Drip irrigation for potatoes

With drought restriction still in effect from last summer, I have to think about installing drip irrigation in my beds - it is only water use that is not restricted for gardeners except watering can. I figured out that I don’t know what part of potato needs water the most. I usually plant potatoes in trench slightly covered with soil, then fill it in as they grow and continue to add straw to up to 1.5’ above soil level. So I have two choices with irrigation:I can place the dripping line above the tubers I planted and covered with soil, or I can move the dripping line every time I “hill” to place it above the hill. First way will provides more water to the roots, second - for the shoots the plant makes in the hills where eventually grow new tubers. Any idea which way is correct?

I think any way will be fine. Do what is more convenient to you. I would put irrigation on the bottom and do not move it the whole summer.


It depends somewhat on the type of drip line you are using. Drip tape is fairly fragile and does not take well to being moved around too much. The spongy rubber hose and hard plastic lines will take more moving, but that is more work. Although you could roll up and re-position any of them a few times.

Potatoes form above the level where you planted the “seed” so depending on how much you hill, and how many potatoes you normally get in the hilled dirt, it may be worth moving the drip lines up with the hilling or not. In my location, our season is too short to get much potato development in the dirt or mulch which is piled up on the potatoes, it mostly just serves to keep the upper tubers from greening. So I typically do not move the drip lines, just mulch above them.

In garden beds I use something like soaker hoses (except I drill holes in them so they work better with the pressure from my rainbarrels). The best location for these types of irrigation is above the ground (i.e. never buried) and under mulch (to extend the life expectancy of the hose material). I do ‘no dig’ gardening and leave the hose lines under mulch year 'round. Like today, I moved the mulch away, moved the hose out of the way, dug a small hole, stuck my tomatoe/ pepper plant in, filled the hole, replaced the hose, replaced the mulch, done. With potatoes I’d leave the hose above the hole that you fill in. My potatoes are in large landscape pots (vole-proof) with a modified drip-type irrigation where I run lines to each pot.

For me, some potatoes(Red Pontiac) are doing very well producing more and more tubers as you hill or mulch. This is why I kind of unsure, if soaking hose I am going to use will be too deep at the middle of the season when it will be about 1.5/2’ deep down from the top. From other point, to get the roots wet well I may need run the line on top for too long and it will soak the tuber layer too much. I may need to run one line above the originally planted tubers and another one on top.

Do you happen to have description/pictures for your pot irrigation? This year I am going to plant additional potatoes for seeds in sterile mix in containers. I decided to use 20 gallon self-watering plastic pots, though I had to modify it to provide drainage holes right on the self-watering insert level, otherwise when weather is rainy the roots will stay in water. I also going to add a pipe going to the bottom to pour water in for watering from the bottom, not from the top. But I am not sure if set up will work.

What I used was pretty standard irrigation stuff for trees, I guess. There is a pipe that looks like a hose and that connects to your hose (I use snap-on hose connections). At intervals that suit your water distribution needs you punch a hole in that pipe and connect a smaller spaghetti looking tube that will reach where you want water to go.
I adapted this for my potatoes from another irrigation location that I no longer use.

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