• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • paul wheaton
  • Devaka Cooray
stewards:
  • Burra Maluca
  • Miles Flansburg
  • Julia Winter
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Anne Miller
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Mark Tudor
  • Pearl Sutton

no dig potatoes  RSS feed

 
Posts: 9
Location: denmark
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everyone, hoping someone can help me out here. I have an established kitchen garden in its third year now, no till. everything going great. I have found that with  growing potatoes, the old "trench and heaping" method works the best, but of course does not conform to the rest of the no dig method I am using. my problem is that if I am growing potatoes in the same beds as everything else, when I rotate the crops, I end up having to dig up my previously untilled beds, which I'm not happy about, so I'm wanting to hear if anyone has a solution to this? I have tried growing potatoes several different ways, but the old traditional method yields the best results. to clarify, I used a subsoil plow on the kitchen garden three years ago, and rototilled it, when I first established it, and have since only been adding compost to the beds without further tilling, which has so far been delivering impressive results. I am considering starting a whole new garden just for potatoes, seeing as how they thrive here in the soil I have minimal maintenance apart from the hilling every now and again, so I could dedicate a space intended to be dug, tilled, etc, move it the following year, etc. until finally rotating back to where I started. so in other words, a garden dedicated to just potatoes. any input or experienced advice appreciated! thanks in advance.
 
gardener
Posts: 5112
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
619
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To keep your garden no till, potatoes are not a crop for that garden.

I like to use feed bags (I have three every week from animal feeds) these can be rolled down, put in 6 inches of soil and plant the seed potato and cover with 6 inches of soil, as the potatoes grow, just add soil once the plant is up around 8 inches, just leave two inches above the soil level.
My feed bags are white so the soil doesn't get really hot and kill the potatoes from the heat.
I put mine on a side of the house that gets morning sun and late afternoon shade.
Harvest is super easy, just pour out the potatoes and soil.

The only other option would be planting buckets or another large container (these didn't work for me, we get too much sun and heat).

Redhawk
 
pollinator
Posts: 196
Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's my experience with heavy straw mulch and potatoes. This is what I would call "minimal digging" (only half a shove full), but your mileage may vary as your climate is probably different than mine.

Something I'd consider with your experimental trials is that maybe the potatoes you are using produce the best results via the traditional method because that's how they were originally grown. I only got maybe 5 out of 200 plants that produced really well in the straw mulch and that's expected on the first year of them from a drastic environmental change. I'll be trying that method again this year, and I feel certain the percentage of great plants will at least double if not more.

 
judd ripley
Posts: 9
Location: denmark
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
thanks for the quick responses! great suggestions and advice. thank you!
 
Posts: 66
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
19
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I didn't check the whole above-mentioned thread, but you might want to google 'Ruth Stout method' or look on YouTube for it. I'm not sure if this old lady was the one who originated it all, but it'll certainly give you more anecdote!
 
Posts: 66
Location: Zone 4B, Maine, USA
11
books chicken forest garden homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

J Grouwstra wrote:I didn't check the whole above-mentioned thread, but you might want to google 'Ruth Stout method' or look on YouTube for it. I'm not sure if this old lady was the one who originated it all, but it'll certainly give you more anecdote!



It's difficult to say who may have tried it first, but she certainly had results she was happy with! Other New Englander (USA) homesteaders/gardeners that had good luck with the mulch method included Scott & Helen Nearing, Eliot Coleman, and Will Bonsall. I'm going to try this method for the first time this year. Though around here the "mulched potato" grow almost always seems to increases rodent problems. I have some ideas about that.

Yet Redhawk's suggestion is very interesting! I'm definitely going to mull that over. Good thing I won't be getting my seed potatoes for another month!
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 5112
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
619
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you use my bag method you can use rotted straw as the layer material instead of all soil.
Two years ago we tried three methods; in ground and hilled, in a 50 gal container with fresh straw, and we tried the bag method with soil.
The first method had vole damaged tubers, the second had heat kill the bag method gave us a fair number of good tubers.
This year I'm going to trial Yukon gold potatoes and red potatoes in the feed bags both with soil all the way and with soil bottom to start the growth then rotted straw for the layer fillings.
Our main key is to keep the right amount of moisture in the "soil" for best growth rate.

I am certain that there are many good ways to grow spuds, I'm just trying to find the best one(s) for Buzzard's Roost.

Redhawk
 
master steward
Posts: 6330
Location: Pacific Northwest
1907
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I did a no-dig method with my potoatoes last year. It was my first year growing potatoes, but it seemed to work pretty well.

I first off removed most of the weeds (it was COVERED in buttercup). I let my three year old have fun with this tool


With my son having a blast in there, the first 2 inches of soil got lightly tilled, I guess. But, it probably wasn't necessary to "till" that deeply.

I made a slight row, about half the depth of a seed potato. Put the potatoes in the row. Then I covered it with mulch: woodchips, duck bedding, leaves, lawnclippings, whatever. I kept adding mulch as the potato plants got taller, up to about 2 feet (according to this article https://www.cultivariable.com/potato-towers/ I really didn't need to).

Come fall, I just used my hands to find the  potatoes that were growing in the mulch. Very easy to harvest!

I'm making two more beds pretty much the same way this year. I smothered the buttercup with a layer of papersacks (one layer thick) over winter with a few inches of duck bedding on top. A lot of the buttercup grew through that. Then I dug a little trench/row through the mulch to the dirt layer. I couldn't even find the paper sacks--they all decomposed, I guess. Then I covered with mulch. As the potatoes grow, I'll keep adding mulch. THis should (1) cover the potatoes and protect them from sunlight, and (2) smother the buttercup.

Here was my potato bed. The mulch went all the way to the top of the fence that was put there to keep the chicken out. I probably didn't need to mulch that high.


Here's the yield for one of the potato plants
 
pollinator
Posts: 1732
152
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you are expanding your garden, you might consider what i am doing.  This is my first year so i dont have results,  but it makes sense in my mind.

Potato is the first crop in my new bed. The new bed is simply a 2x6 box. I plant the potatos shallow, then as they grow i fill in the box. Soil, aged manure, straw, whatever i have on hand goes in the box. After i harvest
the bed now has rich organic matter for the following year,  and i'll make a new one for next years potatos.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 6330
Location: Pacific Northwest
1907
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wayne, I think you're very much onto something there! Attached is an updated picture of my potato bed after the mulch decomposed all fall/winter. Even though I covered the potatoes with a good two feet of mulch, it decomposed down to about 4 inches of pretty nice soil. And, there's no weeds! I think this will be one  of my go-to methods for making new garden beds.
DSCF0013.jpg
[Thumbnail for DSCF0013.jpg]
Potato bed about 6 months after harvest.
 
pollinator
Posts: 563
Location: mountains of Tennessee
107
bee chicken homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Several years ago I started a new garden at an old dairy farm we were reviving. Needed a fast & easy garden. Had a large supply of used tires & an even larger supply of well composted cow pie & hay mix. Plus about a thousand old hay bales. I spread a foot of hay on the ground & then topped with a foot of manure compost.

That was the main garden area. Then I surrounded (almost) the garden with old tires. Added the same hay & manure into the tires but not as thick. Then planted potatoes in them. As the potatoes grew I just kept adding the compost & stacking up the tires for "hilling". It was 4 or 5 levels high by end of season. Massive amounts of potatoes. My first time to ever try growing potatoes. MN climate was very different than Tejas.

For the record that same manure grew a broccoli head larger than a basketball & a kohl rabi almost volleyball sized. Humongous squash too. All were very tasty too. That was some amazing cow pie!!!

This year I'm filling a large hole with a new hugelkulture. Potatoes & sweet potatoes will be planted there this year. Have to grow them somewhere. The soil (more helpful cows nearby) will remain long after the taters are gone. Ultimately it will be an asparagus patch. Same basic idea as the tires just on a larger scale. And no tires.







tatersDSCI0002.jpg
[Thumbnail for tatersDSCI0002.jpg]
taters in tires
 
gardener
Posts: 403
Location: SoCal USA
58
bike cat dog tiny house trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul Gautschi seems to have great success with deep mulch:  


He pulls away the mulch to harvest in the fall, puts the biggest potato back in for next year, covers it back up and that's it. The potato comes back up the next year and he repeats, so only 1 disturbance per year which seems to me to be the minimum possible.
 
Posts: 512
Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
you might use the potatoes to establish new hügel-beds like in this video:

 
Posts: 63
Location: Washington coast
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The biggest problem with no dig systems is that you will never get all the tubers without digging.  Those missed tubers become volunteers.  Where you have potato volunteers, you will eventually have disease.  Once disease starts, it is very hard to stop.  There are two ways to reliably get the volunteers: herbicide and tillage.

So, from that standpoint, if you must grow potatoes in a no-dig system, I would recommend always fallowing or rotating to a species that does not host the same diseases following the crop.  You then must be vigilant about destroying volunteers.  Because most of the common potato viruses are aphid transmitted, it doesn't take much inattention to end up with a big problem.

This was observed in pre-European Andean agriculture and still is to a great extent in the highlands.  Potatoes are grown as the first crop after fallowing.  Other crops succeed it, but it is not grown back to back and the cycle finishes with a multi-year period of fallowing.

The success of methods like growing under straw or heavy mulch is very dependent on environment, as is every growing practice of course.  I have severe rodent problems when growing under straw.
 
wayne fajkus
pollinator
Posts: 1732
152
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Charles dowding (youtube channel,  from uk) is an avid no tiller. He even planted 2 identical beds (tilled, no tilled) to see end results.

On his potato episode,  he harvested his potatos by pulling the plant up. The potatos came up with it. Its a testament to how great his soil is with the amount of organic matter he adds every year. I suspect he planted them by just pushing them in the soil. His soil is that good.

Not related to potatos, but something that was cool is carrots that fork. The old adage is too much organic matter causes them to fork. In his till vs no till the turned soil had forked carrots the no till did not. It was not a night and day difference between the 2 beds overall. Both got good harvests. But you could see that the no till was slightly bigger and healthier looking. It is worth watching.
 
Too many men are afraid of being fools - Henry Ford. Foolish tiny ad:
Perennial Vegetables: How to Use Them to Save Time and Energy
https://permies.com/t/96921/Planting-Perennial-Vegetables-Homestead
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!