Growing Potatoes

So this year I decided to plant potatoes. I saw posts and pictures on the internet about the idea of a potato tower. Basically, you plant potatoes in something that allows you to cover over new growth with more dirt, in order to trick the potato into growing more roots and making more potatoes. The lofty goal is to get an entire several-foot tall tower of potatoes from just a few plants, saving space. This sounded like a fun idea to me. “They” even claim that as the plant grows, you can harvest potatoes in the bottom of the bin. And everyone knows how much I like plants that you harvest slowly over time: lettuce, kale, mizuna, celery, herbs, etc…
Sweet potato bin

So, first my husband engineered me a very complicated and wonderful contraption. It has 4 posts that he pre-drilled with holes every whatever inches so that as the plants grow, you can add a new board. This is great because I’m not blocking their light at all with walls around them. On the other hand, it took an afternoon to measure and drill all these crazy little holes, and we still haven’t cut more boards to grow it any taller. Plus, I got had to cover it in chicken wire and plant new plants because The Thing That Eats All My Crops ate most of the leaves off the plants that were there before. (Of course, the plants weren’t that happy anyway, because I had to delay planting them too long…)

 

We had planned to make a second one of those for the German butterball potatoes, but I needed something faster. So I took one of the compost bins the county gave us last year and filled the bottom with dirt and compost and planted to potatoes. The plus side is it took only about 30 minutes (it would be faster if you’re strong enough to actually lift a bag of dirt…) and it seems pretty well guarded against animals. The cons are that the walls are blocking the potatoes from getting all the light, and the holes are going to leak dirt.

I tried to remedy the dirt leaking problem by lining the walls with more compost and grass. It worked some, but we’ll see if it can handle a big downpour or not. But the potatoes were getting old and I was tired of carpentry, so at least this got them planted.

This shows you how easily potatoes grow. I had a bag of potatoes that got lost in the pantry while we were out of town for a week, so I dumped it out into the compost pile. Well, they decided to just go ahead and grow — I guess my compost is tasty.

I really did nothing other than throw potatoes into compost. That’s it.

And the stupid critter (groundhog? rabbit?) already nibbled on it. I wonder how toxic potato leaves really are….

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