Earthing Up Potatoes (Hilling)
Earthing up of potatoes (called hilling in the US) is the process of piling extra soil around the developing shoots and leaves of a growing potato plant.
Earthing up is done for 3 reasons:
1. Before the frosts end, some earthing up around small developing leaves can stop them being burned by frost and destroying or stunting the plant
2. Once the plant is established and growing larger, piling additional soil around the plant effectively makes the soil level higher and buries more parts of the stem underground. New shoots often develop off this now buried stem, which can lead therefore to extra potatoes per plant.
3. Topsoil has a tendency to get gradually blown or washed away, and potatoes can stick up out of the ground and go green, making those parts inedible.
The aim is to leave enough green leaves showing for the plant to take in sunlight and grow, but bury a lot of the stem to encourage new shoots.
Here is a good video from Trevor's Kitchen Garden showing you how to earth up potatoes being grown in a potato bag:
If you're planting in a bed, here's a simple explanation from Hawthorn Gardens garden centre plus a great tip to use an old pot to be able to earth up the potato plant in a mixed bed without having to earth up all the other crops.
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