mashua, oca, and ulloco would also survive this process, again ignoring for the time the general condemnation of the practice. Cheers! If you go to YouTube you will find many videos about potato towers. I’ve updated the p[ost to make mine clearer. Potato roots from a potato tower showing no roots or rhizomes along the buried stems, photo by Dan Rogers. This depends largely on your climate, but I suspect that most people would find growing in wire cages difficult. Hi Jami, Good luck with your voles. The most notable of these is a potato tower patent from 1976, from which I lifted the image above. Reply. I find that a tower requires lots of watering, because the leaves suck the tower dry pretty quickly, though this wouldn’t happen with a solid-wall tower. The roots are sometimes formed deep in the soil in order to achieve the maximum level of protection from the elements. The purpose of hilling is not to stimulate production of tubers, but to protect the tubers from the environment. There is more than one patent for potato towers and hundreds of articles, both in print and on-line. At least now, I know what NOT to do should I change my mind! :(. Assuming that they planted one tuber per square foot, that would be a yield of 6.25 pounds. As far as I’m concerned, if potato towers do not give you a higher yield, they don’t work. What would happen if I built a tower that was shaped like a ‘dunse cap’. Home » Home » Gardening » Potato Towers, Bins and Containers. If you take that away, then a tower is just a planter and subject to all the pluses and minuses of growing potatoes in containers, which are specific to climate. As they grow remove leaves and place another tire around the stem. “Thank you” isn’t enough but will have to suffice for now! When night time temperatures exceed 68F (20C), tuber growth is reduced, and it stops above 84F (29C).”. Towers are not a new idea, but they have only become popular in recent years. I only had to purchase 1-10 foot roll of hardware mesh/cloth and seed potatoes… Hi Bill, We’ve completed the research and guess what: the towers didn’t work in our controlled study! But the fact is, other than not taking up precious space in the garden, they don’t have a lot of advantages. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Indeterminate potatoes do not produce stolons in a different way than determinate potatoes do. Optimal tuber set takes place with a night temperature of around 55F (13C). Square Box Vertical Potato Tower – This is another version of this method! ;) ). Add extra tires or pieces of wood to hold the soil around the plant. The most important part is placing the tower in full sun. Most commercial potatoes also do not set tubers on runners. I am very curious to see the results. We also have late-season varieties which grow over a much longer season. Late season tubers are optimal, as they send out rhizomes and form tubers later which work best for the layered effect of a potato tower. Potato towers don’t work. Natural Weed Killers – Do Organic Herbicides Work? That works very nicely. You need late season to keep growing and producing potatoes. It is specifically the claim that towers are able to produce greater yields due to the production of more layers of tubers that is wrong. I study how well vines grow tubers vertically (almost 10 years now)! At the end of the season, the towers produced slightly more per sq ft footprint. The Low Technology Institute is studying several different potato growing methods this year, including towers. The water and carbohydrates that are stored in the roots can be used to sustain the plant through difficult conditions or to allow the plant to survive the winter when the aerial part of the plant is killed by frost or drought. The premise behind this technique is that potatoes produce tubers all along the stem. Just because you make tall towers does not mean that the plant starts making potatoes higher up the stem, and this is exactly what people are reporting when they dismantle their towers. It all starts with seed potatoes which could be small potatoes, or larger ones that have been cut into smaller pieces. …oops, a major drought this summer, and more-immediately-edible Lambsquarters took over the tower, so there are no results to report, except that the tower does take an awful lot of watering. But they were 800% more work, and disaster befell 5 plants as, no matter how carefully I tried, I snapped them by accident, trying to fill in all around them in their tight box (3 feet by 3 feet box). Well, at least you read it before you built a second one! It is also worth pointing out that determinacy is not really a very useful concept with potatoes; it is essentially a more complicated way to express whether the maturity is early or late, unless your main interest is in the flowering behavior of the pant. I’m not ready to say that potato towers don’t work. Early and mid-season potatoes don’t do this at all – no matter how tall the tower is. Try to keep the tower no higher than 2–3 feet as taller towers are difficult to keep evenly watered. My experiments with growing under straw have produced more voles than tubers. If so, leave a comment and let the world know how it worked for you. Great for small gardens, but do they really work? It will still make a fine planter. How Do Potatoes Grow? When the seed potatoes are covered with soil, they start making roots and shoots. 6″ of soil has done that for gardeners and farmers for several hundred years. This is where tubers come from. If you can fault most of the people who have written about this with anything, it is not sufficiently testing the idea before promoting it. I attempted the potato tower (using a few sweet potatoes rather than potatoes because our climate is quite warm and dry). The only “manure” I need is what I put in my garden. Congratulations on your higher potato yields. Your specific comments were very helpful. Very rapid covering. One layer of potatoes and a meager harvest. No doubt, the idea will persist on the Internet as long as people still grow potatoes, which will probably be a very long time. Domesticated potatoes don’t produce additional stolons past the first few nodes above the seed piece. Thanks Tim. For the math challenged, that means that I grew 3.25 pounds of potatoes. Potato towers made from wood, built by craftthyme.com. There is one set of rhizomes which forms very near the original seed potato. It was a complete failure. The theory is that potatoes will be formed all along the stem, filling the full height of the tower. A tower adds nothing to the experience of growing late/indeterminate varieties other than additional work. Thank you so much for good informations and experiences on potato tower. As a rookie, last summer I was excited with the idea of making a miracle harvest with a potatoes tower. I will NEVER again do a potato tower. I had watched a homesteading video that made it look like magic, but sadly, I ended up with withered greens, rotted greens, no sweet potatoes, and LOTS of widow spiders. No doubt, the idea will persist on the Internet as long as people still grow potatoes, which will probably b… There are several studies that conclude that hilling increases the marketable yield of tubers, but not the total yield. It now includes details like the need to add levels at a certain rate in order to force the plant to form more stolons and a requirement for indeterminate varieties in order to produce multiple levels of tubers. I’m sure it didn’t take long before someone decided to add a second tire, then a third, and the tower was born. How To Build Potato Tower Box: The first thing you need to do is lay two of the 2×4’s down flat. Just don’t invest your retirement savings in this project. I once had the opportunity to grow potatoes organically in my backyard. Therefore, any filling of a potato tower after flowering will never result in deeper layers of potatoes — the plants don’t produce tubers on stems after the flowers are seen. The only problem with this idea is that it isn’t true. By the way, I had also learned to do potatoes on the surface, under a thick layer of straw (what the French here call ‘paillage’) but the crop was terrible compared to my standard beds in the same soil and same weather. Thanks. The tower hypothesis claims that the additional hilling allows the plant to create more tubers, so the tuber count should also be significantly higher than for a conventionally grown plant. I can attest to everything (first hand) you have explained and described in your article. You are now ready to plant potatoes. I’m assuming that the temperatures you’re referring to here are the soil temperatures, and not the ambient air temperatures at night. As far as I’m concerned, if potato towers do not give you a higher yield, they don’t work. Feb 24, 2018 - Explore Peggy Hendrix's board "Potato towers" on Pinterest. A lot of work went into writing all that material, but apparently no testing. I had been using these 36″ tall towers for the last five years and generally speaking would only average fifteen pounds per container. If you live in a perfect climate and put the plants on drip irrigation, you could possibly grow 13 plants in that box – 9 along the perimeter and dangling out and four growing in the center. Wednesday 18th of May 2016. 1-4 starts in the center of the tire. Potatoes are cool season crops that like cool, moist conditions when tubers are forming. I selected one of these videos and took a clip from it because Dan Rogers took the time to have a close look at the vines. Growing Potatoes in Potato Towers. I loved this method. I used three types of sweet potatoes to start, along with straw and potting soil placed in layers in a open topped 3’x3’x3′ wooden box lined with ground cloth for drainage and a front door wired closed, (with the hope that I would open it and the sweet potatoes would come rolling out). The problem is that most gardeners grow early and mid-season potatoes, which only make new potatoes at ground level. It would be better to ask if there is anybody who has documented a potato that does form multiple levels of stolons. Step 1: Gather Ye Supplies. This design also makes harvesting easier. I too fell into the “tater-tower trap” that is so pushed all over the internet. Potato towers not only save space in your garden and yard, but also make for easier harvesting, and often bring bigger yields than traditional methods—six to 12 potatoes for each seed potato. That just doesn’t happen. Check out other posts about growing potatoes and share some of you own in the links below. The great thing about potatoes is that they are simple to grow. I’ve looked at the Kenosha Potato Project quite closely, and have opted for grow bags. And cheap too. At the end of the season, the towers produced slightly more per sq ft footprint. I get about 11 lbs. All of the rhizomes and potatoes are at or near ground level. So let’s start there: This is the raised bed at the end of the growing season, a few months back. Hi Curzio, I experimented the potato tower two years ago, expecting a total failiure. You can see the results on my blog. Science usually starts with an observation. Your suggestions will have me doing the work where the plant needs it; not on my misled expectations. Some wild potatoes set stolons over a larger number of nodes and also can form very long and sometimes branching stolons. If you somehow forced the plant to produce ten levels of stolons, then you would get 10 times as many tubers that would be 1/10th as large (actually less, because so much energy would have to be expended on the formation and maintenance of all those stolons). I’m glad that the Kenosha Potato Project is linked from your name Curzio. But if you take the aggregate of these videos you quickly realize nobody is producing a lot of potatoes using towers. The description so far describes how early and mid-season varieties grow. I’ve got a copy of “the Self Sufficient Gardener” by John Seymour, and there’s a sidebar illustration of this method, I think with the potatoes growing in a barrel. Through photosynthesis, the leaves are making sugars which are sent down to the forming tubers. Potatoes poke out the side and I finished up with potato’s all the way from bottom to top. It is going to find a way to send shoots upward against gravity and roots downward with gravity, no matter what you do. It primarily protects the tubers from sunlight, but also pests and some diseases. I will try again this year, however, and I’ll weigh the production to get some numbers for you. Sweet potatoes can have longer vines and more foliage area, but if you don’t let it spread out to catch sunlight or trellis it in some way, you won’t get the benefits. https://jardincooldotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/tour-a-pommes-de-terre-recolte.png, Thanks for the Feedback Marc! I also attempted to grow them in the ground to no better success. In normal planting, potatoes are spaced out along a row and rows are reasonably far apart. At the end of the season you have a few leaves at the top of a very long stem that is devoid of leaves. September 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm. We've tried it several times and have results to help you decide if potato towers are right for you! You would think that, if this worked so well, there would be large scale installations of potato towers all over the world. If this works and I get a good amount of potatoes I might keep growing them this way. Thanks for the article. Do Marigolds Stop Cabbage Worms – Is this Good Companion Planting? They essentially have no energy left to product tubers, so it is actually counter productive to do this. Powered by, end of the season you have a few leaves at the top of a very long stem that is devoid of leaves. The Tower Materials. It definitely seems to be a fully realized version of this meme, and I suspect is was thrown in as an afterthought. For information on planting your seed potatoes in the potato tower, please see our article – How To Plant Potatoes In a Potato Tower. Our towers were built out of poultry netting. I wouldn’t expect great results, since this kind of structure takes a plant that normally forms stolons over 360 degrees and reduces that to about 150 degrees. It is possible that a variety could be bred to better take advantage of the vertical space provided by a tower, although I don’t think it is likely since the tower introduces a lot of additional problems that must be overcome. The entire book seems to be a (beautifully illustrated) mish mash of different gardening systems and tips and tricks thrown together to capitalize on his self sufficiency superstardom (at that time I think the late 70s). Gosh Darnit, why didn’t I see this article before I wasted time, money and materials making a fricking potato tower!? You can grown them in containers, but limiting the height is the key to getting decent yields, and it should not be expected to get better yields than when grown in the ground, which is where potatoes have evolved and been selected to grow for thousands of years. What I feel is most beneficial, is the fact that you are willing to share your knowledge and expertise as you have with others! Thanks for the very informative article. This means that more of the tubers are in good condition for sale. A Denver Post article supplies a bit more information, including the fact that the originator of this idea has achieved a maximum yield of 81 pounds. One pound of large potato seed stock may yield up to 10 pounds and one pound of fingerlings up to 20 pounds. Everyone is finding all of the potatoes at the bottom of the tower, which is exactly what science predicts. I am not saying that you can’t grow potatoes in a tower or even that you can’t get good yields in a tower. Just not worth the time and effort unless you’re actually growing for sustenance innawoods somewhere. Now that you have the potato tower built and filled with good compost/potting soil mix, it’s time to plant the seeds potatoes. I’ve been slowly searching online to brush up my knowledge to start a raised veggie garden next Spring. Articles about potato towers fall into four categories: those that promote the idea and never report on results, those that later report pretty normal potato yield, those that later report failure, and those that promote the idea and then unconvincingly report success (usually in support of selling a tower kit). 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