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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Potato towers?

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Post  Aussie Girl 6/16/2010, 11:25 pm

Thanks Shoda, we don't get anything harsher than maybe 1 week of frost here, do you think that's too much for the spuds?

(I may have gotten my zones wrong, I could be more 11 than 10)
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Post  Chopper 6/16/2010, 11:41 pm

Here in southern California where we do get a month or so of frost but no freezing (never say never) it is recommended that you plant from December through June at the latest. Translate that into Australian and that would be June through November. So now is the perfect time.
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Post  ander217 6/17/2010, 8:12 am

We usually plant potatoes here on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. I plant the pieces about four to six inches deep. One year my White Cobbler potatoes came up, we got a freeze, and the tops died. I thought that was it. New plants came back out, and we got another freeze which killed the tops. Those plants came up for the third time and raised the best potatoes we've ever raised.

Potatoes deal with cold weather better than hot weather, I think.
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Post  kimbertangleknot 6/22/2010, 12:12 pm

This is completely fascinating to me. I came across a similar contraption online called a Potato Tower at Burpee (which while writing this I went to get a link and they TOTALLY changed their website and no longer can I find that item), but they didn't explain fully how to use it.

So what I'm gathering from here is that you start with the potatoes that you wish to grow (except for the ones that don't do good in the tower), plant them in the tower, and once new growth comes up (4-6" worth) you just cover all that back up with... anything you have on hand that can work as a growing medium? You don't plant new plants, the potatoes themselves just grow more potatoes? But then what if you want to harvest some potatoes without harvesting the whole thing?

Sorry, it's just hard to wrap my head around it, it truly seems alien to me, but would love to give it a go next year.
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Post  Shoda 6/22/2010, 5:47 pm

Our local nursery doesn't stock seed potatoes until fall. They also told me that while potatoes do OK in the heat, they actually produce more in the cool weather and will survive a frost or two. Oh well, I have some planted now and I guess we will see if they produce anything.
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Post  cautery 1/29/2011, 12:48 am

OK, I get the tower concept... Now, when I build up, can I use MM exclusively as the additive growing medium (with perhaps a thin layer of mulch on top that can be removed and replaced as needed to help control weeds and shield from some heat/dehy probs)?

I don't really want to contaminate my MM by layering it with straw, etc...
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Post  middlemamma 1/29/2011, 12:55 am

I never used anything BUT MM...and I had a great potato harvest. Smile
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Post  miinva 1/29/2011, 12:19 pm

I'd love to hear about people's experiments with towers. I'm considering planting some fingerling potatoes in MM, but not in an SFG.
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Post  chocolatepop 1/29/2011, 12:32 pm

Of course you can exculsively use mels mix, I just found it was heavier , and actually only using it in the bottom 6 or so inches of space was easier, since that is where the taters grew, and then piled with straw. This is what I found was cheapest, and easiest, especially during harvest. The straw didnt really combine that much, and what did I just turned over and it composted in for this season Smile
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Post  FarmerValerie 1/29/2011, 1:26 pm

I found a how to, complete with designs 2 year ago, I have not yet tried it I hope to this year. According to this one, you can remove the bottom board, pull out potatoes, push dirt back, and keep growing. http://tipnut.com/grow-potatoes/
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Post  Furbalsmom 1/29/2011, 3:22 pm

Yukon Golds, and other early varieties set fruit once and do not do well in towers. You only get potatoes in the bottom 6 inches.
Late season potatoes tend to continue to produce all the way up the tower. Some late season potatoes include Yellow Fin, Binjte, Gold Rush, Kennebec, French Fingerling, Russian Banana, All Blue.

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Post  chocolatepop 1/29/2011, 3:29 pm

Furbalsmom wrote:Yukon Golds, and other early varieties set fruit once and do not do well in towers. You only get potatoes in the bottom 6 inches.
Late season potatoes tend to continue to produce all the way up the tower. Some late season potatoes include Yellow Fin, Binjte, Gold Rush, Kennebec, French Fingerling, Russian Banana, All Blue.


Ive actually done this for two years and all varieties ive done set in the bottom 6 inches.... I do early, main, late, storing, etc...
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Post  Furbalsmom 1/29/2011, 3:44 pm

Sorry if my info is incorrect. This was my take on the several web pages I have read recently on growing potatoes in towers, buckets, bags etc. I am hoping to try potatoes again this year along with the million other things I want to try.

Last year the few potato plants I had succumbed to an excess of weeds resulting in just a couple of potatoes in about 4 square feet, 8 inches deep. (I was using amended soil and not Mel's Mix so that is my excuse for anything that did not prosper last year)
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Post  chocolatepop 1/29/2011, 5:12 pm

Furbalsmom wrote:Sorry if my info is incorrect. This was my take on the several web pages I have read recently on growing potatoes in towers, buckets, bags etc. I am hoping to try potatoes again this year along with the million other things I want to try.

Last year the few potato plants I had succumbed to an excess of weeds resulting in just a couple of potatoes in about 4 square feet, 8 inches deep. (I was using amended soil and not Mel's Mix so that is my excuse for anything that did not prosper last year)

Oh im sorry if i came across like that! I found those sites also...which is why I did the taters the way I did..but I found it didnt work as well as taunted, the more the soil, the bigger the taters because of the increase in space. BUT potatoes and sweet potatoes were by far the most fun plants I did.
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Post  Furbalsmom 1/29/2011, 5:20 pm

I did not take offense at all.

I have not tried the towers myself, hope to do so, and was just reporting what I read. The problem with so many web sites is if someone creates a plan or project, they frequently do not follow up with actual results, and it is easy to get caught up in their enthusiasm.

I appreciate finding results from someone who has actually tried the towers. I may limit myself to just an additional 6 - 8 inch high rise over my new 8 inch bed. Course, who knows, I may try a bag or deeper pot too.
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Post  boffer 1/29/2011, 5:29 pm

One of the nicest things about growing taters in MM is that when it is time to harvest, let the soil dry a bit, then it is very easy to reach in and harvest with your hands rather than tools, and the taters don't get accidentally damaged with your trowel or shovel. Last year was the first year I tried potatoes in a TT. 12 inches deep. I tried 'hilling' with straw, but I didn't like it compared to MM, compost, or top soil. I only got taters in the initial six inches.

The first year I tried potatoes in a garbage can was a wonderful success. I had company the day I tipped the can over onto a tarp, and it was like a surprise party. I keep digging into the can and the taters kept coming and coming. 72 big 'uns that were the best boiled potatoes that I've ever eaten, and they are the main reason I still grow potatoes, because they are relatively cheap. They were sooooo good.

But I haven't been able to do that since (5 years of trying). All my garbage can taters grow in the bottom six inches, and the rest of the soil in the can is empty. This is the one occasion that I wish I took better garden notes Embarassed because I don't know what type I grew! It was late last year that I learned that there are early and late season spuds and that the late season do better in towers/cans, so I might try it again.

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Post  jumiclads 1/29/2011, 6:29 pm

I have yet to try growing anything never mind potatoes in towers. I have been following this thread and done a bit of research on the net and found all the sites you have all probably seen. One I did find here in the UK was interesting. They sell their own design of tower and give this advice with it. "Not surprisingly, hardy root vegetables do better in a healthy, well-drained and aerated soil, as that is where they live and grow. If you diligently water your potatoes daily and keep feeding, you will be rewarded with a healthy crop." They also say that the tower should be well drained and then water every day, even when it rains because the leaves protect the tower too well from the rain.

Don't know if this help but I thought I would just let you know what I found.
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Post  Squat_Johnson 1/29/2011, 7:11 pm

I have a potato order in, and I'm trying to see how much space I need to allot... How many squares will one pound of seed potatoes fill? I know it vaires a bit. What's your guess? I have one pound of three varieties ordered and need to guess how much space to leave. They don't ship for a few weeks yet.
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Post  boffer 1/29/2011, 8:06 pm

So I measured on my kitchen scales. 3 medium size and 4 small potatoes are each about a pound. I cut up each potato so each piece had 2-3 eyes. That was 3-4 seed pieces from each medium, and 2-3 from each small.

Then there's spacing. I think Mel says four per square. Last year I did two per square, and wasn't real pleased, so I'm going to do one per square this year.

Pick the numbers you like. My SWAG is somewhere between 3 and 12 squares. Sorry, that's the best I can do. :tiphat:
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Post  middlemamma 1/30/2011, 3:10 am

Hmmm.

I got potatoes all the way up my MM. Way more than the bottom 6 inches? I grew Purple Viking in 4 big huge pots.

I also grew 4 big pots of another kind that never produced at all. It was like all the baby potatoes rotted in the soil before they got to grow.

No clue what I did to make them grow all the way up...and harvesting in the MM was awesomely easy like Boffer said. I dumped it out in a wheel barrow scooped out the taters and then spread my mm around a little in each box and mixed in.

Gosh, I hope I have good luck with them again this year. They were SO much fun and so yummy.

Jennie

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Post  LaFee 1/30/2011, 5:31 am

and for one more voice....

I grew Charlottes last year in rubble sacks - Heavy-duty bags (like the material they use for tarps) designed for hauling construction debris.

I rolled the tops down like a cuff, and started with 4 chits per bag...as they grew, I kept adding more MM (actually a commercial mix that was pretty close to MM, and with which I had *great* success). At one point I actually found I couldn't add soil fast enough to keep up with the growth!

The plants were huge and healthy and everyone commented on what attractive plants they were.

I pinched the blooms once, then let nature take its course after that.

In September, I upended them into a wheelbarrow little by little, pulling out all of the potatoes as I found them - as Boffer said, it was simple and fun -- clean potatoes, no stab wounds from a pitchfork or shovel, and I ended up with a little over 5 pounds of *gorgeous* potatoes from 16 chits...not a stellar return, but fresh potatoes just taste so darned good, and that we a few meals' worth.

The mix is still in the wheelbarrow over the winter, so I'll put it on my flower beds this year and start over.
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Post  ander217 1/30/2011, 6:57 am

chocolatepop wrote:Of course you can exculsively use mels mix, I just found it was heavier , and actually only using it in the bottom 6 or so inches of space was easier, since that is where the taters grew, and then piled with straw. This is what I found was cheapest, and easiest, especially during harvest. The straw didnt really combine that much, and what did I just turned over and it composted in for this season Smile

Chocolatepop, glad to see you back. We've missed you.
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Post  camprn 1/30/2011, 9:09 am

ander217 wrote:
chocolatepop wrote:Of course you can exculsively use mels mix, I just found it was heavier , and actually only using it in the bottom 6 or so inches of space was easier, since that is where the taters grew, and then piled with straw. This is what I found was cheapest, and easiest, especially during harvest. The straw didnt really combine that much, and what did I just turned over and it composted in for this season Smile

Chocolatepop, glad to see you back. We've missed you.
+1 happy hi
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Post  horatiocary 5/11/2011, 8:06 am

A website where you can buy great potato towers is: henleypotatotower.co.uk

They have a tower which stacks up. It also has holes in the side so you can put some of the stalks outside at all levels so that there is more foliage which means more potatoes can grow. It also comes with a polycarbonate lid to keep the frost off in the early weeks. It's a very good product that lasts a long time and works!

If that's not enough they also have a £500 competition for the gardener who produces the most potatoes in a tower in a year!
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Post  Furbalsmom 5/11/2011, 12:45 pm

Potato towers? - Page 2 654548 horatiocarey

Do you SFG? We have several members in the UK. I cerrtainly hope you have had a chance to read the ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDEN book that was orignally published around 2006. It is full of great information to make gardening easier and simpler to do, without having to deal with your own native soil, which usually leaves something to be desired.

That sounds like a pretty good potato tower. Have you used it or are you just looking for something for now?

Keep us updated on your progress and drop by the European Forum for information that is specific to your region.

Again, Welcome
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