How to Hill Potatoes

Potatoes that need to be hilled
Potatoes that need to be hilled

Potatoes are very easy to grow but to really maximize your yield, you should hill your potatoes.

What does that mean? It means gathering dirt up around the base of the plant and creating a hill for the plant to grow out of. The tubers (the bits we eat) only grow underground, so increasing the amount of the plant underground = more changes for the tubers to grow.

Step 1 – Plant potatoes

It should go without saying, but you should be actually growing potatoes before you can hill them.

Step 2 – Starting hilling when potatoes are 6 inches high

Hilling too early isn’t really an issue, but waiting too long can be a pain. The vigorously growing plant can start to fall over.


Step 3 – Create a cage

Creating a cage means that you can create a column of  dirt for the potatoes to grow in. Maybe we should call it ‘columning potatoes’ rather than ‘hilling potatoes’?

Hilled and caged potatoes
Hilled and caged potatoes

Step 4 – Hill the potatoes

Carefully place soil around the base of the potato plant and work up. I have worked with pea straw and haven’t had much success. When the straw gets wet and is in a pile, it can start to rot and get mouldy. Potatoes are prone to infections so keeping anything that could bring mould into play is a priority.

Step 5 – Wait for more growth

The potato plant will keep growing and putting out tubers. This means that you’ll quickly find yourself with a potato plant that will require more hilling about about 2-3 weeks.

Step 6 – Harvest while the plant is alive

Using this method, potatoes at the bottom of the hill are going to reach maturity earlier than those at the top. And while soil is a very good spot to store potatoes, you can also harvest them is you get the urge. Carefully dig in to the base of the hill until you find enough for dinner. You should wait until at least 3months after planting before doing this.

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