No Dig Potatoes from seed to harvest

See the whole process from sowing to ‘earthing up’ to harvest, by pulling not digging. Potato plants easily root into undisturbed, no dig soil, while developing potatoes need soft, surface material to grow in. It’s often assumed that potatoes just won’t grow in soil that has not been thoroughly loosened, but this video shows the opposite. Filmed at Homeacres April to July 2018, in a spring that started cool and wet, then turned hot and dry after 3rd May. My garden is no dig and you see how few weeds are growing. We spend most of our time planting and picking, about two hours/week on weeding a quarter acre/1000m2.

31 thoughts on “No Dig Potatoes from seed to harvest

  1. Thank you Charles! This is very helpful. This will be my second year of no dig (so far great) and will be first at proper ‘no dig’ potatoes, so thanks for this information. I should be 100% no dig now with this!

  2. This is my first year growing vegetables and after doing lots of research I had come to my own version of no-dig for almost everything, however after breaking my back all day harvesting potatoes I have found this online and am thrilled.

    I will 100% be following this procedure from now on and hope to find more useful information on your site, Charles.

    And the icing on the cake is that I live within 5 minutes of Homeacres so hope to meet you at the forthcoming open day!

    Many thanks

  3. Dear Charles,

    This is my first year of ‘No Dig’ and I’ve been very busy reading your books, diary and calendar. I just have one question. When would you purchase your seed potatoes first early and seconds in order to chit them in time?



    1. No rush Charlie as chitting is not obligatory! However any time from now is good, park them on a windowsill in light. Not in a greenhouse where they might freeze.

  4. I have just had my seed potatoes delivered and I bought an allotment beginners selection of 6 x 1kg which is around 13 seed potatoes of 6 varieties. I went and measured the bed I was hoping to use to grow the potatoes this year which is 4.3m x 1.4m and it seems I will struggle with space. What would you advise? To either grow a smaller selection, maybe 5-6 of each type or grow and harvest the earlies and then plant the main crops mid-June to harvest end Oct/early Nov?

    1. Up to you Darryl, maybe grow earlies mostly as they plant more closely and as you say the space is then free to grow other vegetables

  5. No dig has made it to my backyard farm in Beavercreek, Oregon. I have a couple of potato questions if you don’t mind. I found that if I don’t order my seed potatoes now, there aren’t any left in the shops by the time I want to put them in the ground. Do you have any tips on storing until planting? Also what are your thoughts on sprouting them in a window and cutting/chitting them before planting.
    Anxiously awaiting my 2020 calendar…..

    1. Hi Holly and nice to hear.
      After buying seed potatoes, just lay them one deep in a box and near a window, so the sprouts they make stay short and strong, not long and white which happens if kept dark.
      Those sprouts are called chits. Your two Q’s have one answer, plus I would cut them only of large, which they should not be.

  6. Hi Charles,

    Very excited to be doing more no dig vegetable growing this year as we now have another 4 veg beds in our back garden 😀 (plus 3 in the front garden & another out the back). No dig makes veg growing a lot more accessible for me with a chronic illness which is great. Loving your videos (& books) for hints and tips & direction.

    My question- please could you let me know if there anything that we could plant either in between the potatoes (catch crop like radishes maybe or intercropping?) or very near (potentially cabbages as you had done as they looked pretty close to the potatoes- would you recommend that over putting anything inbetween them? Anything else as well as cabbages that could work well?) thank you in advance 🙂.

    1. Yes I plant multisown radish and turnips (sown now) between potatoes.
      Early cabbage and coriander close.
      Enjoy your new beds!

  7. Hi Charles,
    LOVE your videos and am a complete (novice) convert!
    If I remember correctly, earthing up meant covering the foliage (or is that wrong too?!). Presumably you don’t cover the foliage, just any potatoes that may appear on the soil surface?
    Thanks so much! Excited for NoDig2020!

    1. Lovely to hear Bee and it’s true that earthing up was also to protect foliage from late frosts, if they happened.
      Mostly it’s to stop tubers going green.
      Have a great 2020.

  8. Hi Charles

    Thank you for this video. I have a couple of questions though:
    1) do you water the potatoes after you have planted them?
    2) some of the earlier I have just bought do not have chits, is it still ok to plant them or better to better to leave them until the chits appear?

    1. Pete
      I would mention watering after planting, if I had – there is no point.
      Always fine to plant without chits, when it’s the season.

  9. Thank you for a great video 🙂
    May I ask when would you start to water them? And would you cover with compost as soon as you see potatoes appearing or wait for the 8 weeks?
    Thank you

    1. Watering depends how dry it is.
      In our climate, very rarely.
      Most benefit in final three weeks of growth.
      Compost on top if you see tubers pushing up and at risk of going green in light.

  10. Hello Charles,
    I’m a bit late putting my 1st earlies in the ground this year as the ground was too wet previously. I’m clearing previous crops now to put my earlies in, I’ve got had the chance to prepare my bed for no dig, if I put cardboard down now and compost on top, will my potatoes still grow,
    I’ve only got 3 x 50L compost bags, but 3 x famyard manure bag so how deep should I go and what size bed would you recommend for 1st earlies?
    Sorry for long message!
    Very grateful to you.

    1. Timing is ok.
      You may not need cardboard depending on weed situation.
      Say 3in compost/7cm with potato seed at or just below soil level.

  11. I love your videos and am trying to establish a little more of a garden this year. We have grown a few potato plants in the past, but always from leftovers from the grocery store. I was hoping to do the no dig method this year and have a whole bag of potatoes from the store that are all covered in chits. So, is it okay to plant so many from the store or am I liable to harm the soil if there is disease? Does it matter if they are organic? The bag I have is yellow potatoes, organic. Thanks so much. Happy Gardening!

    1. Nice to hear Carla and that can work.
      The bag should have a variety name, best do a Search to learn when it’s likely to mature, probably August.
      Plant asap before chits are too long & risk breaking.

  12. Thanks for all your videos! I have a question about earthing up. My potatoes are a new no dig bed this year, sown through the cardboard layer on top. They each have a roughly 3 inch sq hole to grow through. Should I still be earthing them up or will the cardboard offer enough protection? I’m thinking that a spade full of compost won’t do any harm to each one?
    Many thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Pam and both possibilities can work. If you have enough compost, yes some on top will be good. And over leaves before late frost!

  13. Hi Charles, my potatoes have been hit 3 times now by the frost and the leaves have blackened and wilted. Should I leave them or cut them back as new growth (hopefully) comes through?
    Many thanks again for your super advice!

  14. Hi Charles. If you’re growing potatoes in a bag/sack, do you need to fill with compost to top of bag or can you just put initial layer on top and leave to grow up?

    1. As the plant grows, say with a small amount of compost, potatoes push up and go green in light + roots run out of food & moisture, so you need to keep topping up, keep potatoes covered & white, until leaves go yellow = harvest time

  15. Hi Charles, This winter we moved to a new home with 1/2 acre garden, very heavy clay soil, former pastureland. I happened to find a 15k bag of Arran Pilot seed potatoes at B&Q for £2! I just dug a little hole in the grass sod for each spud with a trowel and covered the whole area with plenty of (fresh!) horse manure, however with a very high proportion of straw. (A lady up the road has a couple of horses, and I first inquired as to how her hay and straw are grown.) Now I have been harvesting, and am amazed at the size of the potatoes and how the crop has loosened the soil. Only problem now is whether the potatoes will store long enough for us to eat them. I have built a clamp using straw, wire mesh and old carpets, and hope we don’t get another heat wave. Many thanks for your tips and inspiration.

    1. What a wonderful result Frances.
      Quite similar approach to Irish lazy beds. Good luck with storing them. Heat is less an issue than perhaps rodents.

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