In April 2010, I planted organic ‘German Butterball’ seed potatoes in the Organic Gardening test plots near Emmaus, Pennsylvania, using the following seven methods. For the five raised planting techniques, I used a mixture of 2 parts topsoil to 1 part compost. Through the course of the growing season, the benefits and drawbacks of each became clear.
1. Hilled Rows
Dig straight, shallow trenches, 2 to 3 feet apart, in prepared soil. Plant seed potatoes 12 inches apart and cover with about 3 inches of soil. When the shoots reach 10 to 12 inches tall, use a hoe or shovel to scoop soil from between rows and mound it against the plants, burying the stems halfway. Repeat as needed through the growing season to keep the tubers covered.
Cons: Yield may be limited by the quality of the soil. In places where the soil is badly compacted or low in organic matter, one of the aboveground techniques might work better.