As regular readers know, our family is pretty big on potatoes. We eat them 3 meals a day, every day! I’ve always grown good potatoes. The boys took over potato planting back when we lived in southern NY and even won first prize at the Broome county fair with their Red Pontiacs. After moving up here my success with taters ended. Heavy clay soil is one thing, but wet clay soil is another. Our farm is very wet and has standing water in most areas from spring till freeze up. Its almost impossible to grow good potatoes here. I had thought about trying to grow them in vertical towers but decided against it because we would need such a large number of them to grow any decent amount of potatoes. This year I decided to try growing them above ground under a heavy hay mulch. Here is the process we used…
The first thing we did was bring up several loads of composted hay/manure from a spot where cattle had been fed round bales outside several years ago. We covered a 15ftx25ft area with this material about 8 to 10 inches deep. Some of it was well rotted compost, some was half decomposed hay and some of it was clay.
Next we planted 50 lbs of potatoes intensive style, about 12 inches or so apart across the whole area. We didn’t bury them, just layed them on top.
After we got the potatoes on the ground we brought over a round bale of hay that was baled with a roto-cut baler. We spread 3/4 of the bale over the spuds.
When we finished we had about 12 inches of hay spread over the plot. We had a nice rain that evening. After the potatoes come up we will cover it with more hay and then see what happens.
This week we want to get another 50 lbs planted in another plot right next to this one. The biggest challenges will be covering the plot with hay the second time since the rows are so close together and coming up with an efficient way to harvest what we hope will be one huge mound of potatoes. I will continue to post about the experiment here as the season progresses and give updates. It can’t produce any worse yields than what I get planted them in the mud!