I've never grown potatoes before, but hot damn, this year I'm going to try.
I have a pile of local red potatoes with impressive eyes, and I'm ready to plant them. I have a nice patch of well drained, relatively loose soil in a corner of my property on the side of my greenhouse.
My question is, what the are the permaculture considerations for potato growing? Do I fully cover them with dirt, or just a sprinkle? Should I add aged manure to my potato trench?
I don't know - how do you grow your potatoes permies people? I'm in a cold montane zone, but I think I can get away with putting them out now. The soil's been workable for about a month now.
My climate is super different from yours, but maybe my experiments might give you some ideas. I've only tried to grow potatoes a few times. This year mine are planted in a raised bed of old chicken bedding and good soil over buried wood (not hugelkultur; in my beds the wood does not rise above the general level of the soil and paths). I purchased a bag of mixed variety organic fingerling potatoes at the grocery store and placed them on the surface of this bed, and covered each with good soil. I chose to use a raised bed because I was planting while it was still cold, and wanted this part of the garden to warm fast. They seem to be doing great, much better than previous attempts. In the next couple days I'll be adding mulch around them.
@Destiny H.: "...how do you grow your potatoes permies people? I'm in a cold montane zone, but I think I can get away with putting them out now. "
In a precedent setting year, I may actually till the garden this weekend. Normally this is reserved for the first weeks in May, but it's been unusually dry and even with a few snow flurries in the air, the soil seems ready to till. If you put your spuds in now, it should not be a problem as long as you plan to just have a few frosts between now and summer. If sprouts/shoots do emerge and you are slated to get a frost, just cover them with a tarp or something for the duration of that frost period.....as soon as it's gone, you can uncover them. Potatoes are a fun educational crop and can be grown many different ways. Friends in town just create a wire-mesh "bin", drop them into there and cover them with mulch. As they sprout through the mulch they add a bit more mulch allowing the foliage to finally overgrow the mulch placed in the bin....water as needed. In the fall, remove the cage and sift through the mulch to find the new potatoes. Others we know have just stuffed the sprouting potatoes into a loose straw bale that is sitting with the pointy straw ends pointing upward. Add some compost nutrients and water.....plants will grow and potatoes form within the bale. We just do the usual rows.....aged manure cultivated into a hilled row. They are placed somewhat on top, then hilled again. We use two rows of potatoes spaced about 2 ft apart per row of "hill": Create a depression between the two rows so that you can just add water to the long depression and it will sink in watering both rows in mid-summer. There can be some insects and diseases in summer to contend with, but best to wait until then to see if you have any problems.
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