Saturday 1 May 2010

Potato Puzzler!!!

Well I had quite a busy day today and managed to get enough of the new plot dug over to get in my King Edward potatoes...I won't bore you with pictures but I do have a question as I am a little puzzled.

I have put my potatoes in and covered them marking each end with a cane ... as the potatoes grow I will slowly earth up around the plant. I am told by my Dad that this is the 'correct' method for growing potatoes.

However lots of people down the allotment have planted and hilled their potatoes straight away.
Which is the correct way??
Is there a right or wrong way??
How do you plant yours??


  1. I have read that you are supposed to earth up the potatoes once they are visible above the soil and this is what I always do. However, I have noticed on the farms around here they are earthed up as soon as they are put in - although I guess it is impractical to earth them up gradually on a large scale.

  2. mine are in two low trenches with a mound on either side. I'll use those mounds to earth up the potatoes as they grow until the whole row is pretty much level again.

  3. Well as usual I can't offer any words of wisdom. This reminded me of when I was a kid though. We went to a potato farm where you could walk through and pick up the ones left and get them really cheap.

  4. I grew-up on a farm in NC. We hilled them up as they grew and they produced well. Interesting dang question!:)

  5. What type your potato is? I never plant a potato before. It will be interesting to know :)

  6. Vanilla seven I have three different types of potato in the ground...first earlies are rocket, second earlies are maris peer and main crop are king edwards. I was given some second early charlotte yesterday so will plant those too and also buy some more main crop in the form of desirre to put in on the new ground too. Quite a good selection which will give me potatoes for quite a long time.

  7. I've noticed exactly the same thing about others earthing up before they've grown, but I do mine the same way as you.

  8. I read your comment in The Everyday Adventurer. I love it.

  9. Hi Tanya,
    We earth up as they grow and in fact have done a little covering up this week - not really earthing as they are still only just coming through. Others on our plot create mounds as soon as they plant. I don't really know how their potatoes compare to ours but we are pleased with our crops.

    Maybe as Mark commented maybe it's so they are done with in one go!

  10. Never done it myself but I know several people who grow potatoes who plant them in old car tires and then fill the tires with hay as the plant grows. One guy doesn't use the tires but digs a trench and fills the trench with hay. Supposedly it's easier to harvest the potatoes by reaching through the hay instead of having to dig.

  11. Hi Tany. The answer is to plant them level and then mound them once they emerge. This ensures the potatoes benefit from the increased depth and the weeds get totally disrupted. If you mound them straight away, like the commercial growers, you probably use weedkiller to supress the weeds (like the commercial growers). In my childhood I recall covering the first shoots in our plot with jam jars before the spraying with weedkiller (Did they have glyphosate as far back as the sixties?) and being told that a commercial grower would wait for the first shoots to appear and then just spray the whole field. The first few might get killed, but the the benefit to the rest more than compensated for a few losses.

  12. The approved method is to earth up when the shoots appear and then earth up again when they re-appear, and yet again. Each time you cover the shoots they send out side shoots from which the potatoes develop. Therefore you have potatoes growing at different levels in the soil.
    This is a lot easier to do in the potato growbags that can be purchased.

  13. I dig a hole 8 inches deep and put my potatoe in.Next I cover with mulch to give me an idea when I dig them how deep to go and give them a good feeding slowly while growing and mound the soil I dug up on top.When they appear I mound more soil around them. I have read potatoe loosen the soil, but after digging them last year I felt real tired.Digging them is like finding a buried treasure. Sometimes it will be a big harvest and other hills only a few. The 1st meal I make is boiled potatoes smothered in rosemary and butter using the small ones first. Where are you getting such interesting varieties?

  14. Interesting, I've noticed the differing methods on our allotments too. The 'earthing up all at once' plot uses weedkiller as Mal describes. I've got potato bags this year but will probably plant some on the plot next year, I want to track down some Cheshire potatoes to recreate the taste of my childhood!

  15. Visited and comment left!!

    Thank you for the blogs and pictures - including your lovely shed.

    I told you about the lettuces I#d planted - but the chickens got out and the slugs seem to have hatched.


  16. Hey Tanya, wanted to let you know you one of the winners in my giveaway. I need your info so I can send your prize.

  17. Thanks all for your feedback on this puzzler.

    Mark..I guess it would be impractical to earth up on a large scale...but I'm thinking then you would have acres of land.

    Pixielation I can see why your idea works just the same as earthing up but I'm not sure this doesn't involve more work from the outset as you have to dig a deeper trench?!?!

    Ann I to remember going to pick the 'pig tates' as they were called of the land once the farmers had harvested...these days there is no such look as any size potato gets bagged to make standards any more!!

    Rainfield Thanks for stopping by...hope you visit again.

    Ruth...interesting comment about the hay....but I don't think it would do well to my budget to buy this much hay but I can see how it would be so much easier...and harvest the spuds!

    Old car tyres is just like the potato bag method but in an old fashioned way!

    Mals Allotment Never thought about disrupting the weeds and that is a really good point...especially on the land I am planting on as the twitch has been a nightmare and you never get it all out!....I don't use weedkiller so earthing up it will be!!

    Out on the praire...I agree with you about the digging for treasure but it is fun as well as hard work. Potatoes are supposed to break up the soil which is why I am filling the new plot with them and other hardy root veg in the hopes that next year won't be so damn hard!

    Pat...thanks for visiting...hope you enjoyed it and I will be in touch soon for a garden visit and poo

    Someone asked me where I got such interesting varieties but although I publisehd the comment maybe it wasn't on this post. Anyway i have bought my potatoes from the allotment shop...homebase and wilkos. No where special so you should all be able to get your hands on them...also I am toying with the idea of just buying a few spuds from the supermarket next year and seeing how that goes!!

  18. I'm sure you've decided by now how you're going to do it, but it's an interesting puzzle. I wish I knew the answer. My dad would know, but he lives too far away for me to ask him.

  19. I'm around just not commenting as much, just thought I would add my two cents to the mix.

    I also planted in a trench and would be using the mounded sides to fill in and effectively earth up the spuds as they grow.

  20. If I remember right the person who did the hay/trench technique was selling their produce at a farmer's market and grows their own hay to use. I imagine an allotment is too small to do that sort of thing.


keep it clean...keep it relevant...I look forward to reading your comments!!