Planting Potatoes

I've been growing potatoes for many years and plant the usual way; I plant them in a row, below ground level, and hill two or three times during the growing season.
The other night we were watching a BBC series called "Foyle's War", which takes place in England during WWII. In one scene, they were on a farm where people were planting potatoes. They had plowed the field with a newly acquired tractor into long, parallel ridges, about 2 feet high and 3 feet apart, and were planting the seed potatoes along the tops of the ridges. I guess the plan was that the plants would put down roots into the ridges and produce tubers down there.
Would that really work or was this just poetic license of life on the farm? I'd always heard that potato plants don't put out tubers below the level of the original seed potatoe, hence the hilling to build the ridges around the plants.
Paul
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Other than that, "Foyle's War" is a great series. The potato planting seems a bit whacked though.
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Stick it the ground or cover it with leaves or just let it be about . Stuff that wants to grow will getting out of the way vs helping all human constructs.
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Pavel314 wrote:

Perhaps they screenwriter was incompetent or subtly trying to say that the planters were incompetent. During those times all kinds of people had to substitute for workers who had gone to war so they didn't necessarily know what they were doing to start with.

You are correct. Plant them in holes or trenches.
David
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I just laid mine on top of the ground and covered them with straw. Worked perfectly, and they weren't even dirty when I harvested them! --S.
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Suzanne D. wrote:

how deep was the straw?
David
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About 18 inches (45 cm). I piled it up little by little as the plants grew, to within 5 inches of the top of the plants. When I needed potatoes, I just moved the straw over to the side and picked some up from the ground. --S.
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Gary Woods AKA K2AHC- PGP key on request, or at home.earthlink.net/~garygarlic Zone 5/6 in upstate New York, 1420' elevation. NY WO G
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Suzanne D. wrote:

But you wouldn't plant the seed taters on a ridge described by the OP without the straw would you. The deep straw has the same effect (dark, nutrients, moisture) as burying them, I think we are describing two ways to do the same thing rather than opposites. I like the idea of not having to dig them but I have plenty of soil and not so much straw.
David
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No, I guess not. I was being conversational at this time rather than helpful to the OP!
The deep straw has the same effect (dark,

Our soil is heavy clay, so it's hard to grow things that need a lot of underground space. The straw method (actually lots of old mowed grass) worked best for us. Now, if someone can tell me how to grow carrots aboveground, I'd be very appreciative! --S.
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Now, if someone can tell me how to grow carrots

Not exactly aboveground, but this worked well for me with some pretty big Daikons:
Make a couple of passes down the future row with the rototiller so the soil is nice and soft; till about 3' wide (with my soil, "soft" is relative). Then, walking to each side of the row, pull soil to the center with a hoe. You should wind up with a raised ridge a bit over a foot high, and much lighter than what passes for dirt around here. Plant along the top of the ridge. Not as much work as you might thing; I did a couple of 30-foot rows in less than a half hour each. The roots did famously, and I might even get brave and try carrots next summer!
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wrote:

BZZZT! Thanks, but our soil is heavy clay, and rototilling it just compacts it more. I never had "nice and soft" soil when I tilled it; it was only after I stopped tilling and started to build my own soil with organic stuff did it finally become plantable. I did try carrots in it back when it was only clay, and they looked like little radishes! --S.
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Buckwheat, and rye can do wonders to clay soil. I grow it until May, when I plant, cover it over with alfalfa, water, and wait two weeks before I plant. When I pull weeds, nearly all the roots come up.
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I LOVE buckwheat as a cover crop! I grows so wonderfully here. Maybe in a few years I'll be able to actually plant things in my soil instead of building new soil. --S.
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Unless you live in an area where the snakes like to live in straw also.
Dwayne
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Dwayne wrote:

I was watching a demonstration of a permaculture garden which was very interesting and included providing habitat for predators of pests. Every mandala had its own lizard "house" which was a pile of large loose stones. The lizards were being encouraged to take up residence to eat snails and slugs etc. All good. I had to point out that this idea was not useful for me as I would get a couple of species of elapid snakes taking up the space instead of lizards. For the same reason I have to be very strict on rodent control.
David
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We get king snakes around here occasionally, and there may be some poisonous ones that I simply have never seen, but I always move the straw back with a rake anyway, and just pick up the potatoes instead of sticking my hand in to get them. --S.
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If I had a wet field I might do it this way.
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g'day paul,
our preffered method returns a 5:1 ratio is simple as see our site for our instant potato patch, ths way we utilise winter lawn space instead of doing any digging or using needed garden space used for brassica's. the lawn returns quickly the next summer season.
http://www.lensgarden.com.au/instant_potato_patch.htm
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