The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Planting Potatoes

Placing seed potatoes in a row.Mounding dirt over the seed potatoes.If you've got a small garden and want to cut back on food bills, potatoes are a must.  A potato is a staple starch which requires no processing (unlike the more difficult grains which must be threshed, etc.) and you get an astounding amount of nutrients in a small space.

Potatoes are also one of the easiest
plants to grow.  Cut your seed potatoes into sections with at least a couple of eyes (I leave small potatoes whole and usually cut medium Seed potato section.potatoes in half), space the sections about a foot apart on bare soil, then mound more soil on top of the sections so that they're completely covered.  If you want, you can weed them later, but I've had great luck simply ignoring my potato rows until their tops die back and they need to be dug.  (You may need to mound additional dirt up over your potato roots if rain washes some away --- exposed tubers turn green and are inedible.)  In an hour of labor (which included spading up all of the soil by hand), I planted 10 pounds of seed potatoes, which will turn into about 100 pounds of potatoes to fill our bellies.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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first of all, thank you for a great blog, i am really enjoying reading it and i love your photography Anna! we are just starting out (we are in Canada, i am jealous of your tulips, here it is still crocus season!)- our very first spring on the (hobby) farm, lots of fencing, starting a garden, getting chickens, a dog and a cow in May! learning as we go... potatoes- wasn't planning to plant any, but now think i probably should! when i was about 10 years old, my city dwelling parents embarked on a gardening adventure and planted a plot of potatoes. they forgot about it for the rest of the growing season and we returned to our "dacha" in the fall to find a 6 ft tall weed patch. we didn't think potatoes had survived, but they did, and actually did better than neighbour's who kept her potato patch meticulously weeded. here's an idea that i would love some feedback on- apparently chickens don't eat potatoes. if that is indeed true, could one perhaps plant potatoes in the chicken run area( i am thinking colardo beetle control). any idea on whether some silly chicken might accidently eat potato berries and get sick? thank you again!

Comment by Tanya Tue Apr 7 23:17:32 2009

Your farm sounds like a lot of fun! I'd be curious to see if your chicken/potato combination worked, but I'd suspect it wouldn't. You probably wouldn't make the chickens sick, but they would almost certainly scratch up the potatoes. Loose soil is an invitation to chickens --- they adore soil insects and worms and loose soil makes those especially easy to find. If you have a permanent run for them (vs. a tractor), they're almost certain to scratch it down to bare dirt in no time, too, and the potato plant has to have its green top in order to make potatoes.

All that said, experiments are fun! Whey not plant a few in their run and see how it goes?

Comment by anna Wed Apr 8 07:52:32 2009

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