Like to garden, but don't have much time? Love
potatoes, but don't have a cellar? Try this soil-building method
that let's you harvest them with your hands all winter long!
Select a spot in your garden that isn't too rich
in nitrogen, as excess nitrogen makes potatoes scabby. After
you've cleared the weeds and/or dead vegetation away, simply lay the
seed potatoes on the soil surface placing them about 2 feet on center.
Old-timers say that whole potatoes produce fewer,
larger potatoes than cut ones, which will yield more smaller potatoes.
If you cut them, be sure to allow at least a few hours in a shady, airy
place for the cut surfaces to skin over to resist invasion by soil-borne
After they are evenly placed on the bed, cover
the potatoes with a thick layer of mulch. In this case, thick means
at least knee-deep. If
you cannot provide this much mulch, do not try this method, as weeds
will overcome the plants.
Any bulky material will do, but one of the easiest
and cheapest is big round bales of hay. Simply stand them on
end and peel off the layers. If this doesn't fit your scheme, use leaves
gathered on a tarp.
It will take the plants awhile to emerge, but they
will be well-protected from hot, dry winds, and the soil will harbor
increasing numbers of earthworms to feed the plants and aerate the
soil. You will really appreciate
this in the fall when it is time to begin harvesting.
After the vines die back, simply push the mulch
away and scratch the surface of the soft soil with your fingers. You
will harvest the spuds with no forks to damage them, and no digging
to wear you out.
Just take what you need for a short time. In the late
fall, pile more mulch on to protect the remaining potatoes from freezing. You
will harvest live, crisp, delicious potatoes all winter and on into the
spring. They will exceed the quality of the best stored potatoes,
and few feelings can beat the satisfaction of garden fresh produce in
the middle of winter.
If deer are a problem in your garden, protect them
with electric fence crisscrossed over the bed. Mowing the grass
short around it in the fall will remove cover that moles and voles
depend on to sneak in and steal your spuds.