Last fall I pinned a tutorial on how to make your own potato tower (a tower to grow potatoes in not a tower made of potatoes – just in case you were wondering) so I decided to make a couple this spring.
Luckily the site was still up when I started mine but since then the hosting site has said goodbye so I can’t link to the original tutorial (which was at urbanfarmerseward.posterous.com). But it’s such a great idea it needs to be shared.
What’s really wonderful about this idea is that it works for small spaces so if you have a really tiny yard you can still get roughly 25lb of potatoes from just 2 sq ft of land. Not bad!
What you need:
- 20 gauge chicken wire (mine was 4 ft tall)
- Straw (not hay- If you are as clueless as I was about the difference take a look here)
- Seed potatoes
- Soil and/or compost (no manure)
What you do:
Using wire cutters cut the chicken wire into 5 ft lengths (for a tower that will be just over 1.5 ft in diameter). Roll the chicken wire into a tube and bend the cut wire on one side to secure it to the other side.
Choose a sunny spot to place your towers. Lay straw down on the ground and up the inside of the wire tower. Continue a thin layer of straw around the inside of the tower about a foot high. Fill with soil.
Lay your seed potatoes, eyes pointing out, around the outside edge of the tower (like the numbers on a clock). Leave 4-6 inches in between the potatoes.
Layer more straw and soil a foot high and repeat a layer of potatoes. You should be able to make 3-4 layers (each a foot apart).
For the top: you can finish with a layer of potatoes to grow out the top or you can add a companion plant. One of my towers is just potatoes (because they started growing out the top before I could put flowers in) and the other I’ve planted calendula in the top. I’ve read that calendula and marigolds can help keep potato pest away. This is the first year I’ve grown potatoes so I don’t know how well it works yet. We’ll see!
Be sure to keep the towers watered. A good soaking once a week should be fine.
Harvesting: Presumably you can just lay a tarp out and push the tower over to get all the potatoes when they are ready in the fall. I’ll update when I do this so you know how it goes. (update: click here to see the harvest)
Anyone have organic potato pest control ideas?