How To Plant Potatoes In a Raised Bed

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Planting potatoes in the home vegetable garden is not very difficult, but does have a couple important steps. A very important thing to remember about growing potatoes is to make sure you use certified seed potatoes. You can use store bought potatoes as seed potatoes, but certified potatoes are best to help prevent diseases, such as blight. Certified seed potatoes have been checked and assured that no diseases are prevalent in the seed potatoes.

There are many different ways to grow potatoes – from using a garbage can, to using a tall potato grow box, to just planting them in hills and rows. I will be planting some potatoes in a raised bed this year that had butter beans last year.

Chitting The Seed Potatoes

The seed potatoes must first be chitted for a little while before planting. Yes – chitting. Hey, I’m not making this up!

Chitting is simply letting the eyes of the potatoes grow out a bit before planting. You can place the seed potatoes in a small box or on newspaper and set them in a warm, dry area. After a couple days the eyes will begin to grow out some.

In the picture below I have my Red Pontiac seed potatoes after chitting for a couple days.

Chitted Seed Potatoes

As you can see the eyes of the potatoes have grown out quite a bit. You do not need to let them grow this long. Once they start sprouting just a little, you can plant the seed potatoes. Don’t tell anyone – I let these seed potatoes chit just a bit too long, but they are still good to plant.

Cutting The Seed Potatoes For Planting

Once the seed potatoes have chitted and sprouted some eyes, it is time to cut the seed potatoes for planting. Small seed potatoes – about 2 to 3 inches in diameter – do not need to be cut. They can be planted directly in the raised bed. If you have seed potatoes that are quite large, they should be cut into smaller pieces.

Cut Seed Potatoes Into Smaller Pieces

The biggest thing to remember when cutting the seed potatoes is each piece needs to have at least two eyes. One eye per piece is the bare minimum, but two or more is better. Remember, if the piece doesn’t have at least one eye, it will not sprout a new potato plant.

Let The Seed Potato “Scab” After Cutting

Here is where many potato growers may differ in potato planting methods. Some gardeners will say you need to let the cut potato scab over before planting to prevent rotting, while others will say it doesn’t really make a difference.

I decided to let the potato pieces scab over to hopefully prevent rotting. Scabbing over is simply letting the potato form a scab over the exposed insides of the potato from the cutting process. Just let the potato pieces rest with the cut side exposed over night. The exposed cut area will form a skin-like seal over the cut area.

Allow Seed Potato Pieces To Scab Over

As you can see in the picture above, the seed potato piece has formed a hard skin-like surface over the exposed flesh.

Prepare The Raised Bed For Planting

Now that the seed potatoes are ready for planting, it is time to prepare the planting bed. I will be planting my potatoes in a four foot by four foot raised bed that is 12 inches deep. This raised bed is filled with top soil, mushroom compost and a little bit of perlite to aid in moisture retention.

I like to take a small board or any flat surface and smooth the top of the raised bed, if needed.

Prepare Raised Bed

Once the soil is smoothed out, I take a trowel and create the planting trenches. I create a trench that is about four inches deep and about one foot apart. In this raised bed, I was able to create three rows for planting the seed potatoes.

Dig Rows for planting Potatoes

Planting The Seed Potatoes

After the trenches have been completed, it is time to start planting the seed potatoes pieces. I lay out the seed potato pieces in the trenches about six to eight inches apart.

Plant Seed Potatoes In Rows

Here is the very important part of planting the seed potatoes:

Make sure the seed potato eyes are facing up!

The eyes must be facing up to ensure the potato plants sprout correctly. If the eyes are facing down or to the side, the plant may never sprout.

Plant Seed Potatoes With Eyes Up

Once you have set out the seed potatoes in the trenches with the proper spacing, and the eyes up, it is now time to cover them up with soil. I simply rake the soil over the seed potatoes covering them with about 4 inches of soil. I also placed a stick at the end of each row so I will know where I planted the potatoes later on. This can help to figure out what’s a potato seedling and what is a possible weed.

Cover Seed Potatoes With Soil

Water The Seed Potatoes

When the seed potatoes are covered, it is time to water the bed thoroughly. It is important to water the seed potatoes well, but not too much. Over-watering the seed potatoes could cause them to rot.

Water Seed Potatoes Well

Maintaining The Potato Plants

In a couple weeks the seed potatoes should begin sprouting. At this time you can cover the bed with a good mulch such as straw. Since potatoes can be thirsty plants, it is a good idea to use mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds. When the plants reach about six inches tall, hill more soil around the plant, covering all but the leaves. Continue this until hilling soil around the plant until it blooms and the blooms begin to die back. At this time the potatoes will be ready to harvest.

How do you grow potatoes in your vegetable garden?

Please share your potato planting and growing tips!

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Comments

  1. Hey Tee,

    That’s pretty much the tactics I used in my potato pool this year. I just used a used up (week wacked) kiddie pool as my raised bed. The potatoes are doing great so far! I forgot to cut them ahead of time so I didn’t let them scab. They seem to be doing ok anyway.
    .-= Jackie Lee´s last blog ..Recycle Your Pop Boxes ~ In the Garden! =-.

    • Hi Jackie,

      I love your potato pool idea! I think cutting the seed potato into smaller pieces is really not mandatory. Most people cut the larger pieces so they get more seeds out of the bunch. If you didn’t cut yours, I think you will be just fine.

      I can’t wait to see how your potato pool turns out. I bet you get a huge heap of home grown potatoes!

      Tee

  2. I seem to be having a problem getting my potatoes to grow. I live in Texas and it’s very hot here. I did hill potatoes this year. Did what I was suppose to do, scab, 2 plus eyes, plant eyes up , full sun and hilled when the plant got taller. Planted late August here when the Temp started dropping to 85-90 in the day. They sprouted and grew about 7 inches. They never looked like all the other photos of full plants though.They were watered every other day. I started with 11 plants and one by one died.I got up one morning and they were dead. I dug each hill up and found a very small potato not even 2-3 inches long. What am I doing wrong? My husband built me a raised bed system for the spring planting. Any ideas?

    • Hi Doti,

      I think maybe the biggest issue is temperature. Potatoes like cool weather and do not grow well in warm or hot temperatures. Ideally, I plant potatoes around St. Patrick’s Day (temperatures are usually in the 50′s and 60′s). They grow much better in the cooler temps. It’s also a good idea to mulch around the plants to cool the soil cool and maintain moist soil. I hope this helps!

      • Thank you. I wil try this. I planted some in October in a small raised bed to see what happens. It doesn’t get very cold here, sometimes dipping into the 40s at night. But I will try St. patrick day planting an see what happens. My tomatoes, garlic, onions and carrots are okay with this Sept-Dec weather. Thanks again

        • Doti:
          I live in Spicewood, TX. My potatoes are always in the ground by Valentine’s Day. (Just an easy way for me to always remember). They are usually harvested by June, when temps get too hot for them to thrive any longer. I have great success with this timing. Good luck!

          Sondra

  3. Ellen Peavey says:

    I live in north east Georgia and I’m trying the no dig way for potatoes. I put down a raised bed then a big layer of newspaper then compost then a layer of straw. Next I planted the potatoes then covered them with a six inch layer of straw, after two weeks they started to pop up covered with four more inches of straw. This morning I saw a mouse come out of the bed. Will it eat the potatoes? Is there any thing I can do to get rid of it?

    • Hi Ellen – That’s a toughie. I don’t know for sure if the mouse will eat the potatoes, but it is probably likely since they chew on just about anything they find.

      Maybe get a cat? ;-)

      You could try placing mouse traps around the area, but that’s not the most humane way of dealing with them. I’ve seen ultrasonic repellers for gophers and moles. They may work for mice. I’m not sure about that, but I would ask at the garden center.

      You can also get in touch with your local cooperative extension for your county/city. They may have some great ideas for running off mice.

  4. Hello!
    I just found your site and I’m taking note of all! I’m starting to build a raised bed out of some timber that was left in my garden. We’re started to dig a bit the ground, but not too much as it is quite hard. I’m a bit confused with the layers of soil, straw, manure, newspaper, etc… that I hear people talk about. So I’m trying to find out what would be the best.
    I live in the west coast of Ireland and I’m going to use seaweed as fertiliser, many people use it here for their veg beds. I’m also using my chickens manure mixed with straw from their nest. I hope it all helps!
    I’ll be asking questions for sure…and will tell you how I’m getting on!
    thanks for the useful instructions
    Irina

  5. catherine hally says:

    This is a great site.!!explains everything in detail,especially for me as im thinking of growing my own veg and this site and all the posts make it not as scary as i thought it might be to attempt to finally have my own fresh veg .thank you.

    Catherine
    Ireland

  6. This is my first year planting potatoes, I am wondering if I can plant anything inbetween the trenches as I have limited space.

  7. Seems like all comments (except Ireland) are down south. I live in western Washington where nights are in the mid 30s and highs about 50. The problem here is it rains almost every day until the 4th of July when it stops almost completely and we have no rain until September. The problem we have here is the garden soil is just mud until late May. I have roto tilled and it is like muck. I would like to get potatoes in but think they would just rot. Would raised beds help here?

    • Hi Russ,

      Like Irina, I live in Ireland, too, and we’re well known for all the rain that we get. Would be comparable to the American northwest.

      I planted our potatoes last year in new top soil and they thrived until wireworm struck the remainder of the crop. So, this year I’m using raised beds filled with FYM and compost, which has been sterilized. Drainage is excellent, although rot was never a problem when planted in the ground.

      This system should work where you live, as well.

      Good luck!

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