Country Lore: Growing Potatoes in Hay

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Grow potatoes in hay to keep them from rotting before harvest time

I live in Texas where most of our soil is a heavy black gumbo, but I’ve learned a method of growing potatoes in hay so they don’t rot before harvest time.

I have a raised bed of black soil, compost, manure and autumn leaves, which decompose over the winter. I till the bed about 10 to 12 inches down and plant my seed potatoes on top of the ground. Then, I place a 2-foot high tomato cage over the potatoes and put hay in the cage until it reaches the top. I add a 1-pound coffee can of soil on top of the hay and water it thoroughly. This compresses the hay, so I add more to bring the hay level up to the top of the cage.

During the growing season the plants do need to be watered, but this system retains the water.

The potato plants eventually grow out of the top of the hay and trail over the side of the cage. At the end of the season, I get a good harvest of potatoes without fear of their having rotted.

LaVonne Nowlin
Fort Worth, Texas

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