I “hilled” the potatoes last week. I probably could have done it two weeks ago, but I just barely got around to it now.
If you can recall, I planted the potatoes as far down as I could initially, and it made the rows of potatoes resemble the dimpled surface of a golf ball like this:
The first small potato plants poking out of the ground a few weeks later:
The photo below shows the “hilling” in process. The plant in the upper right has been “hilled”. It’s hard to take a good picture because the foliage of the plants gets in the way, but hopefully you can get an idea of how this works.
To “hill”, I took all the extra dirt that I had shoved to the side when I first planted them and piled it up around the base of each plant as high as I could. I also took a couple wheelbarrows full of compost and spread that around each plant as well.
The idea behind “hilling” is that the potatoes form around the stem of the plant, and the growing potatoes need to be completely covered in soil, so if you hill up extra dirt around the stem, you will get more potatoes per plant.
Here’s a side shot of the entire bed after done hilling. Can you tell that there is one big trench down the middle now?
Another nice part of hilling the potatoes is that I finally got the soaker hose put down and covered it with soil, so that the plants will really get good watering now.
I also noticed today while I was taking pictures in the garden that flowers are starting to form on a few of the potato plants. Once the flowers bloom, you can supposedly harvest (very gently) a few small “new potatoes”. I haven’t ever done this, because I’m afraid I will kill a plant just to get a couple small potatoes. I have a hard enough time not spearing potatoes when I harvest them in September. I don’t trust myself to blindly search for potatoes in the soil without disturbing the rest of the plant.