Does it ever strike you that we gardeners actually feel better for working too hard? I put it down to some deep-seated Protestant Work Ethic. If it's not hard work, we don't think we deserve any reward.
I'm gradually working my way down the potato bed, harvesting no-dig Sarpo Mira as required. I've grown no-dig potatoes in the past but, even then, it was more labour-intensive than necessary. I buried them under 6 inches of straw - straw that needs covering with grass clippings to keep it from blowing away and that needs a fair amount of watering in dry weather. You can leave the straw in place to rot down after the harvest, but it was pretty messy.
This year I've been thinking of creating a bed for espalliered fruit, but haven't fancied clearing the turf. So, inspired by Naomi Schillinger's no-dig experiment last year, I clipped the grass short, piled on compost, nestled potatoes into it, covered them with more (the whole compost layer is about 5 inches deep) and left them to it.
No, I didn't earth up. No, I haven't found any green potatoes. No, there's no slug damage.
I suspect that the yield isn't as great as it would have been if they'd been buried 6 inches deep, but it's possibly not that different. When I grew them under straw and made a comparison, the difference in yield was very small. The huge pluses are that I haven't had to dig (for which my back thanks me) and it takes moments to pull up a plant and sift through the compost for the potatoes.
And, with future plans in mind, I haven't had to clear the grass. So, I'm wondering: when potatoes are described as a great crop for clearing the ground, do you think that has always referred to the digging involved, and the leaf canopy restricting weed growth? Or have we forgotten how easy it is just to throw on compost and get a harvest while we wait?