Potatoes grow in the ground, but as the plants grow up they have the capability to send out more potatoes if the plants are covered up throughout the growing season. This process is called “hilling” and can be done by hand with a hoe or with a human- or machine-powered hiller. You can make a simple, yet effective potato hiller that is human powered as a do-it-yourself project. A DIY potato hiller will save you the time and energy involved in hilling each row using a hoe but at the same time will not require a costly commercial machine hiller.
Things You'll Need
- 2 boards, 2-by-2-inch, 24 inches long
- Miter saw
- 2-by-2-inch board, 6 inches long
- 3-inch coated wood screws
- Screw gun
- Hinge, with screws
- 2-by-2-inch board, 72 inches long
- 2-by-2-inch board, 18 inches long
- Cinder block
- 2 bungee cords
Place one 2-by-2-by-24-inch board on the table of the miter saw. Adjust the saw to cut at a 45-degree angle. Cut off one end of the board at a 45-degree angle. Remove the board and repeat the process to cut one end of the second 2-by-2-by-24-inch board at a 45-degree angle.
Place the 2-by-2-by-6-inch board flat on a work surface so that it is vertically oriented, lengthwise. Position the mitered end of each 2-by-2-by-24-inch board against each side of the 2-by-2-by-6-inch board. Locate the mitered ends at the bottom of the 2-by-2-by-6-inch board so that the entire assembly forms an upside down “Y” shape. This is the plow assembly for the potato hiller.
Drive two evenly spaced 3-inch coated wood screws through the 2-by-2-by-24-inch boards into the 2-by-2-by-6-inch board to fasten the assembly together using a screw gun.
Center a hinge on the top end of the 2-by-2-by-6-inch board in the plow assembly. Half of the hinge should extend past the top end of the board. Drive the screws that were included with the hinge through the mounting holes into the board using a screw gun.
Butt one 2-by-2-inch end of the 2-by-2-by-72-inch board up against the top end of the 2-by-2-by-6-inch board in the plow assembly. Fasten the hinge to the 2-by-2-by-72-inch board where it butts up against the 2-by-2-inch end of the 2-by-2-by-6-inch board using the included screws and a screw gun.
Place the 2-by-2-by-18-inch board perpendicular to the 2-by-2-by-72-inch board. Center the 18-inch length of the board over the top end of the 2-by-2-by-72-inch board. This is the handle of the potato hiller. It should form a “T” at the top of the upside down “Y” assembly. Drive two evenly spaced coated wood screws through the 2-by-2-by-18-inch board into the top end of the 2-by-2-by-72-inch board.
Position the cinder block across the upside down “Y” assembly where the “Y” begins to separate. Loop one bungee cord through each hole in the cinder block and wrap it around the respective branch of the “Y.” Hook the ends of the bungee cords together to fasten the cinder block to the upside down “Y.” The cinder block acts to weigh down the hiller so that the branches in the “Y” push the soil up against the sides of the plants.
Tips & Warnings
- Paint the assembly in an exterior house paint to help preserve it for many years of hilling potatoes in the garden.
- Wear eye protection when woodworking to help prevent possible injuries.