I like to grow and eat potatoes, the problem is they can easily take over a plot of land and more than likely you will be growing potatoes in the same spot for a few years (not very good crop rotation) when one or two stray spuds don’t get harvested and a plant pops up the next year.
One great solution to this problem is a potato tower, this is a structure that keeps your potato plant and potatoes contained to an upright structure which can consist of many materials.
I decided to go with the classic approach and build mine out of wood. I took four pieces of 1”X1” pine and cut to approximately 2.5 foot lengths. Side note: Just for the record I did not use tape measure for the construction of this potato tower. I then took two lengths of untreated/unstained cedar fencing and cut them in equal pieces.
Added a couple of screws to attach the cedar to the pine and kept doing this until I had a really cool upside down table without a top. Now you could pull out a level/square and pretty confident this will not be plum or true in any way…but it really doesn’t matter just holding some dirt and potatoes.
As for the location I found this great spot which grows weeds very well and not much of anything else.
After some minimal weeding and an laying down a layer of weed blocking fabric I plopped down my structure and added a few inches of rich compost.
To give the potatoes a head start I added a couple cups of bone meal, mixed well and added nine potatoes and topped with a few more inches of compost.
Now here is where the tower part comes from, as the potatoes greenery grows more than 3 inches above the surface you screw in some more cedar fencing to increase the height nearly cover with compost and repeat until you are tire of doing this. The theory is that your plants will grow potatoes over this entire height giving you many pounds of potatoes.
Important Tip: Any early setting variety of potato will produce all its potatoes at once so you will only get potatoes on the bottom six inches or so of your potato tower. So this technique only makes sense for later setting potatoes, here are a few to consider:
- Gourmet Fingerling Potato
- All Blue Potato
- Red Pontiac Potato
- Russet Potato
- German Butterball Golden Potato
UPDATE #1 (4/1/2012): Based on many of the comments on the mixed results of the success rate of this technique, I have decided to do a side by side N=1 experiment to see how my yields compare with 18 inches of soil versus 12 inches of soil using the same size and construction of a potato tower.