Skip to Content

Do You Hill Potatoes? (Read This First!)

Potatoes are one of the most famous vegetables around the world. That is why potatoes are in demand and need regular production. However, hilling potatoes can be part of the growing process. 

Today, we are going to discuss the process of hilling potatoes and find out several benefits of hilling potatoes. 

Do you hill potatoes?

Hilling potato plants is not compulsory. However, hilling potato plants can be a helpful process. It can ensure protection against sun, frost, and weed. Technically, the hilling process can increase the production of potato plants. Hilling the potatoes three times every season is enough.

Let’s discuss in detail about the benefits of hilling potatoes and see what happens if you don’t hill potatoes. 

Infestation of weeds:

Hilling potatoes give the potatoes a better chance of survival. Because the process of hilling potatoes keeps the weeds in check. This means that the excessive amount of weeds in the soil do not hamper the nutrient and water intake of potatoes. 

Heap of soil does not only create problems with the existing weeds, it also prevents the birth of new weeds. Potatoes can reach their optimum growth in the absence of weeds. 

Weeds do not bring anything valuable to the table and hence hilling potatoes gets rid of them. 

Unstable potato plants:

If you do not hill the potatoes, then they can become unstable due to lack of a strong structure. The heap of soil provides additional support to the large potato plants. The potato plants benefit a lot from the hilling process. 

The extra support provided by heaps of soil can really help the growth of potato plants. It gives the potato plants an opportunity to become tall in appearance. 

Infestation of frost:

Frost can hamper the growth of your potato plants. It is believed by experts that a heap of soil on top of the potato plants can prevent the infestation of frost in cold conditions. 

Potato plants that are exposed to frost can not survive which cuts down the production of potatoes. So hilling potatoes will ensure protection against the dangerous impact of frost. 

Abundance of green potatoes:

If potato plants are continuously exposed to sun, then the potatoes can turn into green. Green potatoes possess many unhealthy components in them for a human being. You do not want to end up with unhealthy and green potatoes during the harvest season. 

Hilling potatoes will mean that those potatoes are not turning into unhealthy ones due to the influence of the sun. That is why experts recommend hilling potatoes for increasing harvest. 

About hilling potatoes:

There are some basic things that one needs to know about hilling potatoes. Let’s discuss in detail about some of them.

What to use to hill:

Soil is not the only thing that you can use to hill potatoes. There are lots of other options available that can be applied. For example, you can try to use straws to hill potatoes. 

If potatoes are properly covered using straws, then the straws can give them protection from sun and shortage of water. 

Additionally, one can also use grass clippings free from pesticides to hill potatoes. Hay can also be applied to cover potatoes. But when it comes to selecting the best material to hill potatoes, compost takes the cake. 

Because it is able to provide protection to the potatoes and enhance the quality of the soil at the same time. Peat moss can be another option when it comes to hilling potatoes. 

When to start and stop hilling:

There are many things you need to consider when it comes to selecting the time of hilling potatoes. The first thing you need to consider is the height of your potato plants. 

If there are more than half feet of the plant hanging outside the soil, then the time for hilling the plants has arrived. You will need to keep hilling your plant for every eight inches it gains from then on.

You can also start hilling your potato plants as soon as weeds start showing up near the plants. Appearance of frost can be another indication of hilling time. You will have to stop hilling the potato plants after the hilling has reached the height of about eight inches.

Yellow potatoes will also indicate that the time for hilling them is over. 

So it can be said that you can not hill potatoes after they flower. You can start hilling them after the plants reach a certain height and not before that.

How many times to hill:

It is believed by gardening experts that you do not need to hill your potato plants more than three times every season. The reason behind this is that the heap of soil can be enough to cover the potato plants for the entire season just by hilling them three times. 

One foot of hilling will be adequate for the potato plants. 

How deep to hill:

You do not need to hill too deep to provide protection to the potato plants. You can hill the potato plants three times per season. This means that the hilling will not result in more than one foot deep. In fact, six to eight inches of hilling does the trick in most of the cases. 

How to hill potatoes?

Hilling potatoes might seem like a difficult task if you have no prior experience regarding the matter. However, there are some steps and methods you can take to accomplish the task. Let’s discuss in detail about some of them.

The first hilling:

First of all, you will need to wait for a week after planting the potato plants. The potato plants need to peak out of the soil in order for you to hill them. You will have to measure the height of your potato plants and see if they have become one feet tall. 

Then, you will use a rake to navigate the soil between each row of potato plants.

The soil will have to be put on top of the potato plants using the rake. This step will make sure that all the potato plants are receiving their share of the soil. 

Use your hands:

Rake will not be able to put the soil effortlessly onto all the potato plants. So you will need to go manual here. You will have to get into your potato field and place the heap of soil evenly onto all the potato plants. 

This will also mean that the heap of soil has settled firmly on top of the potato plants. 

Use mulch:

Using mulch can also help the process of hilling the potato plants. Mulch will have to be put firmly on top of the soil. It will provide further protection to the potato plants.

The second hilling:

You will need to use straws for the second hilling procedure. The potato plants need to grow at least one foot more before you start hilling them again. You will be required to put the straws using your hands on top of the soil. 

The straws will then have to be covered with soil to finish the second hilling phase. You will once again have to give the potato plants enough time for the third hilling to take place. 

Can you use these to hill potatoes?

Let’s look at some materials and see if they can be used to hill potatoes.

Straw or hay:

Straw or hay can be used to hill potatoes. Between straw and hay, straw is the better option when it comes to hilling potatoes.

Grass clipping:

Grass clipping can definitely be used to hill potatoes. However, the grass clippings need to be free from insecticides. 

Wood chips:

Wood chips can be used to hill potato plants. But you will need to put some soil on top of the wood chips. 

Leaves:

Leaves also come in handy when it comes to covering potato plants. However, leaves are less effective than other materials. 

Mulch:

Mulch can be used with the soil during the first hilling process. Mulch helps the heap of soil to settle down on the potato plants.

Peat moss:

Peat moss is not a popular material in terms of hilling potatoes. Because it can result in a shortage of water supply for the potato plants. 

Compost:

Compost is one of the best materials for hilling potato plants. The quality of the soil benefits from the usage of compost as a hilling material. It also does not require much effort to mix compost with the soil.

Sand:

Using sand for hilling potato plants does not bring a lot of benefits. So sand should not be used to hill potato plants if there are better options available. 

Final Thoughts

The potato plants need to come out one feet from the soil and only then can one start hilling them. Many materials such as straws, hays, mulch, peat moss, compost, grass clippings, wood chips can be used instead of soil to hill potato plants. Hilling potato plants is key to getting healthy potatoes.