Potato towers with straw


“Healthy” And Alternative Ways To Smoke Weed Using Every Food Group

Apr 19, 2013 · 5 min read

By Chelsea Beeler

4/20 is tomorrow as you probably already know, but let’s say this past week really got the best of you and you’re feeling totally unprepared for the big day. You call your dealer last minute and luckily he’s able to hook you up with his last eighth of Lemon Haze, but then you remember how your roommate threw his bong out the window last weekend when he thought the cops were coming to bust that crazy party you were having. You don’t have a pipe because you left it somewhere in suburbia, you don’t have papers because you don’t know how to roll and now that your bong is shattered, you have nothing.

You think for a second that a trip to St. Mark’s might be worth your while, but then you realize you can’t justify dropping change on another pipe that you’ll probably lose anyway. So what do you do? You’ve heard of people smoking out of Gatorade bottles and beer cans and you know that you have a pen and some tinfoil lying around somewhere. Well, *NEWSFLASH*: 4/20 isn’t about inhaling nasty chemicals like BPA or aluminum — it’s a celebration of, you know, natural stuff. So why not refer to the food pyramid and take a look around your kitchen? The following is a stoner’s guide to food you can use to make bongs at home.

Fats, Oils, and Sweets: Entemann’s Classic Rich Frosted Donut

In terms of smoking weed, Entemann’s Classic Rich Frosted Donuts probably aren’t your best bet, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done. All you have to do is carve out some cake and frosting on top of the donut to create the “bowl” — which we’ll call “3 o’clock.” Starting from “6 o’clock” drill a hole through the front of the donut until it intersects with the bowl you’ve created at “3 o’clock.” Pack it, light it, and voilá — you’re smoking weed out of a donut. Oh, and the best part is these come in a box of eight, so once you’re stoned you have seven left to eat.

Dairy: String Cheese

Since string cheese is, well, stringy, it tends to separate easily, which can be a problem when you’re haphazardly trying to jam a pen through the entire thing. The art of crafting a string cheese pipe requires patience and dexterity. Since the diameter is small, if you’re going to use a pen you need to be gentle. Firmly hold the end of the cheese together and ease a pen through its body. Once you’ve hollowed out the cheese to the best of your ability, use the tip of the pen (and just the tip) to create a small hole on top, which connects to the tunnel you’ve created inside. Carefully carve away some of the cheese around the small hole and there you have it — a string cheese pipe.

Meat: Hot Soppressata

Hot soppressata is great for smoking weed because it’s a dry breed of salami that’s not too firm and not too soft. You don’t have to use hot soppressata, but the added spice will certainly add some flair to your weed-smoking experience. Using the same principles as the string cheese pipe, you’ll want to hollow out the interior of the salami — a small knife or even a screwdriver are better tools to use than a pen in this scenario. Since the salami will retain its shape, you can drill a hole through the entire thing to create a carb opposite the mouthpiece. On top of the soppressata, drill a small hole to the hollow middle and remove excess meat. The cool thing about using a salami pipe is that when you’re smoking it’ll smell like BBQ! Okay, maybe not, but a girl can dream.

Vegetable: Potato

There’s been some debate over whether or not a potato is considered a vegetable but, for all intents and purposes, we’re going to go ahead and say that it is. A potato is a great veggie to use for smoking because it’s easy to penetrate with a pen and requires no cutting or constructing. All you need to do is jab a pen through the top and through the side until the two tunnels connect. Scrape away access potato on the top, and there you have it: a potato pipe.

Fruit: Red Delicious Apple

Everyone has heard of this one because smoking weed out of an apple is the preferred method by middle schoolers everywhere. Drive a pen through the side of the apple, remove the stem, and — just like the potato — jam a pen through the top until you reach the other tunnel. Apples tend to be everyone’s favorite fruit to smoke from because they’re easy to manipulate and taste great.

Grain: Miscellaneous Roll

Smoking weed out of bread is a terrible idea and you shouldn’t do it under any circumstances other than you have absolutely nothing else to use. The problem with using bread is that it’s very porous. Sure, it’s easy enough to create a bowl and a tunnel with a pen or a knife, but when you light your weed and inhale a lot (if not all) of the smoke is going to get trapped inside the crust and you’ll be left with a stinky roll. In any case, if you insist on using bread try to find the densest roll available.

Happy 4/20 everyone! We’re no engineers here at NYU Local, but when in a weed bind, damn are we crafty.

Produce the Pipe: Fruits and Vegetables That Make Good Cannabis Pipes

Jeremiah WilhelmMarch 23, 2018 Share Print

(Leafly) You can mix up your cannabis smoking routine without dropping any scratch on a piece–all it takes is a little creativity and a leisurely stroll through your local grocer. Yes, I am talking about a produce pipe.

The key to a successful fruit or vegetable pipe is rigidity and airflow. The consistency of your produce will determine how well it handles the engineering and modifications necessary to transform it from salad fixing to toke-worthy firebrand. But before we get ahead of ourselves, here are a few tools that might come in handy when crafting your own organic, vitamin-rich smoking device.

Useful Supplies for Making Produce Pipes


  • Potato peeler: The knife-like tip of this common kitchen utensil is the perfect tool for carving a bowl into produce.
  • Skewer: These pokey tools are perfect for creating an airway between your mouthpiece and a freshly carved bowl. Metal and bamboo skewers work best, but you can also use chop sticks and toothpicks.
  • Paring knife: A small, quality paring knife can make short work of a fruit or vegetable pipe. Be careful and consider using this very sharp tool before consumption. Nothing kills a buzz faster than stitches.
  • Coffee spoon: This tiny, agile spoon is the perfect size for creating a bowl in your fruit or vegetable pipe.
  • Pumpkin carving knife: This small saw-like knife can grind through the tender flesh of most items in the produce aisle.
  • Pen casing: This hollow cylinder is ideal for puncturing medium sized holes in your produce of choice. Also, there isn’t any harm in giving a tool like this a quick rinse before use.

Now that we have our tools, let’s take a stab at a few fruits and vegetables that make decent single-use pipes.

Best Fruits for Homemade Pipes


Apple: Apples are far-and-away the most common produce item smoked out of. Just search “apple pipe” on YouTube and you’ll get about 768,000 results.

Banana: No, we are not smoking the banana peel, but rather, using this fruit’s leathery exterior and malleable insides as an easy and commonplace pipe-fruit.

Cucumber: Cucumbers are, more or less, already shaped like a pipe. Add a bowl about a 1/3 of the way up with your handy potato peeler, slide a skewer down the center, pop a carb in the side, and voila! Add a terry cloth robe and some Enya for the full spa day experience.

Pineapple: The pineapple or “high-napple” is becoming a second symbol for cannabis consumption alongside the iconic fan leaf. Taking a rip out of a pineapple is not easy due to its coarse exterior (although I’ve seen people use pineapples as a tropical-flavored joint mouthpiece).

Melon: The classical wisdom is to “pick a melon you can manage.” Melons work well because their flesh is firm and the size lends itself to several different approaches to mouthpiece placement and airflow.

Best Vegetables for Homemade Pipes


Gourd/Squash: Hollowed-out gourds make durable smoking contraptions.

Potato: Potatoes are a pretty commonplace vegetable in the kitchen, and uncooked, they’re pretty solid. This is another perfect opportunity to employ your potato peeler and handy-dandy skewer.

Carrot: Carrots are already shaped like a pipe and require very little effort to transmute. Chop off both ends, skewer through, and bam: carrot chillum.

Zucchini: This summer squash can be fashioned into a pipe in a similar manner as a cucumber.

This is just one basket-full on a stroll through the produce section of the local grocery store. Try to see the potential in a pepper or take a hit from a Honeycrisp. Crafting a makeshift pipe can be a fun way to break up routine, challenge yourself, or even save a smoke session in a pinch. Craft your creations with care and compost that cannabis cucumber or what-have-you after you’re finished.

These are just a few possible pieces of pipe-worthy produce. Drop a comment below and share your favorite fruit or vegetable to craft a pipe from.

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Jeremiah Wilhelm

Jeremiah Wilhelm is a former strain researcher at Leafly.

View Jeremiah Wilhelm’s articles


Twice Baked Potatoes are a holiday classic! There’s nothing that says special occasion more than this fancy baked potato. You’ll love this recipe because you can have the potatoes made ahead of time, and then just reheat and serve. Twice baked potatoes are easy to freeze as well, allowing you to get some of your holiday meal prep done weeks in advance!

How To Make Twice Baked Potatoes

For more potato recipes you may also like my easy Smashed Potatoes, Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes or a decadent French potato recipe called a Tartiflette.

What is a Twice Baked Potato?

The twice baked potato is the best of both worlds. It’s a baked potato that has been split in half and scooped of its flesh. The potato flesh is then whipped with butter, milk and sour cream to create a fluffy mashed potato which is then piped back into the potato skin. Often times twice-baked potatoes are then topped with bacon, cheese or chives.

STEP#1: Prepare the Potatoes

Before baking the potatoes rub each one with olive oil and place them on a baking tray. The olive oil will keep the skin supple while it bakes.

Bake at 400F for 1 hour 20 minutes, turning the potatoes halfway through. Turning them will help the potatoes bake evenly, and prevent their skins from getting too hard on either side.

STEP#2: Remove the Potato Flesh

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in half and remove their flesh. The easiest way to do this is with a melon baller.

Be sure to allow at least 1/4″ border of potato flesh around the skin. This will make your twice baked potatoes more stable and easier to fill by giving them support.

STEP#3: Whip the Potatoes

Place all the potato flesh in a bowl of an electric mixer, and combine with the butter, milk and sour cream. Then season the potatoes with salt and pepper and chives. At this stage, I also like to add some Swiss cheese for more flavor and creaminess.

STEP#4: Pipe Potatoes into Shells

Then transfer the mashed potato mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Make sure the star tip is wide enough to pipe out the thick potato mash. If the tip has too small of an opening, it will be harder to pipe out the potato.

Once all the shells have been filled, top each potato with shredded cheddar cheese.

The best part about twice baked potatoes is the fact that they can be made in advance! After filling them, you can place your tray of potatoes in the fridge, uncovered until it’s time to serve.

How Do You Reheat a Twice Baked Potato?

To reheat the potatoes, place them in a 350F oven for 20-25 minutes or until the potato is warmed through and the cheese has melted.

Then place the tray under the broiler for a few seconds to make sure the cheese is nice and bubbly. Then place the potatoes on a serving plate and garnish with fresh chives before serving.

How To Freeze a Twice Baked Potato?

To freeze a twice baked potato, place them on a baking tray and put them in the freezer. Once frozen transfer the potatoes to a freezer-safe container and store them for up to 1 month.

Please leave a rating and a review. This helps others discover and enjoy the recipe too!


  • 5lbs (2,250g) russet potatoes (should be 6 potatoes)
  • 1 tbsp (30ml) olive oil
  • 8 tbsp (120g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (240ml) sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups (350ml) milk
  • 2 tsp (10ml) salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup (22g) fresh chives, minced plus 2 tbsp for garnishing
  • ½ cup (50g) Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup (100g) grated cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 400F (200C).

Rub the potatoes on all sides with the olive oil. Place them on a baking sheet for 1 hour, turning them over at 30 minutes to bake evenly.

Allow the potatoes to cool. Then slice each one in half and remove the flesh with a melon baller, being careful to leave a ¼ inch border of potato around the edge which will give the shell support. Place the flesh in a bowl and place the shells back on the baking tray.

To the potato flesh add 8 tbsp. of softened butter, whip potatoes until butter is incorporated and melted. Then add the sour cream, and then add the milk. Season with the salt, pepper and chives. Then stir in the Swiss cheese.

Transfer the potato mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe 3 decorative swirls in the potato shells. Add 1 tbsp. of the cheddar cheese on top. Place uncovered in the fridge on the baking tray until ready to heat and serve.

To-Reheat the twice-baked potatoes, place them in a 350F for 20 minutes or until potatoes are warmed through and cheese is melted. Then pop under the broiler for a few seconds to gently brown and bubble the cheese.

Transfer potatoes to a plate and garnish with more chives.


The best type of potato to use for twice-baked potatoes is a russet potato. Russets are starchy potatoes that will help your potato be nice and fluffy.

To freeze the twice-baked potatoes, after filling, place on a baking tray and place in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container freeze up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat in a 350F for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are warmed through and cheese is melted. Then pop under the broiler for a few seconds to gently brown and bubble the cheese.

Nutrition Information:

Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 373 Total Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 48mg Sodium: 508mg Carbohydrates: 43g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 3g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 10g 956shares

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The all-new Self-Reliance Garden Tower 2 is the culmination of four years of extensive testing by thousands of Garden Tower users across North America. First-time Gardeners, Master Gardeners, Environmental Scientists, Commerical and Community Gardeners, and Ecological Educators in more than forty institutions consistently rely on the ease and efficiency of this system.

Here’s just a few ideas of everything you can grow in your Garden Tower:

34 Vegetables That Have Been Grown – In Abundance – In The Garden Tower

Image: Hilltop Garden, Indiana University. “Today’s bounty of 11.5 lbs(!!) of tomatoes from a single plant. This brings the total tomato production for this tower (spring) to about 16 lbs and counting. There are still several more ripening on the vine.”

38 Examples of Herbs People Grow In Their Garden Towers

Left image: Late September in Indiana: Basil, Stevia, Tomatoes, Peppers, Chives, Lettuce, and more!

33 Ideas for Creating Your Own Flower Oasis

Edible Flowers: Calendula, Carthamus, Dianthus, , Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Salvia, Violas, and more!

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Garden Myths – Learn the truth about gardening

Potato towers are a hot topic, probably because a lot of people have smaller backyards and they want to produce as much food as they can. The ads are very seductive; “grow 100 pounds of potatoes in a 4 x 4 ft tower. ” And then there are the pictures of someone opening a small container and having dozens of large potatoes falling out. I never knew gardening was so easy.

There are two approaches to finding out if potato towers actually work. One is to look for actual studies that compare potato towers to other forms of growing potatoes and the other is to try and understand how potatoes grow. After all, humans have been growing them for hundreds of years so we do know something about them. I’ll take both approaches in this post.

Potato towers made from wood, built by craftthyme.com

What is a Potato Tower?

Potato plants are similar to tomatoes except that the eatable portion, the tubers, grow under ground. Traditionally, plants are grown for a few weeks, and then soil is hilled up around the plant. The tubers form in this hill which is usually about six inches high.

Potato tower made from tires

It stands to reason that if a small hill produces a good crop, a bigger hill will produce a bigger crop.

How do you make a bigger hill? There are several ways to do this. You can place tires around the plant as it grows and form a vertical tower. Start with one tire and plant the seed potatoes. As they grow remove leaves and place another tire around the stem. Four tires seems to be a popular height.

In the same way, you can use a wire mesh to form a cylinder. And then there is the deluxe solution where you build a square wooden structure as pictured above. Notice that the wood sides can be inserted, one above the other, as the plant gets taller. This design also makes harvesting easier.

All of these solutions are designed so that you place the starting seed tubers in the ground, and then as the plant grows, you keep adding soil to make the hill taller and taller. Add extra tires or pieces of wood to hold the soil around the plant.

At the end of the season, you have a large hill chocked full of potatoes – or at least that is the dream.

Do Potato Towers Work?

In order to answer this question we have to define what we mean by ‘working’. You will get potatoes with this system. But most people who go through the extra work of building towers want a higher yield than just doing it in the ground.

As far as I’m concerned, if potato towers do not give you a higher yield, they don’t work.

How Do Potatoes Grow?

This topic is well understood.

It all starts with seed potatoes which could be small potatoes, or larger ones that have been cut into smaller pieces. Each piece contains one or more eyes, the growing points on a potato. When the seed potatoes are covered with soil, they start making roots and shoots.

After a couple of weeks, rhizomes also start to grow. These are horizontal stems that grow for a while and then form the new potato at their ends. While this is going on the main stem is growing taller and making lots of leaves. Through photosynthesis, the leaves are making sugars which are sent down to the forming tubers.

The key to getting a lot of large tubers is to grow lots of leaves.

The description so far describes how early and mid-season varieties grow. There is one set of rhizomes which forms very near the original seed potato.

We also have late-season varieties which grow over a much longer season. These potatoes will make additional rhizomes higher on the stem; as high as one foot above the seed potato.

Potatoes are cool season crops that like cool, moist conditions when tubers are forming. Optimal tuber set takes place with a night temperature of around 55F (13C). When night time temperatures exceed 68F (20C), tuber growth is reduced, and it stops above 84F (29C).

The Height of Potato Towers

Most towers end up being three to four feet tall. The theory is that potatoes will be formed all along the stem, filling the full height of the tower. The problem is that most gardeners grow early and mid-season potatoes, which only make new potatoes at ground level.

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. All of the rhizomes and potatoes are at or near ground level.

Leaves Equal Potatoes

Anyone who understands photosynthesis will see an obvious flaw in this system. In order to keep filling the tower with soil you have to remove leaves from the plant. At the end of the season you have a few leaves at the top of a very long stem that is devoid of leaves. The lack of leaves results in very little food being produced, which in turn results in few or small potatoes.

You can’t expect a lot of potatoes when you keep removing the leaves.

Too many Seed Potatoes

In normal planting, potatoes are spaced out along a row and rows are reasonably far apart. Some tower recommendations place too many seed potatoes in the tower. Such crowded conditions don’t allow plants to grow to their full potential and then don’t produce a lot of potatoes.

Potatoes Are Cool Growers

Potato towers are just large containers that have all the soil above ground. That means their soil gets hotter and drier than the same soil in the ground. Potatoes produce the most tubers when grown cool and moist. If the soil in the tower gets too hot, they stop making tubers.

Potato Towers are a Flawed Idea

The premise behind this technique is that potatoes produce tubers all along the stem. If you grow a taller stem and surround it with soil you will get a lot of potatoes. This is flawed thinking.

Early and mid-season potatoes don’t do this at all – no matter how tall the tower is. Late-season potatoes do this a bit, but only in the one foot above the seed potato. A one foot tower might help in this case, but there is no benefit to using a three to four foot tower.

What Does Science Say?

I can’t find a single scientific study that looked at potato towers.

Citizen Science Reports

If you go to YouTube you will find many videos about potato towers. Quite a few are DIY videos that show you how to build and plant the towers, but almost none of these show you the results. Then there is other type of video, by real gardeners, that show you the end result.

Admittedly, I did not find any that were very scientific, but some do have a control, usually comparing pots to towers. But if you take the aggregate of these videos you quickly realize nobody is producing a lot of potatoes using towers.

Everyone is finding all of the potatoes at the bottom of the tower, which is exactly what science predicts. 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. This image clearly shows that roots and rhizomes are only produced at the bottom of the vine (right side of the picture), and that is where the harvested potatoes were.

Potato roots from a potato tower showing no roots or rhizomes along the buried stems, photo by Dan Rogers

Do Indeterminate Potatoes Exist?

Lots of gardening sites talk about determinate and indeterminate potatoes, but most government sites and commercial sources for seed potatoes use the terms early-season, mid-season and late-season.

If we define indeterminate in the same way as indeterminate tomatoes, where the plant keeps growing taller and making fruit along the whole stem, then I don’t think the use of the term indeterminate is appropriate for potatoes. Late-season varieties do make tubers slightly higher than the seed potato, but this does not continue along the whole stem.

It is possible that the real fruit of potatoes will form all along a tall stem that is exposed to light, as in indeterminate potatoes, but we don’t eat these fruits.

Growing Potatoes in Containers

Growing in containers might seem like the same technique, but it is significantly different. The container is simply used to provide good soil for growth. Leaves are not removed to create a tall hill, so the plant produces a good crop.

It is much easier to grow potatoes in the ground, but if you don’t have good soil, this is certainly a viable option.

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Why Potato Towers Don’t Work?

There are two ways to find out whether potato towers really work. One is to search for real studies that compare potato towers with different types of developing potatoes and the other is to try to understand how potatoes actually grow.

What is a potato tower?

Usually, the plants are grown for a few weeks and afterward soil is hilled up around the plant. The tubers are developing in this hill, which is normally around six inches high.

How would you make a greater hill in order to have bigger harvest? There are a few different ways to do this. You can place tires around the plant as it develops and create a vertical tower. Begin with one tire and plant the seed potatoes. As they develop discard the leaves and place another tire around the stem.

You can also utilize a wire mesh to shape a tower, or build a square wooden structure.

These arrangements are structured with the goal that you place the seed tubers in the ground, and afterward as the plant develops, you continue adding soil to make the hill taller and taller. Include additional tires or bits of wood to hold the soil around the plant.

So at the end of the season you’re supposed to have a hill full of potatoes. And here comes the big question…

Do potato towers work?

The fact is that you will harvest potatoes, the question is will you get bigger yield? Potatoes are cool season crops that like cool, moist conditions when tubers are forming. Optimal tuber set takes place with a night temperature of around 55°F (13°C). When night time temperatures exceed 68°F (20°C), tuber growth is reduced, and it stops above 84°F (29°C).

How early and mid-season varieties grow?

At the point when the seed potatoes are secured with soil, they begin making roots and shoots.

Following two or three weeks, rhizomes likewise begin to develop. These are stems that develop for some time and after that form the new potato at their ends. While this is going on the principle stem is becoming taller and making bunches of leaves.

Through photosynthesis, the leaves are making sugars which are sent down to the shaping tubers. In order to get large tubers, the plant needs to grow bunches of leaves.

The late-season varieties grow over a much longer season. These potatoes will make additional rhizomes higher on the stem (one foot above the seed potato).

Reasons why potato towers don’t work

1.Height of potato towers

Most towers end up being three to four feet tall. The hypothesis is that potatoes will be shaped up and down the stem, filling the full height of the tower. The issue is that most gardeners grow early and mid-season potatoes, which only make new potatoes at ground level.

You may think that having tall towers implies that the plant begins making potatoes higher up the stem. In fact, when people who have tried this they dismantle their towers find out that the majority of the rhizomes and potatoes are at or close ground level.

2.Small amount of leaves

In order to keep filling the tower with soil you have to remove leaves from the plant. At the end of the season you have a few leaves at the top of a very long stem that is devoid of leaves. The lack of leaves results in very little food being produced, which in turn results in few or small potatoes.

3.Too many seed potatoes

When you grow potatoes normally-in the ground, they are divided out along a row which are separated from each other. Some tower ideas suggest placing too many seed potatoes in the tower. Such packed conditions don’t enable plants to develop to their maximum capacity and after that don’t create a lot of potatoes.

4.Potatoes need cool soil

Potato towers are simply huge containers that have all the soil over the ground. That implies their soil gets hotter and drier than a similar soil in the ground. Potatoes produce the most tubers when grown in cool and moist conditions. In the event that the soil in the tower gets excessively hot, they will stop making tubers completely.

Growing potatoes in containers

Growing potatoes in containers may appear a similar procedure, yet it is essentially unique. The container is basically used to provide great soil for development. Leaves are not discarded to make a tall hill, so the plant creates a decent yield.

It is a lot simpler to grow potatoes in the ground, however if you don’t have great soil (or enough space), this is absolutely a feasible alternative.

Source: www.gardenmyths.com


Growing potatoes in the Willamette Valley

Growing potatoes in “towers” or structures designed to accommodate layers of growth is a popular Internet and garden site recommendation. The allure of getting pounds of potatoes in a small space leads people to try this technique.

The process as described is simple: build a structure (wood, wire, a pot, etc.) plant potatoes in the bottom, keep watered and fertilized, add soil as the plant grows and voila! Potato bounty!

The reality is often disappointing for some growers because towers are difficult to keep evenly watered. But if you use care and don’t build your towers too high, potato towers are one way to save room in your garden.

How potatoes grow

Potatoes originated in South America, and breeding has resulted in hundreds of varieties that grow all over the world. There are early, mid- and late-season varieties that grow in almost every climate.

Seed pieces will produce a main shoot one to two weeks after planting. Rhizomes (a horizontal stem) begin to grow on the underground shoot at about the same time, so it is important to plant deep enough (at least 6 inches) to allow for the rhizome development. Rhizomes grow horizontally and thicken at the tip to form a tuber.

The tuber competes with leaves and shoots for nutrients, so it is important to supply adequate moisture and fertilizer.

Tubers form between five to seven weeks after planting and occur at about the same time as flower formation. But some varieties never flower. The developing tuber competes with leaves and shoots for nutrients so it is important to supply adequate moisture and fertilizer during the tuber development and growth period.

Some potatoes make five to six close-set rhizomes off the main stem, which terminate in tubers that can be large because there are so few of them.

Other varieties grow over a longer season and can set potatoes further up the stem by producing new rhizomes, typically up to a foot above where the first rhizomes that form. These tend to produce relatively large potatoes and quite a few smaller ones.

Finding the right temperature

Potatoes are a cool-season vegetable but are sensitive to hard frosts. Cool, moist conditions favor the period when tubers are forming. The optimal range for shoot emergence is daytime temperatures of 68 degrees F to 72 degrees F. The optimal range for tuber formation is when the temperatures are in the 50- to 60-degree range. When night temperatures are above 68 degrees F, tuber set is reduced and above 84 degrees F, it is inhibited.

It’s wise to plant in raised rows or raised beds to avoid rotting.

For growers in the Willamette Valley, daytime temperatures between 55 degrees F and 60 degrees F are the best time to plant. In the Eugene/Springfield area, this translates to late March-early April when average daytime temperatures are from 55–60 degrees F and night lows are from 36–39 degrees F. Rainfall at this time of year averages between 2–2.5 inches per month. This ensures an adequate moisture supply, but it’s wise to plant in raised rows or raised beds to avoid rotting. You can cover the ground with plastic for a couple of weeks before planting to warm the soil and encourage it to drain well. Also, consider covering the emerging plants with a row cover (either Remay or plastic) at night to protect against insect attacks and frost.

For best results, choose a variety suited to grow locally. For growing in towers, choose a mid- to late-season variety (90–130 days or more.) Late-season varieties continue to send out rhizomes and form their tubers later so you get the “layered” effect in a tower. But this also means you need to pay very close attention to the watering and fertilizing needs of the plant during the higher temperatures of July and August. The wet/dry cycle of watering produces bumpy tuber formation. Potatoes like even, consistent moisture.

Getting a good start

Look for certified seed potatoes at local garden centers. One pound of large potato seed stock may yield up to 10 pounds, and one pound of fingerling potato seed stock may yield up to 20 pounds.

Cut the seed potato into egg-sized pieces with at least three or more eyes per piece. Allow the cut side to seal over (it will have a smooth, dry surface) then plant in well amended, well-drained soil. If planting in a tower or pot, place 6 inches of soil in the bottom then cover the seed pieces with 6 inches or more of soil. Space the seed pieces 12 inches apart. As the plant grows, pile more well-amended soil around the stem leaving the top 6 inches of the plant exposed.

Allow the cut side to seal over then plant in well amended, well-drained soil.

If planting in a wire bin, pile straw, leaves or sheets of newspaper around the edges to keep the soil from falling through the sides. Try to keep the tower no higher than 2–3 feet as taller towers are difficult to keep evenly watered. Plants dry out more rapidly in the tower or pot method, so monitor the watering closely.

Potatoes will do better in slightly acidic soils around 6 pH. You may fertilize every two to three weeks with a balanced granular or liquid emulsion fertilizer. (NPK numbers roughly the same like 4-6-6.)

Harvest potatoes after the tops have died down. Dust the soil from the skins with hands and store in a cool, dry place.

Potatoes are broadly grouped according to the average number of days needed to reach maturity (when tubers reach an edible size.) Different growers will use different classifications. Here are a few:

  • Very early earlies (early, early summer) — 75 days
  • Early (early summer) — 90 days
  • Mid or maincrop ( mid-summer) — 110 days
  • Maincrop to late maincrop (summer into autumn) — 135-160 days


Variety Days to Maturity Season Notes
All Red 100-120 Mid-late
Bintje 100-120 Late Heirloom
Butte 100-120 Late
Canela Russet 90-120 Late
Carola 90-120 Late
Catalina (true seed) 100-120 Mid-late
Chieftain 100-120 Mid-late
Desiree 95-100 Late
Fingerling Salad 100-120 Late
French Fingerling 90-120 Mid-late
German Butterball 100-120 Late
Gold Rush 90-120 Mid-late
Green Mountain 100-120 Late Heirloom
Ida Rose 95-100 Mid-late
Kennebec 100-120 Mid-late
Kerrs Pink 100-120 Mid-late Heirloom
King Harry 100-135 Late Heirloom
Purple Peruvian 110-135 Late
Purple Viking 100-120 Mid-late
Red Sangre 100-135 Mid-late
Rose Finn Apple 110-135 Mid-late
Russet Burbank 95-110 Mid-late
Russet Norkotah 95-110 Late
Russian Banana 100-120 Late Fingerling
Yellow Finn 95-100 Late
Yukon Gem 95-100 Mid-late


  • Washington State University
  • Oregon State University
  • Cornell Extension (extensive list)

Online sources of certified seed potatoes

  • Seed Savers Exchange
  • Johnny’s Select Seeds
  • Gurney’s
  • Irish Eyes Seed
  • Heirloom Acres Seed
  • Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes

Certified seed can also be purchased at local garden centers. Call for dates of arrival. Seed potatoes usually arrive too early for planting so need to be held until the time is right.

Easy DIY Potato Towers:


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Easy DIY potato towers are easy to make and have many advantages!
We have successfully grown potatoes in Easy DIY potato towers for a few years now. The video shows you how to layer the spuds in straw and soil in an easily constructed wire tube.

EASY DIY WIRE POTATO TOWERS! To make your tower just crimp the wire closed into a circle without a top or bottom. Then make your layers.

It’s also our Tuesday in the Garden Blog Hop! Please Check out all the blogs linked at the bottom of this post for DIY Garden projects you will love!


Growing potatoes is easy. For decades Dave planted potatoes in hills in our heavy clay garden. Potatoes grew ok in those hills; even in our horrible heavy clay soil.

BUT! There is a real downside to growing potatoes in the garden, unbound, so to speak. We can never harvest them all! No matter how hard we look: a couple of potatoes, some years a LOT of potatoes are left in the garden. They were scabby too. Most unappealing, especially late in the season.

The following spring, we had potato starts volunteering all over the place! When they started coming up in the raised beds, Dave decided to corral them in towers.

Easy DIY potato Towers have several Advantages over hilling a row of spuds in your garden.

Wire Potato Towers are easy to make, and easy to harvest! They are fantastic garden space savers! This is a sure fire way to bring in a potato harvest even if all you have for space is a sunny patio or flower bed! And most important of all; the potatoes are healthier!

We had no potato Scab the few years we’ve grown potatoes in wire towers. That’s why we are growing them this way again. So easy to move the towers each year to rotate the garden crops too! Harvest by digging your hands into the straw, pushing over the wire tower or lifting it up. All the spuds will be harvested. No strays. Handy towers!


First things first! Go find the potatoes you want to grow and wire tower materials. Our favorite potatoes to grow are red potatoes. This year Dave planted purple potatoes in one straw tower. Purple potatoes are more nutritious due to their deep purple color. We love growing them too! Purple potatoes have a nummy buttery flavor. They are delicious in Purple Potato Chorizo Burrito recipe.

Our harvested Purple Majesty Potatoes all cleaned up. Beautiful and very nutritious!

RULE OF THUMB! The darker the flesh and leaves of your veg the better they are for your health! Full of antioxidants! Here’s more on the nutritional value of the Purple Majesty Potato.

He bought our seed potatoes from the feed store. Your local food co-op may have some for sale, or the farmers market near you. He prepared the potatoes a full day before he built the towers and planted the spuds.

Preparing red potatoes for planting. Cut the potatoes into sections; each containing an eye. Allow to set for 24 hours to heal the cuts.

Prepping the Potatoes for planting:

Dave cut the larger potato into sections, each section had an ‘eye’. Which is the little tough sprout that will make a root. He set the cut potatoes on a paper towel to ‘heal up’ (dry the cut ends) for 24 hours. This is to avoid the cut potatoes rotting in the ground.

Purple Majesty Potatoes are so small they can be planted whole! Dave is planting the wire Easy DIY potato towers in these potatoes.

Really small potatoes, like the purple ones he bought, do not require cutting. The whole potato will nourish all the potato roots.

The potatoes are ready to plant. Time to make them a home!

Easy DIY potato towers just built and planted all in one afternoon! Sitting next to them are our Potato Barrels. Another excellent way to grow potatoes.

Notice behind Dave’s potato Tower is a row of blue half 55 gallon barrels. They are also planted in potatoes. Planting in Easy DIY potato barrels is another excellent space saving option for Potatoes.

Here’s a Video demonstration of How Dave made and planted our Potato Towers.


  • Approximately five foot length of four-foot high fencing wire. Any hole size will work.
  • Tools to bend and crimp wire. And extra wire or strong twine.
  • A fence post or other stable structure to wire the potato tower too
  • approximately one bale of straw


  • Dave used fencing wire he had lying around with 4 inch squares to form his towers. (His wire was old and beat up. Perfect for potato towers. Use what you have!)
    • Create a circle of the fencing wire about 4 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Wire the ends together to secure the circle.
  • Push straw against the outside wire a couple of inches thick and leave the middle hollow.
  • Next Layer straw on the ground a few inches thick.
  • Layer on about 6 inches of good growing dirt. (see Dave’s soil mix above)
    • Bury the cut potato sections in the soil.
    • Water the soil, but do NOT saturate it!
    • Layer 6 inches of straw over the planted soil.
    • Repeat this all the way up the tower.
    • Be sure the top of the tower is layered with straw! You want the potatoes protected from sunlight or they will go green.
    • Secure your potato towers! They will fall over in strong winds or unlevel ground. Dave wired his towers to a fence post.

Occasionally; thoroughly water your towers. Make sure to stick the nozzle through the sides so the bottom layers get water too! Adjust watering for your rainfall! And be careful! The potatoes in one of Dave’s wire potato towers rotted. He had to replant that tower!

Easy DIY Potato Tower-wire. This wire tower was easily assembled and planted in an afternoon 3 weeks ago. See the purple potato sprouting through the top and side wall of the potato tower? Lots more potatoes will grow out the sides. They will form a green mass of potato top growth from the lower layers of spuds!

The potato tops will start to die when the potatoes are ready for harvest. You can harvest a layer at a time from the top down. Or, if all the potatoes come ripe at once, pull the frame off and sift the dirt and straw for you spuds! 🙂

cut the tower away from its support

Tip the tower over and dig out the spuds

A few of our purple potatoes grown in the wire tower.

Easy DIY potato towers make a gardener’s life simpler. We like it like that!

Dave harvested these red potatoes from our three easy potato towers made from old wire he had laying around. We used them in my Potato Sausage Stir Fry. Yum!

OUR OTHER BLOG CONTRIBUTORS HAVE DIY PROJECT FOR YOU TOO! Don’t forget to stop by all the blogs in this blog hop to see what we all have been up too! Happy Gardening!

Simplify Live Love

Angie The Freckled Rose

An Oregon Cottage

Frugal Family Home


  • Potato towers are a form of extreme hilling that uses a structure to add a foot or more of soil above the seed tuber.
  • Towers are not a new idea, but they have only become popular in recent years.
  • Potatoes are normally hilled up about six inches, whether they are grown in the ground or in containers.
  • Hilling up much beyond six inches brings no benefits and is likely to reduce yield.
  • The purpose of hilling is not to stimulate production of tubers, but to protect the tubers from the environment.
  • Potato yield is primarily limited by foliage area, not by the amount of soil above the seed tuber.
  • Conventional container growing works fine with potatoes but potato towers don’t work.

You have probably read about potato towers somewhere on the Internet. The idea is immediately appealing: rather than strain your back growing potatoes in the ground, you can grow just one plant, but keep adding soil to it in layers to increase the yield. This is essentially extreme hilling, adding 12 to 30 inches or more of soil over the top of the seed piece instead of the more typical 4 to 6 inches. Each additional layer delivers roughly a doubling of the yield versus growing the plant in the ground. At the end of the season, you just take the tower apart and hundreds of pounds of perfect spuds tumble out at your feet. The only problem with this idea is that it isn’t true. You will find no research that supports this idea. You will also not find any photographic evidence that is not obviously faked. The claims about the physiological basis for this idea are totally wrong. Despite these limitations, the myth persists and grows stronger each year. A friend called the potato tower phenomenon “the single worst piece of gardening advice that you see frequently on the Internet,” and although the Internet is chock full of terrible gardening advice, I think he is probably right because towers require a substantial investment of time and material that brings no benefits. This post will take a look at the history of this idea and delve into the reasons why it simply doesn’t work.

Defining Failure

Before we go any further, I want to clarify exactly what I mean by “doesn’t work.” I always get some angry responses when I claim that towers don’t work. 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. I am saying that you won’t get better results with a tower than you can obtain under similar growing conditions without the additional levels of hilling. You will almost certainly get worse results with a tower if you do perform all that additional hilling. (Growing conditions vary, and in some climates it might still work out for you, but it will be success in spite of your efforts.) 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. 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.

Several people have asked, quite reasonably, how we could tell if a potato tower worked as described. I don’t want to get your hopes up, because there is really no possibility that you are going to find success with this, but it is still a useful exercise to imagine what it would look like. Per plant yields with elite potato varieties occasionally reach 10 pounds or more under perfect conditions. If a tower worked as described, it would be able to routinely exceed that threshold. 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. If you can show this kind of high yield, high tuber count combination and you can reproduce it reliably, you might have the first real tower potato. Just don’t invest your retirement savings in this project.

Where is the Research?

I get a lot of responses to this post and one question comes up again and again: where is the research that shows that potatoes don’t form additional levels of stolons? As far as I am aware, this has not been studied. There is a good reason for that. Nobody has observed a potato that grows this way. It is kind of like asking why there aren’t more studies showing which tomato varieties form tubers. Nobody has studied that because nobody has ever observed a tomato that makes tubers. Science usually starts with an observation. It would be better to ask if there is anybody who has documented a potato that does form multiple levels of stolons. This would be very easy. Just one picture would sort everyone out and almost certainly inspire further research. I have grown tens of thousands of potato plants, from hundreds of accessions, modern, Andean, and wild potatoes from the whole native range of the potato. I have never seen one that forms stolons in the way that is imagined in towers. I have also talked to many other people with similar experience who have never seen such a thing. You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist, but you can prove that it does. I leave it to boosters of the potato tower to demonstrate a variety that behaves in the manner claimed.

From Tires to Towers

As far as I can tell, the potato tower began with the idea of growing potatoes in tires. Somebody realized that you could achieve the necessary hilling quite easily by putting a potato on the ground and then filling up the tire with soil. That works very nicely. I’m sure it didn’t take long before someone decided to add a second tire, then a third, and the tower was born. I’m not sure how far back that idea goes, but I’m guessing that just about as long as there have been tires, there have been people trying to grow stuff in them. I can find references to growing potatoes in tires going back to the 1970s. References to towers don’t go that far back, but some structures that we would now call potato towers do. The most notable of these is a potato tower patent from 1976, from which I lifted the image above. While the patent predates the term “potato tower,” all the elements are there and the illustration does an admirable job showing a kind of potato growth that has never been captured on photo or video. One of the most fascinating parts of the potato tower phenomenon is how little people are deterred by its lack of reality. There is more than one patent for potato towers and hundreds of articles, both in print and on-line. A lot of work went into writing all that material, but apparently no testing. That’s pretty remarkable.

The term “potato tower” first started to show up on the Internet on Usenet in the 1990s, but it wasn’t a common term. Through the 1990s, there are more than a hundred mentions of growing potatoes in tires for every mention of potato towers. Potato towers came into the Internet consciousness in 2006 and really started to take off in 2012. Google Trends shows the frequency of these search terms over time:

So, fewer people are searching for information about growing potatoes in tires, but more people are looking for information about potato towers. While spring searches for the term peaked in 2013, the overall amount of searches year-round have been pretty constant. It doesn’t look like the potato tower myth is ready to die out on its own, unfortunately.

The Irish Eyes Type Box

Image: Seattle Times Mar. 9 2009

For the first few years, the idea shows up primarily in forums and personal blogs, but starting about 2005, it began to creep into magazines and newspapers as well. One frequently cited article from the Seattle Times in 2005 (followed by a more popular recycled version in 2009) promises 100 pounds of potatoes in four square feet. This idea traces back to Irish Eyes, a seed potato supplier, and appeared in newspapers across the country over several years. In fairness, the article reports that someone who tried it produced only 25 pounds. Assuming that they planted one tuber per square foot, that would be a yield of 6.25 pounds. That’s on the high side vs. the typical field yield, but still well within the possibilities for growing potatoes in the ground. This is one of the common results that you see with towers: people are very impressed with the yield, even though it is not any better than they could have expected if they grew plants in the ground with the same level of attention.

Other than being taller than necessary, the Irish Eyes box (see right) is a reasonable enough design and the yield promises are not impossible, although few people are likely to achieve them. By allowing the plants to grow out over the sides of a 4 square foot box, you can really expand the foliage area to around 16 square feet. (But bear in mind that you could easily grow 16 to 20 plants in 16 square feet of ground.) 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. 100 pounds divided by thirteen plants gives 7.7 pounds per plant. That is a great yield but, again, one that can certainly be achieved growing in the ground, everything else being equal. 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. That would be 6.2 pounds per plant, still a great yield, but well within reason.

Image: Irish Eyes via The Seattle Times

The interesting thing about this design is that it is much more elaborate than it needs to be. There is no reason to build it up so high. The multiple levels would lead you to believe that what happens inside the box will look a lot like the patent illustration at the beginning, with tubers forming at every level of the box. That just doesn’t happen. If you grow a potato like this, when you dig it up, you are going to find a very long stem and a cluster of tubers at about the level that you planted the seed piece. This is really just an unusually tall planter. You could do as well with a container of the same area that is only about a foot tall.

The Modern Myth

I think that we have found the origin of the modern potato tower concept, but it had not yet reached the point of unbelievability So, when did this thing go fully fraudulent? It is actually pretty hard to pin it down. Starting in 2009, there were hundreds of blogs and articles per year about potato towers, offering a spectrum of variations on the story. I read dozens of these articles and I would have to do a lot more work to establish the timeline. It isn’t worth the effort. One thing that I feel pretty confident about though is that most people did not set out to tell a tall tale (so to speak). This story evolved over time, with people adding a few details here and there that they thought plausible. 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. 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). An hour of research on the Internet provided a ratio of these types of articles of 74 : 11 : 9 : 2.

Peak absurdity usually comes with commercialization. I particularly like this tower that shows potatoes in the bottom and a plant growing out the top that is clearly not a potato. Photo: Walmart

The tower story has gotten a lot more refined over the years. 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. These enhancements sound good. They also might convince you that, if your tower didn’t really work, it is because you didn’t do it right. It isn’t your failure though. The whole idea is wrong.

Potatoes Just Don’t Grow Like That

We could spend a lot more time looking into the origins of the potato tower, but let’s cut to the chase. Potato towers don’t work any better than growing in containers or growing in the ground, all else being equal. All else being equal means that they get the same kind of soil fertility, the same soil temperature, the same amount of water and drainage, the same amount of soil coverage, and the same level of defense against pests. Often, it is easier to achieve these things in a container, although sometimes the opposite is true.

There are two insurmountable problems with the potato tower concept:

  • Tuber production is limited by foliage area.
  • Almost no potatoes produce additional stolons past the first few nodes above the seed piece.

We could dispense with this idea based only on the relationship between foliage area and the total energy budget of the plant. The main function of a plant’s foliage is to collect energy. That energy is converted to sugars and moved into the body of the plant for storage. This is where tubers come from. They are little balls of captured energy and water. Evolution does not allow for slackers. Plants have evolved to fully use the capacity of their leaves to capture and store energy. There is no excess energy for the plant to use to form more tubers, no matter how many stolons that you might convince it to produce. 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). If you want more yield, you need more foliage. Nobody claims that towers produce more foliage though.

The other problem is that potatoes simply don’t produce an endless number of stolons. Stolons are formed from the first few nodes above the seed piece and rarely any higher. Hilling up in excess of six inches is a waste of time and effort and only makes the plant work harder. The reason for hilling is not to make the plants form more tubers but to ensure that the tubers are covered by soil. Tubers need to be covered to protect them from pests, diseases, and sunlight, which will turn them green and increase the content of toxic glycoalkaloids. Plants will often survive extreme hilling, but you aren’t doing them any favors; they have to pump photosynthate and water farther, which costs the plant energy. The greater depth of soil can also be a barrier to water reaching the roots.

A mythology has been built around the idea of the indeterminate potato as the solution to the tower problem. Indeterminate potatoes do not produce stolons in a different way than determinate potatoes do. Potatoes form all the incipient stolons that will become tubers in the two to six weeks following emergence. While determinate potatoes form a certain amount of foliage, flower, and then die back, indeterminates continue to branch and flower for a much longer period of time. The tubers and the total yield are often larger, but this is simply a result of the plant having more foliage area and more time to grow.

It is possible that these problems could be overcome through breeding. Some wild potatoes set stolons over a larger number of nodes and also can form very long and sometimes branching stolons. These might be convinced to grow through a larger vertical space. Potato plants also vary considerably in size and a much larger plant would be able to collect more energy. In combination, these traits might make for a potato that would behave more in line with the tower potatoes that have been imagined. Even if it is possible though, it doesn’t seem like a very practical investment. The great thing about potatoes is that they are simple to grow. And cheap too. Why make it complicated and expensive? A simple container or raised bed, filled with quality soil, amended and watered appropriately, can deliver heavy yields of potato along with the other benefits attributed to towers such as easier management and harvest.

Potato towers don’t work. They never did and they probably never will. No doubt, the idea will persist on the Internet as long as people still grow potatoes, which will probably be a very long time.

Have you tried a potato tower? If so, leave a comment and let the world know how it worked for you.

More Information

The Low Technology Institute is studying several different potato growing methods this year, including towers. If you are interested in this subject, you might want to follow along.

Nathan Pierce, an admin with the Kenosha Potato Project experimented with towers for several years and documented the process at Tomatoville with lots of pictures.

With Spring around the corner, it’s the perfect time to begin planting and growing vegetables. One vegetable staple everyone should try growing is the potato!

If you like growing vegetables organically and have limited space, then here’s everything you need to know to grow your own potatoes in a potato tower. By building a wire tower filled with straw and dirt and seed potatoes, you’ll have a bountiful harvest by the end of summer!

For the project you need 4 fence posts, 8′ section of wire fencing, about 4′ high, wire snips and pliers, bale of straw, compost or bags of dirt, seed potatoes. Make sure you erect it in a sunny spot as potatoes like lots of sun to grow.

Laurie Ashbach walks through the process of building and tending to a potato tower in the video below. Once creating a cylinder with the fence, you’ll fill it with hay and then dirt and pieces of potato.
Laurie used 2 pounds of potatoes (around 8 medium potatoes with 4 eyes each), which she cut into into pieces so that she had 36 eyes in total to plant. She put 9 eyes around the outside edge of the “nest” in four layers. On the top layer she planted the eyes right in the middle so they could grow up.

Once the potato tower is built, you simply water it over the summer and let the harvest fall out of the opened fence in the fall. And best of all no weeding is required.

Easiest Potato Growing Method Ever!

Easiest Potato Growing Method Ever!

Dare I say that this is one of THE easiest vegi’s to grow? Potatoes are a simple crop to maintain and are perfect for container or small space gardens.

In this post we will discuss how to build a potato cage, also known as potato bins or towers. This method of planting allows for the plant to grow vertically and produce tubers along it’s stolons ( or underground stems).

Not all potatoes are equal.

Without getting too deep into it, there are determinate types and indeterminate types….like tomatoes. Basically, early types, like Yukon Gold will only grow in one layer requiring a small hill. Main crops or later varieties like Russets, typically are indeterminate and can be forced to grow ‘up’ in bins, towers or potato cages. Check out this eHow article for some good choices.

Let’s start digging shall we?

Simply decide where you are going to build your tower in the garden. I chose at the end of two rows in my veggie bed. I loosened the soil of the spot about 2′ across then piled on rich compost to form a mound.

I laid the potatoes with their ‘eyes’ outward facing and then wrapped the mound with green plastic fencing. To keep it in place I weaved bamboo stakes through the fence mesh into the ground.

I’ve seen all sorts of wood slat bins, bamboo screens, chicken wire etc. The problem I see in some of these methods is that they can be way over built.

We will be using straw not soil in our cages so we won’t have a weight issue to deal with. I have been using the same three pieces of green plastic fencing for years, no staples, nails or zap straps….just a few pieces of bamboo to hold them together. (Reason #37 to always have bamboo stakes on hand).

My fencing pieces are about 6′ long x 3.5′ wide, I simply create a circle around the seed potatoes then weave a bamboo stake through the meeting point driving it into the ground. Four stakes in each cage like this and you have a stable self supporting potato growing bin.

I’ll let these grow taller and every week or so I will start to add handfuls of straw around the stems. The key here is to make sure that developing tubers are not exposed to direct sunlight. I’m sure most of you are aware that green potatoes are toxic due to glycoalkaloids that can accumulate just under the skin.

Hay vs Straw

Hay is considered ‘green’ feed as it is harvested with it’s seed heads still intact. It’s components include grasses, grains and clover. This is NOT what you want as it’s seeds are viable and can spread through your garden.

Straw is what is harvested after the seed heads are removed….this is great mulching and composting material.

Generally when you see the flowers, that means there’s baby tubers growing below….ahhh. You can dig a few of these tasty new potatoes out by sliding your cage up on the bamboo stakes and reaching into the straw below. Be careful not to damage the stolons though, all those pea sized potatoes are the following months harvest.

After your plants have died back, leave the potatoes for a couple more weeks before harvesting them. This period will allow the skins to toughen up for storing.

Harvesting is as easy as pulling out the bamboo stakes and sifting through the straw to find all your tasty taters. Throw the straw into your compost or use it to mulch your perennial beds. It’s a great cover for your fall bulbs too.

Final note about crop rotation…Moving your crops on 3 year cycles is imperative in the prevention of diseases accumulating in the soil. Another good reason is the balance of nutrient fixing and depleting.

Wikipedia explains it like this:

Growing the same crop in the same place for many years in a row disproportionately depletes the soil of certain nutrients. With rotation, a crop that leaches the soil of one kind of nutrient is followed during the next growing season by a dissimilar crop that returns that nutrient to the soil or draws a different ratio of nutrients.

May your summers be long and your crops be big!

Peace Love Garden


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