While I have played around with growing Potato’s in towers, in strawbales and even in last years “sacrifice outside winter feeding area” the way we grow most of our potato’s is in our double dug 3 foot wide W planted beds.
With alot more work, you can start this with raw land or you can do the same process much faster with already worked garden soil.. now the downside of this is that its a tilled method,so for those that want a no-till garden only this is not going to work for you..
We follow the old (honestly I don’t know how old this method is but I have found it recommended for potato’s as far back as the 1800′s in books), lay down a sheet or tarp and dig out your first row of dirt, placing it on the tarp, have a a good amount of well rotted compost, sprinckle an inch or two of your compost on the trench line, then cut and flip the second row top side down into the line, repeat till the bed is done or until multiple beds are done. I don’t have a picture of this part so I snagged a drawing on it from a UK garden Site.
Personally we almost always double dig all our beds for the any kind of root veggies, I do it very different for above ground plants. It works in a number of way, by flipping the top to the bottom that has been lined with active well rotten compost, the top green dies to help feed the soil itself, and the roots are on the top and you can pull them out and gives you a helping hand on keeping on top of them.
Now is where we leave this method and move to another one, once I get my soil ready, I don’t want to ever! step on that bed and compact that soil down, and I consider walkways that are all done into garden soil that is used as a walk way to be a total waste of my hard work!
So its at this point that we grab our big long handled rakes and make free form 3 foot wide raised beds in the garden. So you start at the top of a bed and you use your rake to pull the walkway dirt up onto your raised bed area, only once that is done, do you step onto the pathway and then pull from the other side. Three feet is ideal as you can stand on your paths and reach the middle from both sides, it also means that you can then choose a number of different seed/planting styles depending on what you are growing.
We did get in a very early row of seed potato’s in one bed done for a total of 28 plants, We filled in the walkways with straw to help keep weeds down, and over the next two or three weeks, we will pull all the starting weeds and once the potato’s pop up, then we will do our first cover on the top of the bed and will build the hills as they grow from there. I will add in a one more extra to the bed just before I do my first strawbedding hilling, which is to cut down fresh stinging nettles, and lay them on the soil before I cover it, I am not 100% certain why this makes such a difference but let me tell you, if you grow nettles, give this one a try and see if it makes as big of a difference in your garden as it does mine!
So, tell me what is your favorite way to grow your spuds?!