The Q&A Archives: planting/growing potatoes

Question: This is my first time trying to grow potatoes and was wondering if its better to grow the potoatoes in a raised bed or to just plant them into the ground?

Answer: I like growing them above ground. Growing potatoes above ground saves space, makes harvesting easier, and often produces more potatoes per plant than regular garden planting. You can purchase "potato barrels", or simply create your own. Use a piece of chicken wire or hardware cloth to create cylinders about 3 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Loosen the soil underneath for good drainage, and set the cylinder in place. Place a layer of hay or other organic matter such as old rotted leaves in the bottom of the cylinder, and add a few inches of soil. Then plant your seed potatoes, about 4 per cylinder. Cover with another few inches of soil. Once the potato stalks have grown 4-6", add a layer of hay, then more soil, to cover the stalks, leaving just the top leaves showing. Continue in this fashion until you reach the top of the cylinder. You can begin harvesting when the first flowers appear, for those small, thin-skinned "new potatoes". Or wait until just before the first frost for full-sized potatoes. To harvest, simply remove the chicken wire and the potatoes will be easy to find! You could also plant inside a plastic garbage can that has had holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. Put about six inches of soil in the bottom, and start layering as described above. You can reach down and steal new potatoes and then dump the can out to harvest at the end of the season.

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