facebook pinterest twitter google instagram rss

How to Plant Potatoes ~ No-Dig Method

UPDATE: I first published this on how to plant potatoes using the NO-DIG Method two years ago and have been planting my potatoes following these guidelines ever since.  For the last two years, I harvested well over 200 pounds of potatoes each year! Yesterday, I shared my tips for preparing seed potatoes for planting, and I also finally planted my three types of potatoes as well. Because it’s time to plant potatoes NOW in Zone 5, I thought I would re-run this post. Enjoy.

Potatoes are one of my very favorite crops to grow! For one thing, organic potatoes are hard to find in my area, and when I do find them, they are really expensive. Potatoes are also found on the Dirty Dozen list – which means that they contain a lot of pesticides. Since I keep my grocery costs down by buying from Environmental Working Group’s Dirty 12 / Clean 15 List, I try to grow as many of the “dirty” foods as possible.

cut potato seeds for planting

But beyond that, potatoes are just awesome! I think they are a very pretty plant and digging them up in the fall is like going on a treasure hunt. It’s always fun to see what’s down there, buried in the dirt. {Yes, I know I am a little weird…} But really, I just love to eat potatoes!!

So this is my 4th year growing potatoes. The first year I had really great results – mostly by accident and luck. The second and third year were not so great. The second year my garden was planted over the roots of walnut trees, which I later learned was a big no-no {walnut trees emit a chemical called juglone which is toxic to a lot of plants}. And last year, I planted my potatoes too late in the season and then did not keep them watered well during our drought. I still had a small crop, but I was pretty disappointed with the results.

planting potatoes

This year I really read up on how to plant potatoes, in an attempt to find the “best” way and to make much more educated decisions about my potato patch. I found that there are a lot of different methods for growing potatoes! Some people advocate cutting seeds and letting them “cure” for anywhere from 1-4 days.  Some people advocate cutting and planting right away. And some people advocate not cutting them at all.

I finally decided to cut my potatoes and cure them. I cut them Saturday night and let them cure for 3 days {by accident}. In this time, they developed a crust of sorts {a protective layer} that is supposed to help protect them from rotting in the damp, cold soil. Since our soil is really damp and still a bit cold, I hope this protective crust will be really helpful.

And then I had to decide how to plant them. The ISU Extension Office advocates planting them 3-4 inches under ground, and according to folklore, they should be planted on Good Friday in my area. Well, our dirt was not workable then as it was still snow covered and frozen. My Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening advocates a “no-dig” approach. They claim the no-dig approach reduces time it takes to plant, makes back breaking digging unnecessary, reduces loss of moisture, and results in fewer weeds being brought to the surface. Sounds good to me!IMG_1868

I ended up digging shallow trenches with my hoe down the entire length of my garden as my book recommends planting them in a trowel hole if there is still risk of frost – and we have that risk here until mid May. My kids helped me put the potato seeds, eye facing up, in the holes, and I gave them a 12″ ruler so they could space them the correct distance of 12″ apart. They enjoyed using the ruler to get it right!

IMG_1869It was a pretty wet day. I meant to plant them on Sunday when the weather was nice, but just didn’t get it done. Then, Sunday night it rained. Monday afternoon I was on my way out to plant when my van died. I was lucky to get it to the repair shop, but I was unable to get out to my garden. Monday night it rained a bunch and I was worried that it would be too wet to plant. And it was pretty wet, but after talking with my dad, I decided just to plant the darn things. Rain is in our forecast for a few more days and I was worried that I’d just have to throw out my seed potatoes since I already cut them. Since they have a nice protective layer on them after curing for 3 days, I hope they will grow!

IMG_1877All four of my children enjoyed helping me! It was fun to work with them. sometimes they gripe and irritate me more than I can stand, but they all had fun with this task for some reason.atoes using the no-dig method

In all, we planted close to 150 seed potatoes: a mix of Kennebec, Yukon Gold, and Red Norlands! It took just under and hour from start to finish with everyone helping. I still need to cover each of my 5 rows with a 3″ layer of hay or old straw, and then we will wait.

Once the potatoes start to grow, I will replenish the mulch as necessary to keep them covered. My Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening recommends covering the mulch with grass clippings once the plants are big enough to meet across the rows. They say this will keep the light out of the potatoes to keep the tubers from turning green and that it will also encourage birds to visit and help control pests!

And that’s it! How to Plant Potatoes, in a nutshell! How do you plant yours? I’d love to hear! I will keep you updated on their progress.

Linking up: TGP; Tuesday Greens; Homestead Barn Hop; Natural Living Monday;  Mostly Homemade Monday; Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways;



  1. You have some amazing tips and recipes, I wanted to share this one with you that my daughter brought home from school for "Energy Bars" 1 c. brown sugar (either light or dark, have even used 1/2 sugar and 1/2 molasses-love the flavor) 1 c. vegetable oil ( I used 1/2 c. olive oil and 1/2 cup all natural applesauce) 2 eggs 2 c. oats (I have used both old fashioned and steel cut) 1 1/2 c. flour (I use whatever flour I have on hand; white, wheat, oat, bran) 1 c. raisins (either yellow or purple raisins I dehydrate myself) 1 c. peanuts (I use shelled peanuts that my girls shuck from the shells of bulk peanuts-what a mess that can make!) 1 c. coconut (Can use the store bought stuff, but a home dried coconut tastes WAY better!) 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1 1/2 tsp. groung cloves 1 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt (You can leave this out of the nuts you choose to use are alreadly salted) Honey/Agave Glaze 1/4 c. honey or agave nectar 2 T. unsalted butter (don't need the extra salt, and don't use margarine - it has too much water in it, along with other icky stuff) Warm slowly in microwave over 1/4 power until butter melts into the honey/agave nectar and stir. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 11"x 17" pan (or 2 smaller pans if that is what you have-to make them as thick or thin as you want-thin are crispier, thick are chewier) Mix brown sugar, oil (and applesauce) and eggs until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread mix into pan. (This is kind of like spreading out rice krispie treats.. very sticky and make sure you keep your hands damp with a little water so it doesn't stick) Bake until the center is set, but not firm (around 16-22 minutes-watch them close at the 15 minute mark depending on your oven). Remove from over and let cool for 15 minutes. Drizzle honey/agave mixture over bars, spreading around with a spatula. Let cool completely. Cut into bars and wrap individually in plastic wrap, storing in the refridgerator. Can be frozen for up to 6 months. The thing I like most about this recipe is the flexibility you have. You can change up the raisins, peanuts, coconut and seasonings and make any type of granola bar you want. I have used light and dark brown sugar, and even molasses to give a new flavor. And ground flax seed is my secret weapon for healthy fats and protein. I have added a splash (1/2 tsp) of vanilla or almond extract as well. I am experimenting now with rolling the mixture into balls (a bite or 2) and baking them for 1/2 the time, then drizzling melted chocolate and peanut butter chips over them. I dehydrate a lot of fruits, only because their flavor only intensifies during drying and they rehydrate quickly during the cooking/baking process. I hope you find this recipe helpful and fun, because me and my girls love planning our next recipe combination out. In the world of busy lives and busy kids, it love knowing that while they are munching down on what to them is a "treat", to me is a long-carb burning, low fat, heart healthy snack that is totally mobile. (And let me tell you just how yummy these are to warm up in the microwave and have with yogurt....Ahhhhh!)
  2. Wow that's a lot of potatoes. Mine have started to come up in my little patch. I am going to try to grow trash can potatoes again this year. Last year they didn't do to well.
  3. Looks like family fun! I've always wanted to plant potatoes and this looks really easy. I don't need near the potatoes that you need, but I want some. I have a perfect little bed that I could plant them in and maybe have a few potatoes for the fall. Thanks for the tips!
    • Hi Jill, Sorry for the delayed response. I focus more on how many eyes are in each piece. Some big potatoes are cut into 3rds or 4ths if they have a lot of good eyes. Some smaller ones are cut in 1/2. Some aren't cut at all. Pay attention to eyes, and you should be ok! :-)
  4. I'm a noob when it comes to growing potatoes. I have researched different techniques on how to do it, but have not tried yet since I always lived with roommates with little to no yard. I was just wondering for the future how did the potatoe plants turn out? Do you have other posts or pictures? Did you calculate your results? Thanks Jessi
    • Hi Jessi...I have not harvested all of them, but they are doing great! I've probably dug 15 pounds out so far and still have 85% left in the ground. I {think} it was a success, but time will still tell. You can see a picture of my most recent harvest on this post: https://simplifylivelove.com/2013/08/homestead-update-88-building-our-passive-house.html - scroll on down towards the bottom of the post for the picture. I also post a lot of garden pictures on Instagram, if you're on over there! http://instagram.com/simplifylivelove
  5. Hi. Let me get this straight. You dug the row, placed the potatoes, did not cover them with dirt but did cover them with mulch. You also continued coveting them with mulch until they were ready to be harvested? Is this right? I shared a garden area with a few other people this year but I think growing my potatoes (dig, cover with dirt, water, harvest), next to someone else's hollyhocks really produced a small yield of potatoes. Please let me know if I described your planting method correctly. Anxious to try in next summer. Have a great week. I so love your site!! Gail
    • Hi Gail, so I just trench a very shallow hole with my hoe. Then I add the potatoes, cut side down, then I cover them with a little bit of dirt and then a bunch of straw. Keep adding straw as they grow so the potatoes don't become exposed to the sun as they grow. :-) Alternatively, you don't have to put them in any kind of hole at all. Just throw them right on top of the ground and cover with straw or mulch. :-) Good luck!
  6. Hello madam Marine, I am sayed Hasibullah SHAMS from Afghanistan, I am agriculture professional and earn my bachelor in Agronomy but I would like to add some points for your guide, do not slice potatoes when you are planting them hence if you slice potatoes they will be infecting by germ such as Bacteri, Virus and other daises factors. All the Best SHAMS Mob# 0093772324525 Skype:hasibshams
  7. Namaste' Michelle ! The Simplify in the site name got picked up by the search engine, and no-dig potatoes ! The Simplify is something I look into, relating to vegan recipes, and the [Essene] Gospel of Peace [of Christ Jesus], Szekely, E.B. ed. [Book One], about some benefits of simple food, not all mixed up. Also, I did just get to plant some reds and some kind of Georgia white potatoes, no dig, It looks like it will grow nicely since I put in some aged wood chip and aged landscaping mulch and free friendly manures ! Also, it is a blessing to have homeschooling back ! Good for you all ! LOVE ALL
  8. I mulched with wood chips, straw bedding from stalls and old hay last year and had several nests of mice living in the potatoes and chewing on the the young growing potatoes under the soil, :( Good luck and I suggest keep cats, ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *