Growing Potatoes with Leaf Mulch

Over the last year or so, I have read some Internet articles about using leaf mulch in the garden.  I had heard that leaf mulch would cause my garden’s pH level to get too acidic but wanted to look into it further.  After through research, I determined that this was probably not true, but that even if it was, using lime or wood ash would reverse any pH problems.  So, during last summer, I purchased a lawn sweeper for my mower as I have almost 1 acre of lawn and plenty of oak and maple leaves to pick up (and pick up and pick up . . .).

42-inch Lawn Sweeper
Lawn Sweeper from John Deere’s website. The driver is NOT the Snarky Gardener.

This year I decided to use some of this mulch I collected to cover my potatoes, especially after reading a potato mulching article or two.  You can see by the pictures that my garden is a sea of leaves.  They have been a pain in the butt to move around, especially when they are wet and several feet deep in places.  On the plus side, they will make my potato growing a lot easier than last year.  All I had to do is place the seed potatoes in the mulch eye side up and cover with leaves.  No messy digging or soil involved.  And later, as the potato leaves grow up, I will just pile up the more leaves around/under the stems like I did with dirt last year.

Note on 4/19/2013:  The severe April winds have blown off the leaves at times, exposing some of the potatoes.  I checked one for development and saw roots.  I’m not worried as I do know from experience that they will grow anyways (my compost pile potatoes kept putting out vines).   I’ll just keep covering them back up, though I might add some dirt to make it a non-issue.

Note on 6/15/2013:  Some of the potatoes are several feet high and flowering;  others have just started a little.  I moved 6 “barely starters” to a different part of the garden (where the spinach was) and buried them under dirt, thinking maybe a change of scenery would help.  I replaced these with red seed potatoes purchased at the farmer’s market.  We’ll have to see if it’s the potatoes or the site/mulch.

Potatoes planted 4/5/2013
Potatoes planted under leaf mulch – 4/5/2013
Potatoes sprouting up from leaf mulch – 5/12/2013
Potatoes coming up by my kale – 5/17/2013
Leaf mulched potatoes – 6/15/2013

One thought on “Growing Potatoes with Leaf Mulch”

  1. GREAT POST! I used leaves in my garden in Mississippi from 2009-2012, then I moved. But it works great in my opinion. I never had to do hardly any weeding and the leaves helped keep the soil cool and took less water.

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