A friend was wishing she could grow potatoes, but couldn’t dig and hill them. I explained about planting potatoes my way.
Years ago, when I started teaching full time, I spent a weekend planting potatoes the old way. Dig a trench. Put in the potatoes. Cover them. Come back to pull more dirt over the new plants. Eventually dirt is hilled up around the plants.
My potatoes had their trench. They got covered. And I didn’t have time to come back. I had lesson plans and papers from six different science classes to take care of.
The giant ragweed moved in towering eight feet over those poor potato plants. When I tried to harvest the nubbins of potatoes, I used a saw to cut the ragweed down.
The next year I made shallow trenches, maybe half an inch deep as otherwise the potatoes would meander over the plot. Each seed potato was set out at intervals along the trenches. Mulch hay was piled up over the potatoes with tiny wells above each one.
The potatoes grew. The giant ragweed didn’t. Well, a couple tried and were pulled up.
Harvest time came. I shifted off the last of the mulch and picked up the potatoes.
From then on, over twenty years now, planting potatoes my way has seen some adjustments. The basics remain the same.
1) Set up the rows.
2) Set out the seed potatoes.
3) Cover the potatoes with mulch.
4) Add more mulch as needed to keep it six inches deep.
5) Pull the few weeds that insist on growing.
6) Roll back the mulch and pick up the potatoes at harvest.
Planting potatoes my way does mean smaller potatoes. Of course Yukon gold potatoes are smaller anyway. Mine are a medium size which is fine for us.
Mulch has advantages. Fewer weeds. No digging. Enriches the soil. Holds in moisture during dry spells. Keeps the ground cooler during hot spells.
Mulch does have problems. It usually comes with a seed load. It must be added to as it sinks over the season. It keeps the ground cold in the early spring. It can get water logged.
Planting potatoes my way works well for me here in the Ozarks. It isn’t perfect, but nothing about gardening is.