6 Tips for Growing Potatoes on a Raised garden beds
Grab your potatoes and tools; it's time to get started on that raised garden bed! Here are six tips to help you get going!
Raised garden beds allow you to control soil composition, achieving optimal potato growth in well-draining soil with ample compost.
Weed problems are minimized in Raised garden beds due to the use of barriers, resulting in healthier potato plants with less competition.
Harvesting potatoes from Raised garden beds is easier on your knees and back, thanks to the raised height providing better access to the plants.
Raised garden beds eliminate many common potato growing issues, allowing you to yield a bountiful crop of these delicious tubers. Follow these six tips, and you'll be planting potatoes on Raised garden beds in no time!
Benefits of Raised garden beds Gardening
Your natural garden soil may contain too much clay, sand, or rocks, but Raised garden beds solve this issue. Since you can choose the soil in your Raised garden beds, you have control over the proportions of sand, clay, and any amendments, manure, and compost in the soil. This control is valuable when growing potatoes because they prefer well-draining soil and plenty of compost. Raised garden beds also reduce soil compaction, allowing roots to penetrate deeply.
Weeds are not a problem in Raised garden beds because when you create the bed, you typically lay down a base layer of cardboard or gardening plastic. This barrier prevents weed seeds in the soil from taking root, leading to healthier potato plants with less competition. This results in one of the significant benefits of Raised garden beds: how easy they are on your knees and back! You won't have to bend over to weed, making it easier to pull them out once they sprout. It's also helpful during harvesting because the garden elevates your plants off the ground for easier access.
Setting Up a Raised garden beds Garden
Properly setting up a raised garden bed is essential before planting potatoes. Choose a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily. Fill your bed with well-draining, fertile soil and some compost to nourish your potatoes throughout the growing season. Clear the area of weeds before planting.
You can use various materials to construct Raised garden beds, including untreated wood, stones, rocks, cinder blocks, concrete, and bricks. Treated wood is now considered safe to use because the levels of rot-resistant chemicals leaching into the soil are minimal, according to the EPA. Stay away from any pallets with an unknown history as they may have been treated with unsafe chemicals.
Avoid building Raised garden beds wider than 4 feet. You need to reach from one side to the other without stepping into the bed. Since potatoes require at least 12 to 18 inches of planting space, ensure your Raised garden beds is at least one foot deep, but the deeper you go, the larger your harvest.
Best Potato Varieties for Raised garden beds
When it comes to varieties that perform well on Raised garden beds, look for compact plants. All fingerling varieties do well on Raised garden beds because potatoes are small, and the plants take up less space. Early-season varieties also do well on Raised garden beds.
Irish Cobbler: An early-season variety producing medium-sized, square-shaped potatoes, excellent for mashing, baking, and boiling.
Banana: A late-season fingerling potato that produces an abundance of small, yellow-skinned potatoes. Banana fingerlings have waxy skin, making them a perfect addition to salads.
Norkotah: A red-skinned, good-storing potato that matures early in the season.
Planting and Hilling Potatoes
Potato plants grow large, with most of their growth below the soil. When planting seed potatoes, space them about 16 inches apart for early varieties. This allows the roots enough space to spread.
To start planting, dig holes about 6 inches deep. Since you're growing in Raised garden beds, this will place your potatoes in the bottom half of the bed. Place the seed potatoes in the furrow with the "eyes" facing up and cover them with 4 inches of soil.
When the plants reach a height of 6 inches, add soil so that only the top few leaves of the plant are visible. This process is called hilling, as you're creating a hill-shaped mound of soil for the tubers to grow in. Hilling ensures that the growing tubers are not exposed to sunlight, which can produce a toxic bitter substance called solanine and make the potatoes turn green; these potatoes are not suitable for consumption.
Potatoes require a moderate amount of water. Too much, and the growing tubers may rot; too little, and you'll hinder plant growth. This is why using well-draining soil in your Raised garden beds is crucial. Potatoes need about one to two inches of water per week. If you live in a dry climate, you may need to water your growing plants every three to four days to keep them adequately hydrated. Planting in Raised garden beds makes your plants more likely to be under-watered rather than over-watered, as the soil in Raised garden beds tends to dry out faster than in-ground garden beds.
Potatoes prefer deep watering. Keep the flow of water at the root level of the plants and avoid overhead watering as much as possible to reduce the chance of soil-borne diseases. If you must use a sprinkler in the morning, so the sunlight can help evaporate excess moisture from the potato leaves.
There are two main times to dig up your potatoes: when the plants first flower early in the season and when the plants die at the end of the season. Early potatoes have a growth period of 60 to 80 days and are typically ready for harvest before mid-summer, while late potatoes are harvested 100 days or more after planting.
If harvesting early potatoes, carefully dig them up. The skin on new potatoes is thin and easily damaged. Early potatoes are usually small, and you should use them promptly.
You can also harvest potatoes a few weeks after the plant's leaves turn yellow and die. Leave the potatoes on the Raised garden beds for a few weeks, allowing their skins to thicken and harden. When harvesting, gently dig at the base of the plant with a garden fork until the attached tubers are unearthed. Fortunately, this is easier to do in Raised garden beds because you don't have to bend over as far!