Thursday, April 19, 2012

Planting spuds (no-dig method)...

 Today was spud planting day!  First thing this morning, I helped the guys work the steers.  We weighed them and vaccinated them against pink eye, a disease that often comes up during a dry, hot summer.  That was a job well done.  My goal for the day was to get my 28 pounds of spuds planted in the afternoon and oh joy, it happened, mainly because of Honey Bun and his tractor.  The nice thing about ranching is that we have some heavy duty tools that most backyard gardeners don't have, plus I have a willing man to help me!  I help him;  he helps me!

This is my first time planting spuds in the "no dig method."  I've only ever planted potatoes the old fashioned way -- digging deep in the soil, then at harvest, digging them up with a spade and cutting through many a potato.  The first picture shows my spot.  It's a patch of old grass right next to my veggie garden/raised beds.  This terrible soil.  First we spread a few inches of rotted manure right over the grass and did no tilling.  I put newspaper over part of the manure, but  I ran out of newspaper so we just finished the rest without it.

 Next, we laid the potatoes in, eyes down, on the soil.  We planted five rows in a spot 26' x 15'.  This year I planted Yukon Gold (our fav) and Kennebec Red potatoes.  I bought the seed potatoes at the feed store and they were so nice that I'm hopeful that their babies will grow up to be every bit as good as their parent potatoes.  (Now I'm having a vision of Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head and their children.) 

Lastly, we covered the entire bed with about 1 foot of straw and then watered it down really well.  I started watering  by hand with the garden hose, but decided to set the sprinkler and let it soak for a good hour or more.  We had a nice shower of rain after that which was perfect timing.

This is what I hope my potato plants look like in a few weeks when they start pushing through the straw.  It all depends on how warm the temps are and how much rain we get. I have a hydrant right next to this potato patch so I'll be able to keep it watered if needed.  Some no-dig potatoes hardly need any water due to the deep mulch.  Next up -- planting the onion sets.  The rest of the veggie beds will have to wait until we are past our last frost date which is some time in mid to late May. Have you ever planted spuds in a deep bed of straw mulch?  Any tips or encouragement?

If you are interested in planting a No-Dig Potato Patch, check out these resources.


  1. Your soil looks amazing! It's tater planting time around here as well.

  2. I haven't tried this. My neighbor plants his in hills that he keeps adding to as the season goes on. I remember as a kid going behind my grandfather's tractor. He turned the potatoes over and the kids would pick them up and put them in the buckets. No matter if you used tractor or hoe, some of them did get hacked.

  3. Your soil does look wonderful Jody! I haven't actually tried this method, but I bet you have a great crop. We have sooo much wind here, that my straw tends to blow away! I'm excited to follow you on your spud growing adventure:).


    PS: Thank you for your nice comment...I LOVE visiting your blog because you reflect what I would like to be in about 12 years! I can tell that you have such wonderful relationships with your children and just love your grand babies:). I know I will miss this season that I am in right now, but you provide such a great example of what I have to look forward to:)!

  4. Hi Jody!
    This reminds me of Ruth Stout and the Youtube video of her with her methods of gardening. So smart! Hooray for spuds!

  5. Can't wait to see how you like your new tater planting method. Love the no digging part -- being the lazy gardener I am. But this I might be able to do ;).

  6. Jody, I'm so interested in how this all goes for you! Do you guys have a lot of wind in this area? My grandparent's are always trying such new and interesting methods with their gardening-I'm going to have to mention this to them. We don't plant until May long---but really that's coming up!

    Loved your post on the stock as well---I have only boiled my bones for a few hours---I'm going to give this a shot.

    Hope you have a great weekend.

  7. hhhmmmm . . . we have plans on planting our potatoes and onions this weekend. now i'm wondering if we should give this a try but i do wonder if the wind will blow the straw away as sometimes we do get VERY high winds . . .

    i hope this works out for you.


  8. We DO have lots of wind here and I'm a bit concerned about that, but I'm hoping that since it will be watered sporadically if the straw might lodge and not be blown to much. I used straw on my pathways between my raised beds last year with no problems. It's an experiment. I'll keep you posted.


  9. Hubby has done this and he says it works great....myself I used ol tires stacking as the plant grows to have all the potatoes in the hay when it dies off...gonna try this method in my garden up here....thanks Jody!

  10. Can't wait to see how your potatoes turn out. Anything to make it easier, is a great thing to me!! Clarice


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