Last summer I experimented by growing half of our potatoes under mulch and half hilled-up with dirt in the old traditional way. Those grown under mulch produced exactly half the amount as those grown in dirt.
For some reason, my husband didn't want me to grow any under mulch this year. Heck, why does he have to be so sensible? Where's his sense of adventure?
Actually, I kinda sort agreed with him. It's just that I hate hilling up potatoes.
But I went ahead and planted our 80 feet of taters the old-fashioned way; in four rows, hilled-up with dirt. I've hilled them up three times now, and that's all I'm gonna do. (How's that for showing a real streak of independence?)
Still, I wanted to try growing some under mulch.
This then, dear readers, is my interpretation of growing potatoes under mulch in a wire cage, or in tires stacked on top of each other, or in a barrel. It's a three foot tall cold frame that we originally built as an experiment last year . . . one that didn't work, but we won't go into that just now.
I planted 21 seed potatoes in a 4' x 8' raised bed and then set this cold frame on top without a cover on it. As soon as the potato plants started emerging from the soil, I tossed in some mulch.
I've already added three layers of mulch, but I'm having trouble keeping those plants that grow right up against the side of the cold frame covered. I don't know why, but they pop right up and out almost as soon as I finish covering them with mulch. Oh, well. Maybe they'll still grow good potatoes underneath.
As the greenery grows, I'll keep tossing in more mulch until it reaches the top of the cold frame . . . if the plants grow that high.
Is this gonna work? Obviously, the sides of the enclosure are made of greenhouse plastic which lets the sun's rays in. But when you grow potatoes under mulch in a wire cage, the sun gets in there, too, right?
It's definitely an experiment and time will tell if it's going to produce an acceptable harvest. In the meantime, it's 21 potato plants that I don't have to hill-up with dirt!
Just when it couldn't have been more surreal...
4 hours ago