Last fall I came across this idea for a way to grow lots of potatoes in a very small space. This year I’m trying it in my yard. I made a couple of improvements on Stefan’s design, after eavesdropping (so to speak) on a conversation on his Facebook page. Without further ado, here’s how I did it:
1. Bend some steel fencing into a 36-inch diameter circle and fasten. Ours is nearly 5 ft. tall, but it does NOT need to be… 3-4 feet tall would be plenty.
2. Make a nest of straw in the bottom, and fill it with a 50-50 mixture of compost and old leaves. Nestle 5-7 seed potatoes, with eyes pointing to the outside, all the way around the circle.
3. Get a soaker hose in there, too. Continue layering up: straw, compost/leaves, seed potatoes, soaker hose, repeat until you run out of seed potatoes. Put a final topping of compost and straw on top, and you’re done. Here’s another view:
Here’s the completed potato tower:
It needs to be in a sunny location. Stefan of Growing Lots claims that people have gotten upwards of 25 lbs of potatoes from 5 lbs of seed potatoes in towers like these. The two main changes that we made from his design are putting in the layers of straw, adding the dry leaves, and the soaker hose. He pointed out that it’s really difficult to water the lowest layers, without it.
And here’s what it looked like about 3 weeks later (about a week ago). The plants are even bigger now. There aren’t quite as many sticking out of the bottom as I would have thought, but it seems like the majority of the seed potatoes sprouted. Now we wait!