How to Grow Potatoes in a Raised Bed
I decided to grow potatoes in a raised bed this year! I can fit around ten seed potatoes in the bed and I'm looking forward to harvesting a lot more in May and June. The variety I'm using is called Orla.
It's finally time to start planting potatoes! I decided to go for one of the earliest varieties called Orla in my raised bed. It's such an easy and efficient way to grow potatoes. Read more to learn how it's done.
I often use pallet collars in my garden. Right now, I have eight of them. Some of them stacked on top of each other, forming raised beds. You can learn more about how I create new raised beds with pallet collars in my video How to make a raised bed. But let's get to the potatoes! I started by feeding my pallet collar box with fresh horse manure (without straw or peat) on top of the soil and then I added hay on top. There are plenty of little earthworms in this raised bed now!
An early harvest
A raised bed is actually the perfect choice for early potato varieties. You can usually start harvesting them already in early summer, if you plant them in April. That's the time frame we have here in zone 3 at least. Just make sure that the temperature is above freezing, because the potatoes can rot if you plant them in very cold soil.
I chitted this potato before planting it. That means that I put the seed potato on top of a layer of soil indoors, where I let it develop roots and leaves. I keep these potatoes inside for around four weeks. This process helps the potatoes grow faster when they actually go into the ground. All of it simply because I gave them a good start in a protected environment. It's really worth it!
Facts about Orla
- white potato, round or oval
- takes around 7-8 weeks to grow
- can stay in the soil a while, even while fully developed
- somewhat resistant to late blight
You can put around ten seed potatoes in a regular raised pallet collar bed. The early varieties usually don't need that much space between every potato, only around 10 inches (circa 2-3 decimeters.) You need more space for later varieties though, then you might only fit six seed potatoes.
The planting is actually really simple. Just grab a little spade, dig a hole (around 10-12 inches deep) and then put the potato in it. You don't need to chit the potatoes if you don't want to. You can get great results if you plant your seed potatoes without roots or leaves too of course. The potatoes just take a little bit longer to develop. Put the soil back on top and add a layer of hay as mulch too.
Hilling is a common method to protect growing potatoes against the sun. This simply means making little soil ridges around the potato plants, to block the sunlight from reaching the tuber. Why do we want to do this? Well, the tubers actually start producing a toxin when exposed to the sun. The potato also goes green. We might not be able to cover them as efficiently when we grow potatoes in a raised bed though.
So my solution is to simply add mulch around the plants and use that to block the sun instead. You can use any kind of plant parts basically. For example leaves, weeds, hay, straw or silage. You might want to be a bit careful with the grass clippings though. They contain a lot of nitrogen, which causes the potato plant to create more leaves rather than develop new tubers. The nitrogen can also affect the way the potatoes taste.
Grow potatoes in a raised bed – Tips
- research the variety you want to use
- keep track of the development time, how many weeks it takes before you can harvest your potatoes
- chit the potatoes indoors to get an extra early harvest
- put early potatoes in a tighter row than you would with later potatoes
All I can do now is to wait! If the weather stays mild, then it won't take long before I can see the first little leaves above the ground. It usually takes around three months from planting to harvest. But there are variations of course, with later and earlier varieties.
How many potatoes?
It's actually really difficult to assess how many potatoes you get from each plant. This can vary too, depending on what type of potato you choose. Some of them grow very large, but maybe only a few tubers per plant. Other potatoes are small, but you get so many of them. You can count on getting 1-2 lbs (around 0.5-1 kg) per seed potato. When I grow potatoes in a raised bed, I get 10-20 lbs (around 5-10 kg.) My goal is to keep myself from harvesting way too soon, and instead just let the tubers grow large.
So, that's how you grow potatoes in a raised bed! I hope you want to try it out. Good luck!