I occasionally buy Organic Gardener magazine. There is an article by Peter Cundall in this months issue about growing beans, carrots, and pivotally for this post, potatoes. I love Peter Cundall – he is definitely one of my heroes. For anyone unfamiliar with him, Peter Cundall is 84, a former host of the TV show Gardening Australia, and a political activist with a long history of campaigning on environmental issues. Currently his highest profile campaign is against the Gunns pulp mill in the Tamar Valley in Tasmania. He also writes interesting articles about growing potatoes in the Organic Gardner magazine.
Anyway one of the methods he espouses in the article involves converting part of your lawn into a potato patch and I had just persuaded my partner that I NEEDED more growing area so……
He recommends mowing the grass hard, I did this but I also pulled up as much of the top layer of grass as I could – we have a particularly invasive type of couch grass and I wanted to make sure it didn’t just grow up through the potato mulch. You then place the seed potatoes on top of the soil/cut grass.
I planted Dutch Cream, Pink Fir Apple & Kipfler at about 30cm intervals. Straw is then laid on top of the potatoes. I don’t think I managed quite the recommended 50cm but I can always build it up a bit after the plants come up .
This mulch should then be weighed down with a 20cm layer of sheep or cow manure followed by another 5cm of chook poo. I managed about 5cm of manure before running out of bags but as with the straw I reckon I can always add more later. The final stage is to give it a good watering in. For this I employed my 23 month old as watering has a large novelty value for him thus he had the patience to stand there for long enough for the water to permeate all that mulch.
Apparently when the potatoes are ready for harvest all you need to do is lift the mulch layer and there they are. Sounds fabulous and also a good way of getting some organic matter into this new bed as I plan to dig this lot in once the spuds have finished. Hopefully this will all result a fine crop and yet another reason to love Peter Cundall.
P.S: In a moment of serendipity Bowerbird Blue also wrote of her love for Peter Cundall last night and she too is trialling this potato growing method. For more potato and Peter Cundall love visit Bowerbird Blue immediately.
Fun! I look forward to seeing what you get! What in the world is ‘chook’ poo?
I think you would call it chicken poop?
Sounds a bit like the “Lazy Beds” they used to use in Ireland. Make sure you water those spuds a lot – since you have skimped on the layers of covering they could easily dry out too much.
Good point – I’m hoping it rains here soon actually, it seems to be getting very dry again, we’ve only just emerged from one drought – surely it isn’t time again already…..
Oh I love Peter Cundall, my hero, and Organic Gardener, and have done the exact same thing at my house last week. Hard to get the straw and manure the prescribed height – they will be expensive potatoes! I figured I’d add more as they grow too. I couldn’t leave the grass either, it felt wrong! Actually it all felt a bit weird but Peter has never failed me before. I miss him on gardening Australia. I’ve had poor results with the potato in the bag technique – too dry and then too wet. Good tip about the watering from mark, I’m tempted to add a little soil….
have just blogged about my experience using this technique too
Isn’t that funny that we wrote on the same thing on the same night – weird how these things work…..Thanks for linking to my post – see addition above.
I have done a similar thing with my potatoes. I read somewhere that you could plant them on a hard surface like cement, as long as you covered them well. I put cardboard down and then did the layer thing over the top. Not sure if I had enough stuff on it, but like you figured, I can put more. Mine have nearly come up and are looking fabulous. Though, I have to say the three I planted in the veggie patch are doing much better. Time will tell. Good luck.
So you planted yours on cement? I have lots of paved areas so if that works……I suspect I would prefer it in the veggie patch to a bit of cardboard too.
You inspired me to get some potato growing bags, so if I have success I have you to thank. And I wholeheartedly approve of your lawn sacrifice 🙂
I do too, the only problem is that with all the manure the whole garden is a little on the smelly side.
I did not potatoes much the same way this year only I put the manure on the bottom then covered with a thin layer of compost, laid the potatoes out and covered with hay. I added hay all summer as the plants grew and was quite pleased with the results at harvest time.
Interesting. Thanks for letting me know – as you’ve had success I will definitely keep adding the hay – I was just wondering whether I need to bother. I wonder if it makes a difference the manure being on the top or the bottom…..