Lazy bed is a bit of a misnomer with regard to the growing of potatoes because it is hard work. The lazy part refers to the planting of seed potatoes on the bare unprepared ground. No need to dig and make drills beforehand. Lazy beds were used extensively in the west of Ireland where the soil was poor and little else could be grown. If you have no experience of gardening then the lazy bed is a great way to make a start on developing your expertise. You don’t need to have green fingers to transform a grassy lawn into a lazy bed in a matter of a few hours.
Starting the potato lazy bed
There is very little to do before you start a lazy bed. Quite simply you select a patch of grass where you want the bed to be located. Mid March is the traditional time to plant potatoes (known as first earlies). The potato bed site will be about 30 inches (75cm) wide and as long as you wish it to be. String can be used to give you a straight line for your bed but an experienced maker of the lazy bed will work away without any markers. If you lazy bedding for the first time then the string will be helpful as you can mark off a long strip of lawn to show the edge of the potato bed. This will prevent the bed altering in width as you work the bed. Lightly manure (fertilizer) the top of the grass where you want the potatoes to grow. You can use rotted material from the compost bin for this.
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Placing the lazy bed potatoes
The strip will be about 18 inches wide and once the manure is in place, you toss the seed potatoes on top of the ground. Scatter the potatoes in a manner that prevents them becoming bunched by dropping them along the bed in twos or threes at about 10 inches apart. The pattern of the seed potatoes does not have to be uniform as it is after all a lazy bed.
Freshly dug potato lazy bed
Digging the potato lazy bed
The key to digging the lazy bed is a sharp spade. Firstly, you cut a rectangle on each outside side of the bed but leaving one edge uncut nearest the bed. Do not remove the sod from the soil. Secondly, flip the rectangle of soil over and on top of the potatoes. The principal is that of digging a trench on both sides of the bed and folding the trench soil over on top of the waiting potatoes. The turned sods must not be cut on the sides nearest the bed and the grass here is similar to a hinge, resulting in the potato being covered by grass as well as having grass underneath it. Progress your way down the entire length of the bed on both sides with each of the sods touching each other at the center of the bed, a bit like the apex of a roof. Gaps in the ‘roof’ are filled by more loose soil from the trenches to ensure that the seed potatoes are covered and that no light penetrates the drill.
Important tips for making lazy beds
1 Cut down one full side of the bed at a time rather than move from side to side. This helps you to cut a straight bed.
2 Do not cut or break the hinged side of each flap or rectangular sod. The hinge stops the weeds growing.
3 The hinged or flipped sod will quickly break down (into soil) and nourish the new potatoes.
4 A sharp spade is vital to the process. Sharpen your spade before you begin to dig the bed.
5 The term lazy-bed has nothing to do with being lazy. Growing potatoes is very hard work.
6 Bear in mind the bed positioning, in terms of future garden planning as this bed might be a flower bed or shrub border in years to come.
If you do not have enough space for the lazy bed then you might consider growing potatoes in barrels, trashcans, pots or even inside strong bags.
Flourishing potato lazy bed
Potato lazy bed
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