gardening Irish Potato Famine Ruth Stout

Tossing Taters

Everyone gets to be Irish for one day out of the year on St. Patrick’s Day (and I’m a day late with this post). I reckon my family has some green bloodlines, that’s what I’m told anyway (I’ve never traced my family’s lineage nor had much interest in doing so). The Irish Potato Famine always comes to mind around this time of year. There’s lots of information available about how potato blight and a very poor economy led to the tragedy of hunger and starvation and eventual death of almost one million people.

If the ground is dry enough, I try to have my potatoes planted sometime around mid-March. But more often than not, it’s still too wet then (as it is now after all of February’s snow has finally melted). I’ve been seriously considering the Ruth Stout method of planting potatoes; she’d use potatoes that she saved from the previous season as seed, toss a few out on top of some good dirt, and then mulch pretty heavy with straw. If we get several more days of sunshine I think the dirt will dry out enough for me to start tossing some taters.

Here’s a three part YouTube video series about Ruth Stout’s Garden, it’s quite interesting.

You can buy a used copy of her book “Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy, and the Indolent” in paperback on Amazon for around $50. I’m probably goin to order it, or ask for it for my birthday in May.


By TC Conner

Pro hobbyist photographer, drone enthusiast, musician, husband and father.

12 replies on “Tossing Taters”

Fascinating woman. Not many people garden outside the box. They read books and attended seminars and never question the ‘rules’. It took a long time but Ruth’s ideas are finally being used by more gardeners.

We threw a few old potatoes into our compost pile and they took it upon themselves to grow! I’m sure her method works, and I sure like the ‘gardening for busy people’ idea. 😉

Ms. Susie, I usually plant potatoes traditionally, in rows. This year I’ll forgo that method for the “tossing taters” method Ms. Stout used. I’ve got plenty of straw.

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