How to grow potatoes without tilling – REGENERATIVE.com

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  permaculture.island 3 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #55738

    anglors.email
    Participant

    Hello!
    I live in southern Sweden but this subject might be general. I have a potatoe land which the farmer tilled for me last year as it had been used as pasture land. But for the future i want to improve the soil with organic matter and soil life and decrease the work involved as much as possible. There where lots of quick weed last year, as well as other weeds but the potatoes covered most of the soil so i didnt do much about it. After digging up the potatoes i put white clover seeds on the bare soil and in late autumn put a 5 – 10 cm (2-4inches) of silage that i got from the farmer. However the quick weed seems to work its way through the silage as we have a mild winter without minus degrees. There is where i am right now and it is time to start preparing for next growing season. Do you have any useful experience in this matter? What would you do? I would be mostly thankful for any advice also those saying i shouldn’t eat so much potatoes; )

    #57081

    bnther42
    Participant

    Hello Sweden!

    I’m in Kalamazoo Mich and I’m wondering about the same thing. I’ve got 30lbs of seed potatoes coming and a new piece of property to plant them in. I want to do things responsibly and decrease workload if at all possible…but I need to be eat them : )

    Input from people who have done this would be appreciated.

    #57515

    permaculture.island
    Participant

    The simplest method to my knowledge is to throw down some newspaper, place the potato’s on top and cover with a layer of straw about 30cm thick.
    The potato’s have no trouble sprouting up through the straw but pretty much all “weeds” do.

    Myself and a friend did a hybrid method (as we had no access to abundant straw at the time) where we planted the potato’s about and inch under the soil surface and covered with about 10 to 15cm of some sea grass we found (much like straw).

    It was watered well once, and then occasionally after. If you have good rain, the first watering should be enough.

    The straw smothers “weeds” and retains moisture.

    Our potato’s did remarkably well, were very prolific, and were the only ones in the neighbourhood that needed no weeding (well, aside from I think two strong sprouts of a very resilient local plant).

    Hope that helps.

    #57518

    bnther42
    Participant

    Thanks for the reply : )

    With this hybrid method, did the potatoes grow on top of the soil or in the soil?

    #57520

    permaculture.island
    Participant

    They grew in the soil.

    However, in the total straw mulch version, they grow in the straw, can be harvested ridiculously easy and are clean of earth.

    Being clean is great, but for long term storage I believe a bit of earth on the potato’s is a good thing.

    #57683

    bnther42
    Participant

    A quick update for anyone following. I’ve got most of my potatoes planted, but I elected not to use the newspaper/hay method. I’ve noted a LOT of field mice and I had concerns that these critters would go after my food when it was ready to be harvested.

    So…I’m experimenting, literally.

    I used a post hole digger to break through the grass and root structure. This gives me a hole that’s about 6 inches in diameter. Obviously, this goes against the whole ‘no till’ ideology, but it’s got to be better than running a rotor tiller through everything. I drop the potato in, refill dirt and then I planted bush beans all along the outer edge of the hole (I got the idea from flower petals extending from the center) . Originally, I started by punching a small holes with a screwdriver all along the outside of the 6 inch hole and then dropping the seeds in. This was too much work. Now I just seed the same hole as the potato.

    I planted these miniature guilds all over the property, always looking for differences in shading, soil type, surrounding plants, ect. I have NO IDEA how this is going to turn out, but that’s OK. My situation is unique and presents the perfect opportunity to do something crazy : )

    I’ll post pictures as things start to grow.

    #57684

    permaculture.island
    Participant

    bnther42: Sounds like a pretty nice idea. Yes, it’s not quite no-till but I agree it’s a lot better than actual tilling. I look forward to hearing about your results, particularly any difference you note in location.
    As for straw mulch; seeing as you’re doing multiple experiments maybe it’s worth doing a small straw test to see how the mice respond. If you own a cat or cats, they would likely help keep mice away – they’re worth having in my opinion on their own merit also 🙂
    Enjoy the summer

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