps maximize space and reduce water loss. No hilling is required.

The potato bed is a fairly new garden bed dug last year. It was the first time I double dug this bed and it was obvious that it was part of the garden at one time. I found some plastic plant markers and a spoon deep in the soil. The soil was in really good condition as well.

Once the bed was planted, I leveled off the soil, laid a soaker hose, and mulched with some hay leftover from last year. Today the rain is giving the bed a nice deep watering.

15 comments:

  1. I bet that was a lot of work. I planted potatoes like that last year, but no potatoes for me this year. I'm going to try sweet potatoes as a replacement for them. I hope they work up here in the north.

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    1. I wanted to try sweet potatoes, but the potato I tried to sprout just began to grow roots. There is no way slips will be ready for planting in time. I can't wait to see how yours do.

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  2. Boy, I bet you are happy that job is done! I don't hill my potatoes. I mulch them with straw as they grow. I have been doing it this way since I moved to the city and had no space. It works out well. I'm sure that the method you use would work well for a small space too.

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    1. I tried hilling the first year growing potatoes and I hated the labor and the way the bed looked in progress. I will be heaping on more straw as the potato plants grow.

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  3. It's so great when the rain cooperates! i wish we had rain-on-command! Enjoy your spuds.

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    1. I was pretty excited to see the predicted weather pattern. One day break from the rain and the soil would have been too wet. Two days, and it was perfect. Then to have more rain water in the bed was a bonus.

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  4. It will all be worth it come harvest time.

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  5. Good work! The initial effort is harder with this method but then it is so no fuss for the remainder of the year. The added benefit is that the beds are gorgeous and just get better with each passing year thanks to the double digging. My potatoes are popping up all over the place in my potato patch. They are loving the sunnier/warmer spring we are having this year. Makes me optimistic that this might be a much better harvest year again.

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I hope this years yield is better than last years. The bed they are planted in is in much better condition and as long as I can provide enough water during dry spells to reach deep, I think they will be ok. I am glad you are having more warmth and sun this year.

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  6. I've never mulched spuds, but I was thinking of growing them in straw next year, the way the Scandinavians do!

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    1. The straw growing method seems much easier both at planting time and harvesting.

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  7. Wow, I have serious space envy. But what a lot of work. I am growing potatoes and yams on a VERY small scale in fabric Gro-pots in my driveway. My potatoes will be ready to harvest soon, but the yams will take much longer. I don't even know what kind of potatoes they are because they sprouted from tiny ones that got left behind last year, either blues or German butterballs.

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