Potato towers.

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Viewed a gardening video the other day and the next day my neighbor told me of a second method for growing a lot of potatoes in a very small area.

The video said to plant a potato in the ground and when it started to grow, put a tire around it and keep filling the tire with dirt to keep the plant growing upwards. Add a new tire each time the one below was full. The video man said that in one such tower, he got seventy two potatoes from the single plant. When you're ready to harvest, just knock it down and pick up the potatoes.

The neighbors version is to create a 3 ft diameter tower using chicken wire. Fill it with layers of earth alternated with straw. At about four points around the circumference, and at each level, you stick a seed potato. The end results is that many plants are going at once, from top to bottom, through the chicken wire. Again harvesting is simply a case of knocking it down to collect a bushel of potatoes.


-- Floyd Baker (fbaker@wzrd.com), March 21, 1999


These methods work extremely well and you did a good job describing them. It is an excellent way to maximize potatoe harvest amounts and space. Good addition to the food discussions going on tonight (lots of them)

Mr. K

-- Mr. Kennedy (up@night.here), March 21, 1999.

Can't resist a good gardening thread...I keep a cool compost pile, old leaves and grass clippings etc. that are a few years old and no longer cooking. I plant potatoes there. The beauty is that the potato skins are thin and don't need much washing. Not good for storage potatoes as you want those skins heavier to stand up to storage but excellent for "new" poatoes. I just fish around carefully in the pile for the "new" potatoes with out pulling up the plant prematurely.

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), March 21, 1999.


We've been looking at planting potatoes, and heard we could expect aproximately a 10-12x return (1 kilogram planted = 10-12 kilogram yield)

This sounds like a 30-40x return. Is my calculation correct?

Jolly likes French Fries

-- Jollyprez (jolly@prez.com), March 21, 1999.

Wow, this sounds great! Especially when, after seeing the name of this thread, I expected something related to Richard Dreyfuss in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

-- Don (whytocay@hotmail.com), March 21, 1999.

As for the potato yield, your mileage may vary depending upon the length of the growing season, the type of potato planted, location of the tower etc. I think this method may be particularly beneficial for folks with medium to long but cooler growing seasons as this is essentially a raised bed and black (solar warmth collector) to boot. I am wondering about the solar gain in a very hot climate of that black tower. Not that I have to worry about that...

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), March 21, 1999.

Most folks don't grow potatoes if they have limited space. It's not worth the trouble for small yield compared to space. With this type method of towering, you can get a good bumper crop, say about 55 to 60 pound average out of about 9 SQ FT of tower space (3 ft' dia. tower).

Just plant seed potatoes in the bottom, and as they grow, layer compost/soil and straw.

Mr. K
***thinking about the "Small Fry" french frier****

-- Mr. Kennedy (eat@Joes.diner), March 21, 1999.

Don - hilarious!

-- laughing to the bank (12345,etc@qwerty.com), March 21, 1999.

Thanks all for the excellent information. It's printed!

-- Watchful (seethesea@msn.com), March 21, 1999.

This is a great sounding method. For those of you who liked it buy the book "Square foot Gardening." The whole garden concept is similar. Excellent for small area gardening.

-- Moore Dinty moore (not@thistime.com), March 21, 1999.

Those who might be worried about toxic substanves in tires or who are not handy enough to cut and bend wire might be interested in this cut and paste from my favorite gardening catalogue, Gardeners Supply. Less expensive, non-gourmet potatoes are available, of course.


Most gardeners would like to grow their own potatoes, but just don't have enough space to produce a worthwhile crop. Our space-and-labor-saving Potato Bin lets you grow a bumper crop in just a few square feet. Plant the seed potatoes in the bottom, and as the plants start to grow, add layers of straw and soil. The potatoes grow more abundantly with less disease, and you don't have to dig them up at harvest time - just unclip the side of the bin and watch your spuds tumble out. The recycled polyethylene bin adjusts from 1' to 3' in diameter to suit your garden space.

We've chosen three varieties of seed potatoes that are easy to grow and simply delicious. Yukon Gold is the most popular European-style yellow potato, renowned for its outstanding flavor. All-Blue is a delightful novelty with stunning, deep blue skin and flesh. Great flavor and moist texture for baking, boiling and colorful salads. Russian Banana is a fingerling heirloom potato with yellow flesh and exquisite flavor. Enjoy them baked, boiled, or in salads. All are organically raised in Maine. Shipping begins 3/15/99 according to planting zone.

Yukon Gold Potatoes, 2-1/2 lb bag, #30-681, $14.95

All-Blue Potatoes, 2-1/2 lb bag, #30-682, $14.95

Russian Banana Potatoes, 1 lb bag, #30-683, $14.95

Potato Bin, #02-194A, $17.95

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), March 21, 1999.

You mean I gotta buy special, expensive potatos to plant? Are ALL of the fruits and veggies you buy at the grocery store sterile?


If I were to buy some chickens or rabbits, would I have to pay extra for ones that haven't been spayed or neutered?

-- y2kbiker (y2kbiker@bellatlantic.net), March 21, 1999.

Biker....The reason you are supposed to buy certified seed potatoes is that they are guaranteed to be disease free. that is the Offical Party Line. However, I have trouble with the potato companies because they never ship soon enough for me to plant...I'm in CA and it heats up here by May..usually...and it did seem a bit pricey... So what I have done, and I hope it is not a really big mistake, is I get potatoes from Costco. I think Costco must store their potatoes in cold storage, because they always sprout before I am thru the bag. So this year I am planting them!

I want to thank the person who took the time to start this post...as we have really heavy clay soil and I've been wondering just how I was going to do the potato planting.

New potatoes are formed BETWEEN the seed potato and the top of the vine. Not under the seed potato. Think of it as an underground tomato...the potatoes come the same way. So when you are organizing your planting system, leave room for the potatoes to grow.

The other thing about the potato is that it offers the greatest amount of proteing in the smallest available space. It is actually a very very good choice for a gardener with limited space.

Thanks again. Mary

-- Mary (CAgdma@home.com), March 21, 1999.

thanks Mary.

I always figured that potatos would be the easiest thing to grow cause they insist on sprouting even when I don't want 'em to, even in the fridge.

Is there any way to keep them from sprouting? If there is, I'm gonna buy a whole lot of them next fall. My great grandparents all came over from Ireland and if they could live mostly on spuds so can I....

-- y2kbiker (y2kbiker@bellatlantic.net), March 22, 1999.

You certainly don't need to buy special potatoes to plant. Most stores's potatoes are sprayed with chemicals that inhibit sprouting, but organic potatoes are not sprayed, as far as I know.

Get some good potatoes from a organic supplier that suit you, and cut them up. Make sure there is an eye in each chunk. You can typically get 4-6 chunks from a med-large potato. You want a decent sized chunk with each eye, so as to give it sufficient "food" to grow with.

I had been planning to make 2x2' wooden boxes, with removeable 6" layers, but that chicken wire idea would be MUCH easier to deal with. Hmm...

I'm setting up a garden based upon the squarefoot method, with some modifications, and it looks to be a real winner in terms of productivity, and space used. Less space used=less weeding and less watering.

-- Bill (billclo@hotmail.com), March 22, 1999.

Actually my compost pile is in hardware "cloth" ring about three feet high and four feet across in diameter. I simply cut the wires free on one end and bend them around the closed squares to connect it all together. Hardware cloth is large wire fence type mesh (about 2"x4" rectangles), it's easy to work with if you have wire cutters and it is stronger and better looking than chicken wire but a little harder to handle. As for seed potatoes, we used to simply cut up all of our year end potatoes into large chunks with each chunk having at least one eye, normally two. We would then let them "heal over" for a couple of days or so in a warm dry spot usually on old newspapers right before planting. As someone mentioned, store potatoes sometimes are sprayed with a growth inhibitor but if they are sprouting, they are probably okay. Good luck folks.

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), March 22, 1999.

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