Growing potatoes under straw

Submitted Photo The potato garden under straw is growing, shown in August.
Submitted Photo Master Gardeners plant straw mulch potato patch.
Submitted Photo Mulch is spread on the potato plot.

Growing potatoes under straw is not a new growing method. It is an old method that is not a widely adapted. The Ward County Master Gardeners wanted to use this planting method to demonstrate low labor/low impact gardening. Earlier last spring they hosted a program with speakers addressing gardening techniques and methods to reduce labor and physical impacts on gardeners. It was aimed at senior citizens and people with physical challenges and limitations but all gardeners were invited. As a follow-up to this program, they planned and planted a potato garden under straw to demonstrate this labor saving gardening method.

The demonstration garden is located at the North Central Research Extension Center, south of Minot. Shana Forster, Center director, and her staff provided the land and technical assistance for the project.

The ground was rototilled prior to planting. The potatoes were planted on June 8. The seed potatoes were placed on top of the ground in rows spaced at 3 feet. After placing, straw was spread over the whole bed to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. The potatoes were watered twice over the summer.

The public is invited to a tour of the Straw Mulch Potato plot on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 10:30 a.m., hosted by the Master Gardeners. The Master Gardeners will give a short program on challenges and problems encountered during the project. They will offer suggestions to improve the straw planting method for others from what they learned planting and growing the plot. Attendees will be able to view and inspect the potatoes mulch growing and ask questions of the Master Gardeners. At the conclusion of the short program the Master Gardeners will harvest the potatoes. The potatoes will be weighed and donated to area food pantries.