Potato Towers: How To Farm Potatoes On Your Front Stoop

...Or In A Tiny Yard

Even if you have a tiny backyard, or just a deck, you can grow and harvest dozens of your own potatoes using the handy technique of building potato towers. They're very easy to make and maintain, and can start from something you might otherwise throw away: old potatoes with eyes. We've laid out the steps for making your own potato tower here.

Here's what you should do:

1. Start by picking a good location. You won't be moving the potato tower after it's planted. The best location should get at least six hours of sun a day. If you have a yard, place it over cultivated ground.

2. Make a cylinder from chicken wire or old bamboo fencing to form the walls of the tower. It should be 2-3 feet in diameter and 3-4 feet tall. Secure the edges of the wire together with fasteners.

3. If you're using chicken wire, line it with hay, straw, or cardboard to keep the soil in place. Put about four inches of compost in the bottom of the tower, followed by a layer of mulch.

4. Now you need potatoes. If you happen to old potatoes from the farmer's market or someone else's garden, you can use those (potatoes from the grocery store may have been treated with sprout inhibitors, so they aren't a good choice). If you don't have old potatoes around, you can get seed potatoes at a garden store. Place 4 or 5 potatoes on top of the compost, about six inches apart. Cover them with 3-4 inches of soil, and water.

5. Cover the plants with more compost and mulch as they grow. When the soil is six inches from the top of the tower, stop adding soil and let the potato plants keep growing, keeping them watered.

6. Later in the summer, the plants will yellow, a sign that they're ready to harvest. Remove the wire fasteners on the tower, and let the potatoes come tumbling out. You can use the soil for other plants. The potatoes should be stored out of the sun in a cool room for a couple of weeks before starting to cook with them.

Check out this video from Australian T.V. for a demonstration (this gardener used bamboo fencing for a prettier look than simple chicken wire): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xbUI6Y18pY.

Related Post: How To Grow 100 Pounds of Potatoes in 4 Square Feet