We grow potatoes in our 'raised' beds. Our garden uses rows of composts that we have mounded on top of cardboard, directly onto former grassland pasture. The rows/mounds follow the contour lines of the garden to try and retain water, with frequent spaces for paths. The paths, between each row, are woodchipped using more cardboard for weed and grass suppression.
This method makes planting and pulling the potatoes incredibly easy. The soil is loose enough that I can plunge my hand into it, up to the elbow in some places, and root around with my fingers for the potatoes. This minimises soil disturbance (which I value) and is quite fun. I tend to start by pulling out the whole plant and shaking it, dislodging the soil from the root system and dumping the still-attached potatoes onto the bed for me to collect. There are always some that I have to go fishing for, using the technique I just described.
We plant the potatoes directly into the mound and do very little 'earthing up'. The potatoes seem to grow downwards in the loose soil without much difficulty.
Timothy Norton wrote:How much garden space do you dedicate to potatoes?
This year we grew 2 small beds, approximately 1.2x5m each (approximately 12m2, 130 sq. ft.). We grew mostly an early, white variety although there was also a small patch of purple potatoes too. I think we yielded about 35kg from ~4kg of seed potatoes. It was a bad year for potatoes this year, however, with all the local farmers suffering, and we expect to grow more from a similar area next year.
As a proportion of our garden, we grew in 2 of the smaller beds. It was maybe 7.5% of our growing area. Despite occupying a small area, potatoes (and also squash) form the majority of the calories
Timothy Norton wrote:Is there really such a thing as too many spuds?
In my view this is a yes
. For my partner and I, 50kg is about perfect. We can eat all of the potatoes before they start to green up and sprout and we can save a few to grow on the next year. Last year we ended up with about 120kg of potatoes as we are also members of a community garden. This was too many and we ended up selling quite a few.
Given that my labour costs for planting and harvesting are very little - only an hour or two for each process - I would gladly grow many more potatoes if I had a good way to sell/trade or gift them. Next year I suspect we will grow many more.