The potatoes stay in the leaves but need to be deep enough that the potatoes don’t get sunburned as the pile shrinks from decomposition. I am growing a few in large pots this year with whole leaves because I ran out of space. I put a couple of inches of old mostly decomposed wood chips in the bottom of the pots and filled the pot with leaves. The potatoes are growing well but the real test will be when I harvest. I am also growing sweet potatoes in a bed filled with leaves this year to see if that works.
I looked around a bit more and found a bed with 2 well spaced small black currants and a lot of weeds growing in the middle.
Before getting started, I weed-wacked the area and it now has 1 Black Currant (oops). I then laid out some of my extra seed potatoes (mostly Amarosa, with one Red Gold).
And added 2/3 of a bag of leaves on top. As this decays down, I can add the rest of the bag. And the town puts out leaf compost that I could add as well if needed.
This area isn’t 100% sun, but I know this part of the yard can grow potatoes pretty well. Just 10’ away is an existing potato bed.
I do roughly the same thing with straw. About the time the potatoes flower, you have to pile up more straw to keep the developing tubers covered. Same thing as hilling up dirt over them, if you grow them in dirt.
I tried using straw several years ago but I just couldn’t make it work. The plants grew but the potato harvest was small (and in those years July was very wet).
I have very much the wrong soil for potatoes. I do gather lots of leaves in the fall to till into the garden beds and make the thickest bed where I plan to put the potatoes. But there aren’t enough.
Around here, some town/city actually require people to bag their leaves for pickup. My town actually goes around with a big vacuum, so all we need to do is get leaves to the edge of the street. I don’t have many myself anyway, as I got rid of all the non-fruiting trees (except one pine that my male kiwi uses as a trellis).
But in the neighboring towns, people put out those big thick brown paper bags of leaves from Lowes. People have given me strange looks when I collect their leaves, but they seemed to get it when I said it was for my garden. Nobody complained about theft
The biggest worry I’ve had (which hasn’t happened AFAIK) is rodents using them as an overwintering home.
I don’t have many leaves of my own either since I’m surrounded by soybean and corn fields and the leaves from my shade trees just blow away. So, I am lucky to have my neighbors give me their leaves. I used to get those bags from my sister’s neighborhood since she lives in a more populated area with many shade or ornamental trees. I have had critters chew into stored bags. Maybe looking for acorns.
I saw this Youtube video about using hay, seems like a really good option if you have a pasture of your own or there are hay farmers in the area who end up with rotted bails.
Thanks. Maybe I’ll try this with a couple of bales next year. Seems like I always have a couple of old hay bales around.
Rotted is good, so the seeds won’t sprout