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?
This post is shared at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Fabulously Frugal Thursday
Kristen @ Smithspirations says
I’ve considered trying something like this, but have done the traditional in-ground methods the last two years since we have the room. I did get tired of hoeing up the ground around them, so I finished hilling them by piling up straw to keep them from getting green. I hope your towers are very successful!
Joining you from the linkup at GNOWFGLINS. :)
Thank you! What a good idea to use the hay that way :)
Anne-Marie Bilella says
I have been wanting to try this! Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesday. :)
Leah G says
We have about an 1/8th of an acre planted with all sorts of things potatoes included but I am always looking into other ways to add things in. I have heard of growing in straw before. did you use straw or hay? hay has so much seed in it I would think you’d have a lot of grass competing with the potatoes.
Well, I didn’t know there was a difference :) Now that you’ve mentioned it, and i’ve done some reading, I realize you are right! Straw is what I meant to use (yet I used hay instead). So far Im not having any problems but I suppose I won’t be able to reuse the soil next year. Thanks so much for your insight! I’m going to change hay to straw in the directions :)
Hi! I am here via your link on gnowfglins. I took a community ed gardening class a couple years ago and learned that, apparently, you can plant eggplant near your potatoes to attract the Colorado Potatoe Beetle. The adult beetles are attracted to the eggplant and lay eggs on the underside of the eggplant leaves near the veins (they are easier to see bc of the eggplant’s color). Squish the eggs before they hatch. Tada! I am planting potatoes for the first time this year, so I haven’t had an opportunity to try this.
Interesting! Thanks for sharing :)