Potatoes can be a labor intensive vegetable to care for and harvest. You have alternatives to growing your potatoes in soil that will make it easier and cleaner at harvest time. Straw is good for growing your potatoes above the surface of the soil and it helps to maintain a consistent soil temperature that results in better shaped potato tubers. Sand can also be used to reduce the amount of soil around your potatoes and to help improve soil drainage.
Things You'll Need
- Garden hoe
- Potato seed pieces
- Hand shovel
Check to make sure the soil is dry and warm in early spring before beginning to plant your potatoes.
Mix compost into the topsoil in your garden area with the hoe. Mix the compost through the top 3 to 4 inches of soil evenly.
Plant your potato seed pieces just below the surface, so that they are just barely covered with soil. Space each seed piece you plant about a foot apart and in rows about 2 feet apart.
Loosen the straw from the bale. Spread it loosely over your garden area at a depth of 6 inches. Add just enough water each day to moisten the straw, but don't let it get soggy.
Add more straw around the potato plants as they begin to emerge. Add 4 to 6 inches of straw around the plant gradually as the plant reaches maturity.
Harvest your potatoes after the potato vines have died in the fall. Harvest the potatoes by removing the straw and picking them up.
Dig a 4-foot-deep trench in your garden area. Space each trench about 2 feet apart. Make a mixture of 30 percent sand with 70 percent sawdust in a bucket to loosen the sand for moisture.
Pour the sand mixture into the bottom inch of each trench. Place your seed pieces on top of the sand mixture. Space each one about a foot apart.
Fill the remainder of each trench with the sand mixture. Add enough water to moisten the sand each day.
Harvest your potatoes by digging through the sand with a hand shovel in the fall. The potatoes should be clean and easy to find in the sand mixture.
Tips & Warnings
- You can also grow potatoes in a pot with the sand and sawdust mixture.
- "Advanced Gardening: Cutting-Edge Techniques for Gardeners", Miranda Smith, 2001
- Colorado State University: Growing Potatoes in Straw
- University of Illinois Extension: Potato
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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