I’ve been harvesting a lot while taking a break from work this week, and harvesting potatoes reminded me of previous years’ experimentation and what has worked for me and what has not gone so well. Today, I thought I would share some of my tips to help you get good yields of potatoes:
- Should you chit potatoes before planting? I do find that it is a good idea. While not everyone agrees that it makes that much of a difference, in my experience, it is good to give spuds a bit of a head-start. I usually start chitting potatoes on a cool but bright windowsill around 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in my area.
- When planting potatoes, don’t go ahead too early. Look at the weather in a given year. Some years, I hold off a little longer if the weather looks cold and that has worked better than forging ahead regardless.
- Dig or no-dig? I prefer to take a no dig approach in my garden beds. I experimented (non-scientifically) a little early on in our journey here and to be honest, have not found that yields of potatoes differed significantly whether earthed up or mulched. But no dig is so much easier when harvesting, potatoes come up cleaner, and ecologically, no dig is so much better. So I go no dig, and mulch around my potatoes with organic material. (Comfrey and mixed dynamic accumulator leaves, grass clippings, sometimes seaweed.)
- Companion planting is key. I have had great results growing peas between potato rows, for example. I also like adding lettuce and radishes before the potatoes grow to need the space…
- Water is key. And remember that when growing potatoes in grow bags or containers, more watering is generally required. Dry conditions can sometimes give slightly disappointing yields for container grown potatoes, even when those in the ground still thrive.
Above all else, make sure you choose potato varieties which are best suited to growing where you live. Where I live, I have had most success with Charlotte, Maris Peer, Maris Piper and Swift, for example. But speak to experienced gardeners in your area before deciding which choices could be good for you.