FOR THE PAST TEN SPRINGS, I’ve planted my seed-potatoes in deep holes, and then “hilled” the developing plants with soil. This method, which you can witness here, never failed to produce an enormous crop. But this year, purely for the sake of experiment, I tried a different, and infinitely-easier approach. Have a look:
Of course, as the straw exceeded the height of the raised bed, I had to find a way to contain it. Otherwise, the material might topple over the edge of the bed.
I purchased 4 pieces of the cheapest pine my lumber store had to offer. The lumber yard cut the boards just slightly smaller than my existing hemlock-framed bed. This raised the planting quarters by 12 inches.
Because the pine frame is light-weight, I can easily lift it, and transport it to the garden shed for winter-storage. And because I rotate my crops each year, the frame can be used at different beds in the Kitchen Garden over subsequent years.
Did you know that soil – when it is covered with a 12-inch layer of straw — will remain moist and cool for a stunningly-long time? Honestly, I watered my potato bed only twice during the entire growing season.
But what kind of harvest would this method produce? The results were revealed this morning, when I removed straw from one small portion of the bed.
I found potatoes! True, the spuds were slightly smaller than their soil-grown kin. But they were oh-so-easy to harvest. With my previous method, I had to use a pitchfork to dig up the crop. And usually I speared half the potatoes with the aforementioned pitchfork. But these straw-immersed potatoes were a cinch to harvest by hand. And they were fairly clean, too.
As an extra bonus, insect damage was non-existent. Why, I’m not sure. Perhaps the garter snakes (these are abundant on my property) burrowed their way into the straw, and ate all of the pests. Now, at harvest time, the snakes are hibernating. So there were no creepy-crawly surprises when I removed the straw and uncovered my loot.
And what became of all the straw I removed? Well, I have a wire-mesh compost bin directly behind the potato bed. So in went the straw, which, unless it entirely decomposes over winter, will be perfectly useable for next year’s crop.
In summary, I’ll just say that if you want a really big potato harvest, you should probably plant your tubers in soil, and then hill them with additional soil. Otherwise, if you are willing to have a slightly-smaller but still-respectable crop, then simply lay your seed-potatoes on a bed of loose soil, and then mulch them, over the growing-season, with plentiful straw. This last method will definitely conserves water, and the potatoes which develop will be a breeze to harvest.
If this post was the least bit helpful to you, by all means let me know. As always, I cherish your thoughts.
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