TO GET THE LARGEST POSSIBLE HARVEST OF POTATOES, it is necessary to “hill” the plants. To do this, you simply mound soil, shredded leaves or straw over the vines, until only the uppermost leaves are exposed to the sun. It is under this mounding-material that new potato-making stems or “stolons” form. I’m hilling my own potatoes today. Would you like to watch?
Above: As you can see, my seed potatoes are planted in a timber-framed bed. The bed is only half-filled with soil, in order to later accommodate hilling-material. I’ve let the vines grow to about 8 inches in length.
With hilling, the goal is to keep adding material each time the vines add 6-8 inches to their stature. If you grow your potatoes in the open ground, you can hill and hill until the vines finally flower. But if you grow your tubers in a raised bed, as I do, hilling generally stops when the top of the bed is reached. Unless, of course, you are aiming for a “Mount Vesuvius” effect, as illustrated above.
Anyway, if you haven’t planted your potatoes yet, don’t worry – there’s still time to get them in the ground. Believe me, having a store of tubers in your cold cellar (or unheated spare room) will give you one less reason to visit the supermarket during winter. And what’s not to like about that?
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