I gotta admit, I’m something of a lazy gardener. I will always seek out the easiest way to plant vegetables and grow my own food. But I have some good excuses, too: I don’t like tilling soil because it disrupts the soil life, and why would I spend all that time weeding when I can add more mulch to my garden beds (which also adds carbon, and keeps the soil moist)?
Well, one of my favorite lazy and easy to grow vegetables is the potato. Last year, I had great success growing a nice stash of potatoes with little effort. Here’s how it works.
How to Grow Potatoes The Easy Way
What you’ll need:
- seed potatoes
- a garden bed (or not… you’ll see)
- mulch (think straw or old hay)
In most areas, potatoes can be planted in early to mid-spring, or slightly later for a late harvest. Refer to your local extension office for accurate local planting dates.
- If you already have a garden bed made up, great. Pull out any major weeds that may have made a home there. You do not have to work the soil or till it up.
- Next, simply place your seed spuds spaced about 18″-24″ apart on top of the soil. Yes, directly on top. Do not worry about pushing them down into the dirt.
- Finally, dump about 4″ worth of mulch (straw is my favorite) on top of the seed potatoes, making sure none are exposed to the sunlight.
That’s it! Over the course of a couple of weeks, the potatoes should successfully sprout (water them regularly if you do not have frequent spring rains) and send their greenery through the mulch. Over the course of the summer, add lots of mulch to your potato bed, enough to keep only the tops of the vines visible. You will need a lot of mulch, so be prepared.
An Even Lazier Way to Plant Potatoes
You can, in fact, grow potatoes without even prepping a garden bed. This has worked quite successfully for me last year.
- Choose a swath of land/yard/space where you would like to make your potato bed.
- Cut the grass very short with a scythe, sickle, or hand-powered mower.
- Spread the cuttings on top of the ground to outline a bed, and then lay out your seed potatoes the same way as described above.
- Next, add your 4″ worth of mulch, and there you have it!
Sounds hard to believe, but I have pulled a goodly harvest from my potato beds in the fall using this method. The trick is to add enough mulch throughout the season. The grass should die over time from being smothered from the sunlight, and the seed potatoes will send their roots into the ground with enough moisture.
Best of all, there’s no digging to be done once it is time to harvest. You should be able to simply pull back the mulch, and find a beautiful little pile of potatoes there on top of the soil, waiting to be picked and stored away for winter. It’s quite a reward! (They’re hardy even dirty, too.)
Give it a try!
UPDATE: @Entrepreneurs4C suggested yet another easy method for growing potatoes… so easy, in fact, that she could fit the whole process in one tweet!
Image credit: VeggieGardeningTips at Flickr under a Creative Commons license
Do you worry about the straw/hay?I read most is treated with round up and I am nervous about using it?
18-24″ apart? Who has that much garden space? I put the seed spuds MUCH closer together and still have great results . . .
I have a really small garden space, so I am trying potato towers this year.
You can also put a circle of chicken wire about 3 ft. in diameter around a few seed potatoes and keep adding straw. When you take it down, all the nice, clean potatoes just fall out on the ground! I did this for many years. Potato towers rock and take up less space.
My father tried something similar a few years ago; rather than straw, he used grass clippings from his yard. As I remember, it worked really well one year, and not so well the next… good to hear others have had success with this approach!
Irene @ SmilingGardener
Potatoes is one of my favorite ingredient in my dishes. It would really be nice and saves me a lot of money if I grow them myself. Thanks for sharing!
I guess that explains why I often get a reasonable crop from my compost heap – when they go a bit manky into the heap they go – only to thrive and produce a new crop. I’ll have a go at this though – sounds a good plan.
Well, i have tried to plant potato’s and it worked. I planted it randomly. I heaped it up and the plants is very healthy. My other problem is, i have Jack Russel dogs and they make holes in my potato patch. I have rad some of the ways to plant potato’s and next time i am going to a better job with some of your methods.