26 April 2018

Eight Potato Varieties in Minibeds

This is the Purple and Red Trial Collection
from Maine Potato Lady.

I'm pleased to report that I have finally started planting my garden. This year, pretty much all of my garden will be grown in Minibeds. 78% less weeding, no watering, no rototilling, and focused, high culture in manageable, 6-square foot beds worked very well last year.  My wife says it was the best garden I ever grew, and I've been growing gardens for the 37 years of our marriage. 2018 will be year #2 with the Minibed Experimental Garden.

But my results growing potatoes in minibeds last year was only partially satisfying. Although my Onaway potato minibed was a superstar (see ThisYouTube Video), the others were not. This year I'm anxious to see if I can improve my yield, while experimenting with some new potato varieties.

Now, mind you, Minibeds are not suited for growing a winter's supply of spuds. They are, however, ideal for growing some potatoes for fresh eating through the summer, and they are ideal for trialing some new varieties. After all, part of the joy of gardening is trying new varieties.

It is with trialing potatoes in mind that Maine Potato Lady offers  a Purple and Red Trial Collection of seed potatoes. Five seed potatoes of six varieties, as you can see in the photo above (click the photo for a closer look).

And Wood Prairie Farm up in Bridgewater, Maine has their Potato Experimenter's Special. This year I opted to try two varieties of fingerling potatoes from Wood Prairie...

All the seed potatoes got here over a week ago. I put them in a warmish spot and they started to sprout, which is a desirable result. Seeing the sprouts allowed me to position the tubers just right for growth (sprouts up).

I planted all the potatoes whole. The larger ones were planted four to a bed, near the center, about 8" apart, as this next picture shows...

They are 4" to 5" deep. I filled them with a couple inches of soil. I'll fill the depressions in more as the plants emerge and grow.

Then I covered each bed with a cloche. A Whizbang Solar Pyramid cloche. I think that Onaway Minibed did as well as it did last year because I cloched it right after planting. Here's a photo of my garden after planting potatoes today...

The 10 cloched Minibeds that you see are all planted to potatoes—8 different varieties. 

I have some Kennebeck and Yukon Gold potatoes yet to plant. They will go into rows outside the Minibed garden.

It was overcast, cool and dreary outdoors today, but I feel good about having those potatoes planted. I also planted parsnips, parsley, beets, and Romaine Lettuce.

How is your garden coming along?


  1. Stewart GreathouseApril 26, 2018 at 7:01 PM

    Always exciting to see the garden getting kicked off. Here in the deeply southern part of Louisiana we call home, potatoes are usually planted on Valentine's Day. Our's have been doing great this year. We've planted Red LaSoda, a favorite in this part of the country, Yukon Gold, and, for the first time, Caribe, a variety from Wood Prairie in Maine. This has been our first year to order from them ( based on your mentioning them in your past posts) and we have been very pleased with the results. Planning to start digging for market within the next two weeks - those little new potatoes go fast! Looking forward to seeing how year number two goes with the minibeds.

    1. Hi Stewart,

      Memorial Day is the traditional garden-planting date here in upstate NY. But serious gardeners always get some of their garden in before that. Here's wishing you a great potato year.

  2. Elizabeth L. Johnson said, I think I'll garden vicariously through you and your beautiful garden, Herrick, this year. We're still on the 'ranch' job where we get internet but not cell service. We see elk, deer, and wild horses nearly daily, deep in the Trinity Alps. Their granite spires are so close and majestic; especially snow-capped. I don't regret being here in this beauty; but, at home the weeds in the garden are three feet tall (I'm a wanna-be-Minibeds-on-Plastic gardener), and the 30-tree orchard is tall with weeds, and all the roads and trails getting there. But, I trust the Lord's plan in this. God bless, good friend.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      I Googled "Trinity Alps." Wow, that's some amazing geography.

      Your orchard sounds like mine (overgrown with weeds). But it might actually benefit from the "benign neglect." That's what I tell myself.

      Enjoy the Alps. Your garden will be there for you when you get home.

  3. Not a big fan of purple potatoes. Our soil is Black and they don't show up very well when digging them and I have a lot of volunteer potatoes the next year. Otherwise, they taste just like any other potato and they turn an unappealing grey when mashed so picky eaters will turn their nose up without trying them.

    1. You are right about purple potatoes not showing up when digging. I realized that last year. That is definitely a negative, and worth keeping in mind But I don't think I'll miss any in a 6.25 SF minibed.

      Taste is so subjective. Some people are really tuned into taste. I'm like you in that they all taste the same to me. But purple is fun. :-)

      The purple spuds I grew last year were all roasted. I didn't notice an unappealing color change. Grey mashed potatoes don't sound very good. I'll remember that.

      As always, thanks for the comment.

  4. Herrick, late gardening start here in northern WV. Peas, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard are in and up. I planted two rows of potatoes (from Maine Potato Lady) - Green Mt and Red Cloud. Just planted carrots, beets, turnips and scorzonera yesterday using your carrot method - works well with all root crops. Now they're calling for a little snow in the morning. I'm done with snow - ready for warmer weather!

    1. vdeal,

      I woke up to snow on the ground this morning, so I can relate. I'm glad to hear the "carrot method" is working for you. Keeps the soil from crusting over, as well as whatever mysterious happenings that bring the seed up quicker. I planted parsnips and have my cell phone set to remind me to check under the coverings in 9 days. Then I'll have it remind me each day to check, until I see the sprouts. Amazing gardening tool, that cell phone. I seem to recall getting parsnips to sprout in 11 days with the covering method.

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