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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Planting Potatoes

Potato plants
PatchworkPottery (Flickr / Creative Commons)
Potato plants

Many gardeners void growing potatoes because they are so common and inexpensive in stores and they take up lots of room in their garden. But home-grown potatoes can be lots of fun. Let me share 3 ways to grow your own spuds.

Here's a simple way to grow them without planting in rows or hilling plants with soil. Connecticut's own Ruth Stout used this no-till gardening method in the 1970's. She dropped seed potatoes on the ground, buried them in hay, straw or chopped leaves and had a great harvest. The keys are to loosen the soil with a hoe, cover the seed potatoes with 8 inches of organic matter and keep them well watered. As the plants grow add more hay and chopped leaves. In late summer, remove the mulch and harvest! 

To avoid rodent damage, plant seed potatoes in tall, wooden raised beds. Beds raised 3 feet tall, and lined on the bottom with hardware cloth, are perfect for potatoes. Mice and voles avoid getting into the beds and you get a better harvest because of all the great compost and topsoil you added.

A final way to grow potatoes is in containers. I use lightweight fleece, grow bags. I place a layer of potting soil in the bottom, drop 3 to 4 seed potatoes in the bag, and barely cover them with soil. As they grow I cover the stems and leaves with more potting soil and compost until the plants reach the top of the container. And I keep it well watered. In late summer, tip the container over and watch the potatoes flow out.

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