Do potatoes HAVE to be hilled to produce? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I was visiting my neighbor last week admiring her garden and came upon her potatoe plants. They were planted with black mulch just like you would plant a tomato plant and they were about 18 inches tall. She had not hilled them at all. When I asked her if those were potaotes, she answered they were, that this was the first time she had raised them. I then tried to gently tell her about hilling them and since she had them planted under black plastic I suggested that she use straw/hay/grass clippings to mulch them up. I was just wondering if she doesn't get the plants covered in some manner whether or not they would still produce some potaotes or is it too late. I've always mulched or hilled mine from the get go so I didn't have the experience to advise her. Does anyone know?

-- Colleen (, June 11, 2001


You dont have to hill them, but if you don't, you will get far less of a crop per plant. If you hill them, you cause the plants to form a much greater root system, which in turn will cause more tubers to be formed. We have grown them both ways, and have found that the labor involved in hilling soil around potatoes is often just not worth the effort. Currently, we are planting them in a surface scratching of soil, and after the plants are up well, we throw on foot-deep mounds of mulch to "hill" the plants. They make potatoes in the mulch, which is a lot easier to dig around in for harvesting.

-- daffodyllady (, June 11, 2001.

The older lady next door to me plants hers through plastic too.

-- Thumper (, June 12, 2001.


I've had a Kennebec potato come up volunteer in my mulch pile that out produced everything I had planted, watered, hilled and weeded. The potatos were perfect, clean and had much smoother skin than the ones from the regular garden. Go figure!

-- Frank (, June 12, 2001.

I have never hilled my potatoes, so I can't say if the yield is higher or not. I live in southeast TX and I just plant them in a raised bed, about 6" down, and I don't cover them as they grow, I just let them grow. I dug seven plants of Red LaSoda about two weeks ago, when the plants had matured (we plant potatoes here in mid- January and harvest in mid-May) and got about 23 lbs. for seven plants. These were mostly large red potatoes. Each plant had at least five or six large spuds with several smaller 'new' potato sized spuds and a few tiny seed sized. I dug the rest, about 55 plants total, a week later but did not weigh the final harvest, but it was quite a few potatoes. I've given away a lot to family memebers and I still have what looks to be about a six month or more supply for myself.

-- HannahMariaHolly (, June 13, 2001.

Hi, Colleen~ You know, I always thought you were supposed to hill them so you wouldn't get any "green" potatos that were exposed to the sun. Maybe the black plastic protects the tubers from the sun so hilling isn't necessary?

Jennifer L.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (, June 13, 2001.

We don't "hill" our potatoes either. We dig a trench in the soil and put the potatoe eyes in and cover with old hay or straw and even the hay after cleaning out the goat pens, manure and all. They seem to do very well and very, very easy to find when harvesting time comes. It's been many years since we grew them any other way so I can't tell if they grow better...To Hill Or NotTo Hill...Guess that is the question ?? Good Luck !!

-- Helena Di Maio (, June 15, 2001.

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