We may or may not have seen or experienced the benefits of using raised beds as of yet, so if not, it may be time to have a look at how manageable this system is for growing our vegetables. The amount of hard work that this idea has eliminated, has enabled us to spend more and more of our time, given over to the responsibility of tending and caring for our veggies. The raised bed system is a very organised and disiplined idea and the whole concept of raised garden beds will make our gardening more enjoyable and very interesting for everyone.
Growing potatoes in a raised bed is perhaps more frightening and intimidating that it actually seems to a lot of people, but the fact is, it could’nt be easier. We in the western world eat a certain amount of potatoes as part of our staple diet, whereas those in asia or eastern regions of the world would probably say that rice is part of their staple diet. Potatoes come in many forms like mashed or roasters for our dinners or perhaps in their jackets, they could come in the form of chips or french fries and may also appear as crisps, snacks and so on. So therefore, we may not have them everyday, but we will still have them on other and different occasions, albeit in a different menu.
The preperation of our raised beds for potatoes is similar to what we would do for other varieties of vegetables or plants, but we will need to have the soil enriched by either farmyard or organic fertiliser, as potatoes by nature are vigorous growers. The potatoes that we would grow or sow will need to be certified as seed potatoes and can be sourced from any garden centre or nursery. It is important that we adhere to this important step for beginners especially, as it would be a disaster if we went to all the trouble of setting our own potatoes and they came to nothing in the end.
The certification that comes with the purchased potatoes means that they have been tested for diseases and certain fungus that is prevalent in the potato tubers and most importantly that they are blight resistant. As blight can wipe out a whole crop of potatoes, this is why it is always safer to buy the seed potatoes than say, using our own leftovers from the previous year. Some people go down this road, but they would be expert gardeners and are pretty confident that what they plant will come good. It takes a trained eye and years of knowledge to pick good potatoes that would be suitable for planting, year after year.
How to sow or plant potatoes;
Like we have mentioned previously, the soil plays such an important part in this exercise. If we have that part of the equation figured out, it is very simple there afterwards. Make a little ridge or trench in the soil about 4-6″ deep and ensure that these rows are approx. one foot apart. Place the seed potatoes into the trench about 12″ apart and then cover over with the displaced soil from the trench, and we are done, it’s that simple. Another issue that is worth looking at, and that is, that the eye or stem of the seed potato is facing upwards. This is what will eventually become the stalks or stems and will grow the leaves, which in turn help the growth of the potatoes. A good rule of thumb to observe here is, allow a square foot in every direction per potato seed.
Chitting seed potatoes;
This is another part of the growing potatoes exercise that sometimes, is considered more of a custom that a requirement. There are no substantial benefits to carrying out this step, nevertheless, some garden, or allotment growers will swear by this measure. It is where we place the seed potatoes on a window sill or well ventilated area, so that the seed will start to sprout. This is often done by placing the seed potatoes in an egg box, or the equivalent that would hold them upright for a day or so, before planting. It allows the stem to mature and gives us a better understanding of how the whole process works. The whole idea is to encourage the sprouting or growing process a little before the planting begins.
Being more productive with the seed potatoes;
If this is our first time growing potatoes in a raised bed, I would not recommend the following, which is, cutting some of the seed potatoes in halves, in order to double our harvest production. This step is only done, if the seed potato is considerably large or has two or more stems, buds or eyes. Our resulting sliced seed potato ( as per image below ) should be approx the size of a golf ball or tomato and will work perfectly, thereafterwards. If our original seed potato is about the size of an apple or so, then that would be perfect for dividing into two or in some cases into three parts. We only do this exercise if we know what we are doing, but it is still a great way of being productive and thrifty. By all means, try it out with one or two and see how the results fare out, it is perhaps afterall, the only way we will learn.
Potato raised bed maintenance;
As soon as the stems appear overground and have grown to three or four inches, it is critical that we rise the soil up around the stalks. This will ensure that the tubers will have plenty soil to expand and grow. This exercise will need to be repeated every 3-4 weeks, so that we will have a bountiful harvest after all of our hard work and endeavour. Depending on where we live and how hot the conditions are, some people would mulch the raised beds a little, so as to prevent moisture loss. Watering may also be required from time to time, again depending on the prevailing climate and conditions. Expect a harvest of potatoes after approx 90 days or so.
I trust that this information will be beneficial and informative to those starting out on their gardening adventures. If you would like to contact us an any issue or concerns about growing potatoes in a raised bed or indeed anything gardening related, please do so, via the comments box down below. If you would prefer to contact us through email directly, you may do so here;