Planting Potatoes
In Minibeds

Dateline: 25 April 2017



Wood Prairie Farm up in Aroostook County, Maine has been growing certified organic seed potatoes for decades. They have an Experimenter's Special that caught my eye. An Experimenter's Special seems just right for a Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden.

Three seed potatoes from four varieties of your choice (17 different varieties to choose from) for $19.95. I chose the varieties you see above.

I decided to experiment by planting the three seed potatoes from each variety into four minibeds, as this picture shows...


I planted each seed potato 4" to 5" deep but did not cover it completely. I'll fill in the depressions as the potato plants emerge. Then I'll hill what soil I can (which won't be much) around the stems. After that, I plan to mound the bed up with shredded leaves. I have a lot of shredded leaves stored under cover from last fall.

Since I have some Whizbang Solar Pyramids, I decided to put one of them over each potato bed...


It may be that three seed potatoes in each bed will be too much. I also planted two other minibeds with a single seed potato in the center. One with King Harry and one with Island Sunshine. And I did not cover those beds with solar pyramids.

It will be interesting to see if the solar pyramids make a big difference. And it will be interesting to see what kind of yield I get with shredded leaves instead of a soil covering.

Growing potatoes in a group (referred to as a hill) instead of in a row is actually an old technique. 

I well remember the time my family visited Old Sturbridge Village in the fall, and in the garden by Freeman Farmhouse a man was about to dig up a hill of potatoes. He invited my three young sons to help. They dug up the hill, extracting the spuds using just their hands. It wasn't the first time my kids had dug up potatoes, but it was the first time they dug up a potato hill, and the first time they dug potatoes using just their hands.

Growing potatoes in Minibeds is not a practical way to grow a lot of potatoes. But it may end up being a practical way to grow some early potatoes for seasonal eating.

Elsewhere in my garden I have planted rows of potatoes for winter storage using a more conventional approach.



4 comments:

  1. Hi Herrick, Got all my tater's planted last week and had four left over, so we had them for dinner!!! Never even thought of putting them in a mini-bed
    A few years ago I scrapped the turf off a spot about four foot square, laid a bunch of spuds on the ground about 12 part both ways, and piled a whole bale of hay opened up and spread on them. At the end of the summer we got about two full milk crates out of there, but was a pain in the butt chasing the hay around to keep it in place. Never even thought of a net of some sort to contain it. Live and learn.

    Got five tarps from the billboard store yesterday, I'm going all in on the minibus, with few exceptions. Corn, potatoes---

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  2. IABSOLUTELY HATE THE AUTOMATIC SPELLING CHANGES THIS COMPUTER KEEPS DOING!!!!!!

    Problem is I don't know how to turn it off!

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  3. Hi Everett,

    My spell checker automatically changes minibed to minibus all the time. It is a pain.

    Your experience with the hay bale has me encouraged. I think shredded leaves will stay in place fairly well but I have an idea for a hold-down that can be affixed to the minibed frames.

    I continue to be amazed at your enthusiasm for the Minibeds-on-Plastic concept. I also have expanded my experimental plot to make more minibeds. Once they are in place, planting is so easy. No long rows with strings. It's almost too easy. :-)

    I don't usually grow sweet corn but plan to plant a few minibed hills. As an experiment. Hope to get the seeds in very early with hoops and plastic covering.

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  4. I already have all my 56 beds in the High Tunnel spoken for, But as I get the tarps edges buried, and some more 2 x4's screwed together I was thinking I'd do the same with some corn. I have a couple of packages of dent corn from Johnny's. Going to try my hand at making corn meal just like my grand dad did when I was a Kid. He used to "LET" me turn the handle on the sheller! Sigh, wish we had held on to that particular item!

    I put 8 mothballs in an old short sock, pounded a stake in the ground in the middle of the broccoli minibed, folded the corners of two used dryer sheets over the top and ran a screw into the post to hold it in place. These two things, even used singly are suppose to drive bad bugs away. If you use them outside, Just put a plastic cup over the stake to keep the rain from dissolving the moth balls. The inside of the High Tunnel smells like the inside of a cedar chest full of wool sweaters!!

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