How to grow potatoes with a potato tower

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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.

Recycled Tires

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Fencing

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Wood

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.

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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.

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As for the location I found this great spot which grows weeds very well and not much of anything else.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Volunteer potatoes

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Well I wasn’t planning on growing potatoes this year but looks like I have a couple of volunteers from last year.  This could turn out to be a fortunately accident since they are currently growing under my onions and garlic.  If they happen to stay low enough might actually get two decent crops in the same square footage.

Any predictions?

Getting kids to eat vegetables from the garden

Potatoes

One of the original ideas when starting my first garden was a way to hopefully to get my kids to actually eat some vegetables if they helped growing. Other than a couple bites of carrots this has not been very successful until recently. I was able to convince my four year old to actually eat some potatoes from the garden…well okay potatoes are not technically scientifically classified as a vegetable, sure I had to slice them up coat them with oil and salt to get her to eat them. Guess it doesn’t really matter since we had fun digging up the potatoes and preparing the fries.

Fries

Baked French Fries

  • 2-3 large potatoes
  • Vegetable spray
  • 1 tsp salt

Description: Preheat oven to 450F. Peal potatoes and slice to desired thickness. Soak in water with 1/2 tsp salt for 10 minutes. Strain out water and pat potatoes dry on paper towels. Spray cookie sheet with vegetable spray and then lay out potatoes on single layer and spray with another coat of vegetable spray. Sprinkle remaining salt on top of fries. Cook until fries are golden brown (about 10-15 minutes) flip them over and cook until the other side is golden.

Blog for the not so beautiful things out there

I see many blogs showing pictures of pretty flowers and cute little animals, when I was going on a nature hike today with my youngest daughter I came across some things that were interesting but not exactly beautiful which deserved some recognition.

If I saw this guy in my garden I probably wouldn’t be an inclined to stop and take his picture.

Uh, just a fly on a leaf…

Well potatoes are not that pretty so guess I wouldn’t expect the flowers to look much better

Harvesting seeds from the grocery store – Update



I definitely can’t complain about the current results of the garlic and potatoes I planted from my original post Harvesting seeds from the grocery store Every clove of garlic I planted has come up and seems to compliment the onions well and is supposed to keep the slugs away which I can always use help on. The potatoes have finished developing above ground just hope my soil is not too nitrogen rich and they keep growing foliage and forget to complete work below ground making some actual potatoes.

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