Wondering how to grow potatoes? Check out how we are growing potatoes in towers for maximum yield in a small space.
Last year we grew potatoes right in the ground with the Back to Eden method, just to see what would happen with this new method. No hilling, no towers, no nothing... and of course, what that meant was that we also didn't get very many potatoes!
Though we did get a few and it was a fun novelty to eat fresh potatoes, we knew that we needed to drastically change the way we grew them this year if we wanted to actually have enough for more than 2 meals.
How to Grow Potatoes
Hilling potatoes with the Back to Eden method would undoubtedly do well, as evidenced by all of our other plants going completely crazy... but since we have quite a severe fire ant problem, we decided to skip the potato hills and instead opted to grow potatoes in towers this year.
Plus, this had the added benefit of allowing us to grow hundreds of pounds of potatoes in less than 30 square feet! Win!
So, first we had to build the towers! Fortunately, this was a super simple task that took 20 minutes total and cost about $25 for all 5 towers!
How to Build a Potato Tower
Since we have a working homestead (and a barn in which to store supplies) we actually had everything we needed for this project on hand. But if we had bought it specifically for this project, it would have cost around $25 for 5 towers.
Potato Tower Supplies
50' of hardware cloth with small holes (chicken wire) so that the mulch doesn't fall out.
Zip ties or wire to fasten the ends together.
Wire cutters to cut the length.
Cut the fencing in 7 foot lengths. Be sure to cut right on the other side of the cross bar so that you don't have sharp edges sticking out.
Trim any sharp edges that are sticking out on the other ends as shown.
Allow the wire to naturally roll up and over lap the fencing by one section. Secure with zip ties in at least 4 places - 1 on each edge, and two spaced in the middle.
Step 4: (optional)
Clip the zip ties down if you don't want them flapping about. We left ours long as they are very sharp when they are short!
Planting Potatoes in Towers
Once you have you towers built, it's time to start planting!
Layer mulch in the bottom 6 inches of the tower. Depending on the type of fencing used, you may need to line the tower with straw to keep the mulch in...
Add seed potatoes spaced every 4-6 inches around the edges, or in a loose group of 3 in the middle of the area.
Once plants are about 12 inches tall, cover them with mulch (leave 6 inches of plant uncovered at the top). Water each layer well before continuing to the next layer.
Wait for your plants to die back and then tip the tower over to harvest the goods!
Note: With the Back to Eden gardening method (which this is, but in tower form), we found that we didn't have to water our potatoes at all, even in Texas. However, if you're plants appear to be dying before you get close to maturity date (100 day range for potatoes), it won't hurt anything to water the tower a bit... just don't over do it!
How to Preserve Potatoes
If all goes well, you will have 50-75 pounds of potatoes per tower, so you'll need a way to store and preserve all that produce!
If you live in an area where cold storage is an option, you can cure your potatoes and store them in a cold cellar.
How To Cure Potatoes for Storage
First, clean your potatoes! Brush off any soil and mulch and pick out any damaged potatoes for first use (don't store those).
Next, cure the potatoes for 10 days in a dark, well-ventilated area with temperatures around 60-70° and high humidity. Grab a humidifier if you need to in order to reach humidity levels of 85-95%.
Once cured, store potatoes in a dark cold room with decent humidity, no colder than 45°.
Be sure you are ready for the harvest when it comes with these 5 essential things to know before you harvest!
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