7 Ways to Plant Potatoes: A Comparison

It’s potato-planting time!  Here are 7 different ways to plant potatoes, with a comparison of the pros and cons of each method.

Potatoes are one of America’s favorite vegetables – and they are also a favorite of the home gardener! Relatively easy to grow, potatoes do well in a variety of climates and soil types. However, depending on your soil, some planting methods may work better than others.

This helpful article shares 7 different ways to plant potatoes. The author actually tested each method, and provides the results of the experiment below. Although they left out our favorite method (growing potatoes in hay bales), these should give you some great options for growing a fabulous potato crop this year, no matter where you’re gardening!

1. Hilled Rows

Dig straight, shallow trenches, 2 to 3 feet apart, in prepared soil. Plant seed potatoes 12 inches apart and cover with about 3 inches of soil. When the shoots reach 10 to 12 inches tall, use a hoe or shovel to scoop soil from between rows and mound it against the plants, burying the stems halfway. Repeat as needed through the growing season to keep the tubers covered.

Pros: No containers to buy or build; no soil to transport. This is a simple, inexpensive, and proven method that farmers have used for millennia….

Cons: Yield may be limited by the quality of the soil. In places where the soil is badly compacted or low in organic matter, one of the aboveground techniques might work better.

2. Straw Mulch

Place seed potatoes on the surface of prepared soil, following the spacing specified for hilled rows, and cover them with 3 to 4 inches of loose, seed-free straw. Mound more straw around the stems as they grow, eventually creating a layer a foot or more in depth.

Pros: The thick mulch conserves soil moisture and smothers weeds. Harvest is effortless with no digging. This method is suggested as a way to thwart Colorado potato beetle.

Cons: Yield in the test plot was slightly less than in the hilled row. Field mice have been known to use the cover of straw to consume the crop.

3. Raised Beds

Loosen the soil in the bottom of a half-filled raised bed. Space seed potatoes about 12 inches apart in all directions and bury them 3 inches deep. As the potatoes grow, add more soil until the bed is filled. If possible, simplify harvest by removing the sides.

Pros: This method yielded the largest harvest in my trials, and the potatoes were uniformly large. Raised beds are a good choice where the garden soil is heavy and poorly drained.

Cons: The soil to fill the bed has to come from somewhere—and it takes a lot.

4. Grow Bag


5. Garbage Bag


6. Wood Box


7. Wire Cylinder

Using hardware cloth with ¼-inch mesh, fashion a cylinder about 18 inches in diameter and 24 inches tall. Put several inches of soil in the bottom, then plant 3 or 4 seed potatoes and cover them with 3 inches of soil. Continue to add soil as the potatoes grow. To harvest, lift the cylinder and pull the soil back to expose the tubers.

Pros: In a climate with incessant spring rains, the wire mesh would provide excellent drainage and prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged….

Cons: I harvested a limited number of undersized tubers from the cylinders—a dismal showing….

See the Full List at RodalesOrganicLife.com


Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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