Elevated potato growing methods: how to grow above ground potatoes

Potatoes
go with just about everything, plus they are fairly easy to grow, so it’s no
wonder that many gardeners plant them in the usual way, underground. But what
about growing potatoes above ground? Raised potato plants may be an atypical
potato growing method but one with many benefits. Read on to learn how to grow
above ground potatoes.

Benefits of Raised Potato Plants

Potatoes actually don’t need to be buried under dirt to
grow. The reason we do is simply to keep
the potatoes from getting green, but there are other ways to accomplish
that. The key is to block the light from hitting the actual spud.

The advantages of growing potatoes above ground are
numerous. First of all, digging
the spuds up at harvest often damages them. Growing potatoes above ground
eliminates that problem.

With this potato growing method, you are replacing the dirt
with mulch and that has all kinds of benefits. For one thing, it’s a great way
to clear a weedy area in the landscape since the mulch blocks the light. At the
end of the growing season, the mulch breaks down to add more organic matter in
the soil.

Potatoes from raised potato plants will also likely be the
nicest looking potatoes you’ve ever grown. They won’t be dirty and will be
smooth.

Above Ground Potato Growing Methods

There are basically two above ground potato growing methods:
raised potato plants grown in a raised bed or potatoes grown in a tower or
cage. There are variations on either method, but here is the gist.

How to Grow Above Ground Potatoes in a Tower

A day or two prior to planting, cut certified disease-free seed
potatoes into 2-inch (5 cm.) chunks with at least two eyes per chunk. Lay
them out to cure for 12-48 hours to allow the cut side to scab over. If you are
choosing the tower
potato growing method, you will need 12-24 pieces per tower. Choose longer
season varieties or indeterminate potatoes which will set more potatoes over a
longer period.

To grow above ground potatoes in a tower, you will need
metal field fencing. Fold the fencing into a cylinder that is about 2-3 inches
(5-7.6 cm.) in diameter and secure the ends. Choose a spot for the tower and
fill the bottom third with straw and then a layer of soil. Place the seed
potatoes near the edges of the container and about 6 inches (15 cm.) apart.

Repeat the process until you have layered in all of your
seed potatoes. Cover the top of the container with mulch, flowers or even salad
greens.

Growing Raised Potato Plants

To grow above ground potatoes in a bed, either create a
raised bed or mound up dirt to create a long bed. Hoe or loosen the soil if
need be and water the area. Lay the seed potatoes spaced just as you would if
you were burying them – early varieties 14-16 inches (35-40 cm.) apart with at
least a foot (30 cm.) between plants and for other varieties 18 inches (46 cm.)
in a bed or 14 inches (35 cm.) between plants in rows that are 30 inches (75 cm.)
apart.

Cover the seed potatoes with just straw or compost and then
straw. You can either cover them with 6 inches (15 cm.) of straw right away or
add to the straw layer as the potatoes grow. Water the straw well and cover it
with mesh or grass clippings to keep it from being blown away.

No space? That’s okay too. Growing
potatoes in containers or grow
bags will also suffice. You can layer this with straw and compost just as
you would in a tower.

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