Guide For Planting And Growing Potatoes Without Digging

There’ s no need to get back-ache when planting and harvesting potatoes – follow this method of no-dig planting

Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and it’s extremely satisfying to harvest, store, cook and eat your own potatoes. Potato growing, however, does generally involve digging – you dig the soil over to start with, then at harvest time, you dig into the soil again to get the potatoes out, always having to be careful not to stab any precious tatties with your garden fork!

There are ways, however, to grow potatoes that don’t require any digging and this is an ideal method for:

  • Anyone with back problems
  • The elderly
  • Small gardens with insufficient space for a full-sized vegetable plot
  • Anyone who doesn’t like digging

What you need to grow potatoes without digging

What you do need for your no-dig potatoes is some form of container and there are various types to make or buy:

  • You can make a bamboo sheeting pod by tying bamboo canes together with paddle wire. You need enough canes to tie into a cylinder of around 45 cm diameter. Bury it partway into the soil in a sunny part of the garden.
  • You can buy a purpose-made potato pod – while this will be a more expensive option, it has the advantage that you can place it anywhere – on the patio, on gravel, or take it to the allotment.
  • Or use a potato grow bag – the best ones have drainage holes, handles for carrying around and flaps in the sides so you can remove the large potatoes as soon as they’re ready and leave the smaller ones to grow a bit more. Bags are also transportable so you can move them into the greenhouse or conservatory if it gets too frosty over the winter.

Planting your no-dig potatoes

Home-grown potatoes

Potatoes (especially earlies) need to be chitted before planting; this wakes the seed potato up to create the shoots that will form the new potatoes. An egg tray is ideal for this – the soft cardboard absorbs any moisture. Simply place the seed potatoes with the rose end (the end with most eyes) facing upwards. They will soon start to form stubby little shoots.

You can plant your seed potatoes when all risk of frost has passed. Place a mixture of organic compost and well-rotted horse manure (or a nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer) into the bottom of your container to depth of about 10 cm, then place about 4 potatoes (shoots upwards) into the compost mix and cover with another 10 cm of compost. Rub a liberal amount of Vaseline around the rim of the container to deter slugs.

Depending on how tall your container is, you can add two or three more layers of seed potatoes to it (the bamboo pod ideal for this). Then water it well. When the shoots have grown a few centimeters, add more compost, then keep adding more every couple of weeks and keep the compost moist.

You may need to add a couple of canes to support the plants as they will grow quite tall, and if they flop over to the ground they may get damp and moldy. The plants need to stay up where they get plenty of air and light and keep dry; this will also help resist potato blight.

Harvesting your no-dig potatoes

harvesting Red Potatoes

When the plants start to die down, your potatoes are ready. With the bamboo sheeting and pods, you simply untie them, remove the pod and dive in for your produce. With a bag, you can use a trowel.

Each seed potato should produce about 20 potatoes in four months – a very generous yield for very little work. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!


About the Author

With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...

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