27. April 2020

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.

En pallkrageodling med röda pallkragar. Grow potatoes in a raised bed, red pallet collars.

I'm growing potatoes in this raised pallet collar bed. Keep reading to learn how you can grow potatoes in a raised bed too!

 

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!

 

Närbild på en sättpotatis med rötter och blast. Grow potatoes in a raised bed. Seed potatoes.

A chitted potato with roots and leaves.

 

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

 

More about potatoes: Chitting potatoes indoors

 

Planting potatoes

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.

 

En pallkrage med sättpotatis som lagts på tan.

I put my potatoes on top of the soil to decide how tight my rows should be.

 

Hilling potatoes?

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.

 

Mulching instead

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.

 

More about potatoes: Why should I transplant potato plants?

 

Närbild på jord med många röda maskar i. Grow potatoes in a raised bed. Compost worms.

Plenty of earthworms in my mulch! I actually never had to add them, they just came along with the mulch and manure I added to my raised bed. They reproduce so quickly!

 

Only the little leaves show now. I put some straw back on top, and then I won't see the leaves at all until in a few weeks when they grow larger.

 

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

 

More about growing potatoes: Get an early harvest

 

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!
/Sara Bäckmo

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