A No-Dig Potatoes Experiment

Ok, I’m quite excited about this…I’m growing no-dig potatoes! What does this mean? Basically, that I’m not digging over the soil before planting my seed potatoes. The reasons for growing them like this are as follows:

a) to avoid digging over soil before planting in order to leave the soil structure intact and not to stir up new weed seeds

b) so that when I harvest them in late summer I will be far less likely to leave tubers underground (because the potatoes form in the loose soil at the surface and can be simply pulled up). This means I will be less likely to find “volunteer” potatoes that have regrown the following season.

c) so that I don’t need to dig them up with a fork and will therefore be less likely to damage my precious potatoes when I harvest them. Instead I can, hopefully, just pull them up from the stalk and use my hands to unearth all the potatoes.

Here’s how I’m going about it:

I have had a veg bed covered with weed membrane for several months (since October/November). I had topped it up with a thin layer of well-rotted manure and used chicken bedding before covering it to add nutrients etc back into the soil. To plant my seed potatoes I simply uncovered the bed and raked it over to loosen up the very top layer of soil. Then, I placed each seed potato on top of the soil, leaving 45cm between them, 70cm between rows.

Finally, I covered them with soil that I was relocating from another part of the garden – I am

doing a spot of manual terracing and had plenty of loose soil to move so this killed two birds

with one stone (everything I have read implies you should cover the potatoes with good quality compost or even straw but I think my method is just as good and will still have the same kind of results, although maybe a few extra weeds to contend with)

Let’s see how they get on…I will report back at harvest time later in the summer!