Is this okay? Or should I just buy some mulch or something & be done with it?
If you mean that you want to mound up something around your potatoes (hill them, as I usually say), I'd just use soil. Pull it up, with a hoe, from the sides of the row. After you've done that you can mulch if you like.
I use a combination of peat moss and straw. That said, I must add the disclaimer that this is my first year growing potatoes, but the plants have done well, and seem to be acting like they are supposed to. One of them has just started to flower, so I should be able to see in another few weeks or so if I have success...
I planted new potatoes on Jan 28th. Covered them with the dark clay soil we have here. When the soil gets wet...can not dig...when it gets dry...its like concrete. So when the plants started showing I covered with the dirt. I did this twice. When they showed through again I covered them with a mulch from wal mart. Not sure it was peat moss. Then as the plants grew I put hay underneath them. I dug the potatoes last week and got 5 5gallon buckets of really good potaotes. This from a sixty foot row with 52 plants. All of the potatoes were just under the mulch that I had used. None were down in the clay dirt. So I would say mulch with what you have and it will be OK. DT
I'd think the peat moss would blow away layer by layer.
Mind you, I use peat moss in my container grown potatoes because it doesn't blow away in the wind. It keeps the pH down (avoiding scab)as I have an alkaline soil here.
But hilling potatoes in an open garden I would assume to be a different story. If used as straight peat moss, it would dry out and blow away. If you mixed it 50/50 with your soil (make sure you mix it very well) and used it, it might work well.
Many thanks everyone! I'll mix it with the dirt and existing mulch.
I never thought of it blowing away.
I don't use dirt at all--just pile the hay I use for mulch thickly around the potato plants--works great, has for years.
Does hilling increase production or just protect the existing potatoes from light and dehydration? Popcornhill's experience--all the potatoes were in the mulch--suggests hilling can actually increase production. This makes sense; tomatoes will root along their stems if given the chancee, and potatoes are a relative. Does anyone know?
Here is a link that might be useful: The Manic Gardener: An Organic Gadening Blog
This is great info but I have an important question.
Can you use just grass clippings mulched up from a lawn mower to mound up your potato plants? I heard you can use straw, so I figured grass was pretty close. But my potato plants that were growing well are starting to die. So, maybe it's not the same.
Underneath the dry grass on top, the grass is moist and moldy as its decomposing. Is OK or is this the cause of their dwindling? Any thoughts out there? Thanks.