Thursday, July 1, 2010

Got Spuds?

How's this for vertical farming?  Plant a potato tower in your garden or on your patio.  All you need is some scrap wire mesh or chicken wire.  I started this one a couple of months ago using red, white and purple potatoes from my kitchen that had begun sprouting eyes.  Some people recommend you only use seed potatoes since market potatoes can carry diseases.  Michele and I decided to do a little study / contest to see if seed potatoes really do better.  More on that below...

Form a tower with your wire mesh, connecting the sides with zip ties or by looping the cut wires on the edge of the tower to the other edge.  Add a layer containing soil mixed with compost (or straw).  Next, cut a potato or 2 into quarters and toss them in.  Add another layer of soil, compost or straw and water.  When the potatoes begin growing out the sides and top of the tower, repeat.  It must be working because as I added my last layer of potatoes and soil, I dug the ground next to the tower and found a baby red potato!
When the plants begin to die off near the end of the season, unfurl your potato tower and watch the potatoes tumble out.  Michele and I each planted a tower at the same time.  Mine is in the garden and most of my potatoes are organic potatoes I picked up at the grocery store.  Michele planted one of hers over a concrete patio using seed potatoes from her favorite seed supplier, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Michele also planted a tower over grass using a chicken manure and straw combo.  I cannot wait to see which tower gets more potatoes.  The contest is on!  If you try this and find success, let us know.

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