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.