I guess instinctively I new it wouldn’t work. The topic of growing potatoes in containers is pretty complicated, which is why I didn’t go into detail. Except only stupid people are building a tower for one plant. Factual. Nobody has studied that because nobody has ever observed a tomato that makes tubers. And cheap too. Potatoes store well in the ground except when conditions are wet or overly warm. My father recommended this specifically for more stability for a transplanted tomato plant, to prevent the stem from breaking on a top-heavy purchased plant, not to increase production on a plant. There are several ways to do this. I follow your ooints on towers and I have arrived at the same conclusion myself when researching on this topic. Feb 24, 2018 - Explore Peggy Hendrix's board "Potato towers" on Pinterest. Therefore, if one uses a tower and really aggressively fills it up so the plant has, say, two feet of fill before it is allowed to grow tall and flower, perhaps — PERHAPS — the stem could produce tubers up that entire length. Potato Towers, Bins and Containers. I used to wait until it was time to plant, but we have a short growing season where … Evaluation of USDA Andean Potato Accessions, There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, Low Technology Institute is studying several different potato growing methods, https://lowtechinstitute.org/2018/12/04/potatoes-five-ways-a-trial-looking-at-different-potato-growing-methods/, https://lowtechinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/moses-poster-scottjohnson.pdf, The Poor Man's Potato Tower | Mind Your Dirt, A Change to Our International Shipping Policy (Again), Crossing Between Solanum maglia and Domesticated Diploid Potatoes (Part 2), Potato Viruses in Certified and Non-certified Tubers, Crossing Between Solanum maglia and Domesticated Diploid Potatoes (Part 1), The Practicality of Diploid Potatoes in North America, Potato Onion (Allium cepa var. It is going to find a way to send shoots upward against gravity and roots downward with gravity, no matter what you do. My First Vegetable Garden – A New Course Offered by University of Guelph Arboretum. Sometimes we never added the second tire and only added dirt. Yes, it sounds like some "Ronco" product (or a Saturday Night Live skit), but the concept sounded appealing. In normal planting, potatoes are spaced out along a row and rows are reasonably far apart. While early/determinate varieties form a certain amount of foliage, flower, and then die back, late/indeterminate varieties continue to branch and flower for a much longer period of time. My goal in using the towers is to grow more vertically due to my limited garden space. The advantage of a tuber is that it has lots of energy to keep pushing up a sprout through as much soil as necessary, where a tiny seed would eventually be exhausted. 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). Plants dry out more rapidly in the tower or pot method, so monitor the watering closely. It is much easier to grow potatoes in the ground, but if you don’t have good soil, this is certainly a viable option. The problem is that most gardeners grow early and mid-season potatoes, which only make new potatoes at ground level. 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. The other problem is that potatoes simply don’t produce an endless number of stolons. I suspect I am not the outlier who is going to magically succeed at this so now I will simply have a lot of useless dirt and a normal (hopefully) crop of potatoes. I was set to build a potato tower until finding this article. The most notable of these is a potato tower patent from 1976, from which I lifted the image above. Potato plants are similar to tomatoes except that the eatable portion, the tubers, grow under ground. Have you tried a potato tower? They never did and they probably never will. Check out other posts about growing potatoes and share some of you own in the links below. Some experiments on Youtube bear out what you say; they get a layer of spuds at the bottom, a lot of empty soil in the middle and then foliage out the top. Potatoes naturally form their tubers just below or even at the surface of the soil, with stolons also running just beneath the surface and often emerging to form new satellite plants. Yes, both rodents and excessive moisture probably played a part in my poor harvest from the mulching bed. Potato towers made from wood, built by craftthyme.com. Short and concise. I’ve updated the p[ost to make mine clearer. I am not discussing that type of tower here. The tire warmed up during the day. I thought you were supposed to plant a new seed tater at every level, not that they were going to spontaneously generate new tubers just because you covered them in dirt. When night time temperatures exceed 68F (20C), tuber growth is reduced, and it stops above 84F (29C).”. Gloves Wire cutters Straw Soil Seed potatoes Water. 100 pounds divided by thirteen plants gives 7.7 pounds per plant. Great article, but I still wanted to try the experiment myself; https://youtu.be/gcQ3whdBpCI I’m looking forward to comparing results from the 3 experiments. I’ll do a side-by-side comparison with traditional in-ground planting. Optimal tuber set takes place with a night soil temperature of around 55F (13C). 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. Potato towers are just large containers that have all the soil above ground. Screw the decking board to the 2×4’s. That shows that hilling is protective. Nobody claims that towers produce more foliage though. But if you take the aggregate of these videos you quickly realize nobody is producing a lot of potatoes using towers. If you go to YouTube you will find many videos about potato towers. I have tried to grow potatoes in a tower three times. The term “potato tower” first started to show up on the Internet on Usenet in the 1990s, but it wasn’t a common term. Traditionally, plants are grown for a few weeks, and then soil is hilled up around the plant. Indeterminate (late) potatoes do not form tubers in a different way than determinate (early/mid) potatoes. I think its also worth mentioning how much hotter and drier the soil is going to be in a tower vs in ground, and how much potatoes hate to have their root systems at high temps. What amazed me was that I got potatoes from bottom to top, at 44 inches from the ground !The biggest of them were situated near the surface and were even turning green due to sun exposure. Kristina says. From 3 pounds of seed potatoes. Hilling up much beyond six inches brings no benefits and is likely to reduce yield. Optimal tuber set takes place with a night temperature of around 55F (13C). I’d very much love to connect with you and talk more if you’re keen. Your suggestions will have me doing the work where the plant needs it; not on my misled expectations. These might be convinced to grow through a larger vertical space. 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. Commercial potting soil also works well. The roots are sometimes formed deep in the soil in order to achieve the maximum level of protection from the elements. In this article, I show two potato tower methods side by side. One pound of large potato seed stock may yield up to 10 pounds and one pound of fingerlings up to 20 pounds. I even noticed that the seed level was relatively dry, this as a result negatively impact my yield. This is really just an unusually tall planter. 6″ of soil has done that for gardeners and farmers for several hundred years. The evidence is clear. Then do … You only get potatoes in the bottom 6 inches, which is what I got. I started with planting the potato starts in the tire. andigenum), Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) and Relatives, Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) and Relatives. This would be very easy. 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. You can see the results on my blog. But I gave up because of voles - I think I need to modify using the garbage can method to thwart them. Provided each set of plants has its own container, this should work. You will also not find any photographic evidence that is not obviously faked. The cages are super easy to make, and during the hot summer, when I don’t use them for potatoes I am going to use them to support peppers. I do indeed have hard rocky beds. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. My question is whether or not other Andean root crops e.g. I read dozens of these articles and I would have to do a lot more work to establish the timeline. 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. It stands to reason that if a small hill produces a good crop, a bigger hill will produce a bigger crop. Growing in containers might seem like the same technique, but it is significantly different. In fairness, the article reports that someone who tried it produced only 25 pounds. 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). Each piece contains one or more eyes, the growing points on a potato. Sweet potatoes don’t really grow in this climate, so I am not an expert on the subject. :(. After all, humans have been growing them for hundreds of years so we do know something about them. 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. Nothing else, no miracle. The Cooperative Extension System is a great idea – bringing growers into contact with scientific experts to get the best possible information. ;) ). 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. And then there is the deluxe solution where you build a square wooden structure as pictured above. I too fell into the “tater-tower trap” that is so pushed all over the internet. The most important part is placing the tower in full sun. You will almost certainly get worse results with a tower if you do perform all that additional hilling. 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. I don’t know that I would call anyone stupid for following widespread advice that many people swear is effective. Notice that the wood sides can be inserted, one above the other, as the plant gets taller. Nathan Pierce, a moderator for the Kenosha Potato Project, 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. After I tipped over the tower, I had only long stems, a handle full of potatoes at the seed level. Watch our project unfold — and see how you can make these simple potato towers, too. Biil and everybody ! There are several studies that conclude that hilling increases the marketable yield of tubers, but not the total yield. I dreamed all the time that my tower is filling up with potatoes. Not your readers. There is another kind of tower, made of wire mesh, where the plants grow out the sides. As I mention in the article, insofar as a tower is a container, they work fine. September 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm. So, I would like a clarification regarding one of your paragraphs: “Potatoes are cool season crops that like cool, moist conditions when tubers are forming. Mid to late season varieties work best in potato towers. It never grows deeper into the soil. It is actually pretty hard to pin it down. In the end I find that a potato tower is a little bit of a flop. 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: We could dispense with this idea based only on the relationship between foliage area and the total energy budget of the plant. That doesn’t appear to have made much of a dent though. The lack of leaves results in very little food being produced, which in turn results in few or small potatoes. I stacked another tire and more dirt as things grew taller. This topic is well understood. Dear Mr. Pavis: Your information is invaluable, and you have taught me so much. I had been interested in the towers, to cope with limited garden space but also to avoid a lot of fruitless digging for that last potato. Thanks to reading and learning from your enlightening research, I have since cut my towers in half (now 18″ tall) and just planted my potatoes a few weeks ago…anxious to see the difference this year. Late season alternatives to yukon gold are Yellow Fin and Binjte. Required fields are marked *. Every time I added soil or straw, about a half of the greens would rot! What you need: Field fencing 4 ft wide; Straw (not hay) Compost or garden soil; Seed potatoes (about 2 lbs per tower) What Varieties of Potatoes Work Best in Towers? I’m sure it didn’t take long before someone decided to add a second tire, then a third, and the tower was born. Square Box Vertical Potato Tower – This is another version of this method! Nutrient Density – Can it be Measured With a Brix Refractometer? 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. You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist, but you can prove that it does. Apr 10, 2019 - Ever wondered about growing potatoes in towers? I leave it to boosters of the potato tower to demonstrate a variety that behaves in the manner claimed. 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. :) Diane. Reply. 22.5 pounds from 5 plants is 4.5 pounds per plant, which is a good yield, but one that is fairly easy to achieve in good garden soil with sufficient fertility. I did not obtain the 100 lbs promised but let’s say a fair 22.5 lbs from 5 small potato planted. “Thank you” isn’t enough but will have to suffice for now! Some wild potatoes set stolons over a larger number of nodes and also can form very long and sometimes branching stolons. The Potato Tower! Potatoes produce the most tubers when grown cool and moist. These are horizontal stems that grow for a while and then form the new potato at their ends. I wish I red this article before hand. This article explains much of what the benefits are to this method of growing. The Tower Materials. 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? Which method do you think will work better (the tower or the center of the hay bales)? The Low Technology Institute is studying several different potato growing methods this year, including towers. The key to getting a lot of large tubers is to grow lots of leaves. Admittedly, I did not find any that were very scientific, but some do have a control, usually comparing pots to towers. Left to its own devices, a potato plant spreads horizontally, forming a combination of secondary plants and tubers. If you want more yield, you need more foliage. I have also talked to many other people with similar experience who have never seen such a thing. Natural Weed Killers – Do Organic Herbicides Work? Per plant yields with elite potato varieties occasionally reach 10 pounds or more under perfect conditions. These potatoes will make additional rhizomes higher on the stem; as high as one foot above the seed potato. That means their soil gets hotter and drier than the same soil in the ground. Perennial plants often form large storage roots as a reserve. I had been using these 36″ tall towers for the last five years and generally speaking would only average fifteen pounds per container. One of the most fascinating parts of the potato tower phenomenon is how little people are deterred by its lack of reality. You want the board to just reach the outer edges of each of the 2×4’s. The tower system will ONLY work with indeterminates. Thanks for the article. Gosh Darnit, why didn’t I see this article before I wasted time, money and materials making a fricking potato tower!? The great thing about potatoes is that they are simple to grow. Mar 3, 2017 - How well do potato towers work? And cheap too. Give the stem more height to grow and it will, increasing the space for stolons and thus tubers. 21 Common Indoor Plant Myths – That Save You Time and Money. Early and mid-season potatoes don’t do this at all – no matter how tall the tower is. Without getting too technical, a potato tower that is working correctly will be covered in green, from base to top. Several Extension articles that I have reviewed on this subject were written by people who clearly did not have experience with potato towers or much experience growing potatoes for that matter. This means that more of the tubers are in good condition for sale. Plants have evolved to fully use the capacity of their leaves to capture and store energy. 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. In this article, I show two potato tower methods side by side. There is more than one patent for potato towers and hundreds of articles, both in print and on-line. Through the 1990s, there are more than a hundred mentions of growing potatoes in tires for every mention of potato towers. Growing Potatoes in Potato Towers . What will some gardeners fall for next? 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. At the end of the season, you have a large hill chocked full of potatoes – or at least that is the dream. The blog is written in french but you can look at the pictures. These types of potatoes will continue to set more potatoes over a longer … 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. An old guy told me to bury the tomato deep n keep adding soil. Unfortunately, it is also not what it used to be and a large number of articles published by local Extension groups are written by non-experts. Thanks. Our towers were built out of poultry netting. The tower story has gotten a lot more refined over the years. Do they grow the same way? That just doesn’t happen. Thank you your two very detailed comments. Growing potatoes in towers will save a lot of room in your garden, and they are easy to build and maintain. 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. In field agriculture, these crops are typically hilled, ridged in the same way as potatoes. There are two approaches to finding out if potato towers actually work. 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. You get a huge trunk n more tomatoes. Time to get dirty and find out if potato towers really work! Stolons are formed from the first few nodes above the seed piece and rarely any higher. You can go to YouTube and see dozens of clips of people excited to empty their tower, tall trash can, bin or barrel of potatoes. Maybe this article will help you make the final decision about whether or not to plant your potatoes in a tower.Good luck! in my opinion, the benefit of making such towers is not to stimulate production of tubers, but mainly to protect the tubers from the environment. His tower didn’t allow … Hi Bill, We’ve completed the research and guess what: the towers didn’t work in our controlled study! I actually found a great source and plans on growing a square wooden potato tower from the Seattle Times. They can destruct a potato hill in no time! Add Tip Ask Question Comment Download. While this is going on the main stem is growing taller and making lots of leaves. Then there is other type of video, by real gardeners, that show you the end result. In order to answer this question we have to define what we mean by ‘working’. 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. Sweet potatoes are grown from rooted sprouts as opposed to planted eyes. This depends largely on your climate, but I suspect that most people would find growing in wire cages difficult. As far as I’m concerned, if potato towers do not give you a higher yield, they don’t work. They are little balls of captured energy and water. Potato roots from a potato tower showing no roots or rhizomes along the buried stems, photo by Dan Rogers. Explore. (Although I am not Curzio. 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. Growing potatoes in the traditional method (in the ground) resulted, at least in my case, in higher yields that the towers did. You could do as well with a container of the same area that is only about a foot tall. Perhaps our poster is useful: https://lowtechinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/moses-poster-scottjohnson.pdf. Each additional layer delivers roughly a doubling of the yield versus growing the plant in the ground. Happy planting! That is the opposite of what many people who are trying towers want, making the vast majority of commercial potato varieties very poor for deep containers. Potatoes are annual plants. The total yield is generally the same though. I could see that the burying of any of the vines or leaves was just destructive. And I visited a nearby permaculture project with the same experience, so ‘innovation’ is not always helpful. Jan 9, 2017 - Here is how to easily make your own potato towers. Mid to late season varieties work best in potato towers. Can you write about potato bags and what you recommend? 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. The tubers only grew in one layer of soil as you described and adding soil would generally hinder the growth of vegetation. This does not work either. Apr 29, 2018 - Ever wondered about growing potatoes in towers? Lots to the efforts that fail do this. The premise behind this technique is that potatoes produce tubers all along the stem. Potato towers have the advantage of growing potatoes in a small space (instead of letting the plants sprawl) and as the potatoes grow up, there is more space for tubers to form. When the seed potatoes are covered with soil, they start making … Start one tower in spring to have potatoes through the summer, another in the summer to last until autumn, and a final one in late summer to get you through to early winter. So, while tubers can act as a reserve, particularly while a new plant is getting established, they are primarily a reproductive structure. I did some research into the towers over the year and I think I figured out a way that I could force them to work, but I have to test this out this year. For the math challenged, that means that I grew 3.25 pounds of potatoes. They terraced valleys from top to bottom, built canals to carry water through the mountains, and possibly even built agricultural experiment stations. This explains what I’d already learned the hard way! But the main feature of towers – putting on additional levels of soil – definitely doesn’t help. The great thing about potatoes is that they are simple to grow. videos and took a clip from it because Dan Rogers took the time to have a close look at the vines. It is not as obviously incompatible with potato anatomy, but it seems most people don’t have great results. One pound of large potato seed stock may yield up to 10 … So, many people have what they consider to be good results in towers, but that doesn’t mean that they would not have better results, with less effort and expense, by leaving out the additional levels of the tower. Potatoes are cool season crops that like cool, moist conditions when tubers are forming. There were a lot of factors that contributed to my lack of success. I study how well vines grow tubers vertically (almost 10 years now)! I therefore went on and tried to build one. I only had to purchase 1-10 foot roll of hardware mesh/cloth and seed potatoes… See more ideas about Growing food, Veggie garden, Growing vegetables. They formed the backbone of Andean agriculture and the native peoples of the Andes were no slouches, as attested to by their massive earthworks. Your email address will not be published. If you are interested in this subject, you might want to follow along. If you grow a taller stem and surround it with soil you will get a lot of potatoes. This story evolved over time, with people adding a few details here and there that they thought plausible. If you have a potato that produced stolons over a vertical foot of stem, please take a picture! It is so dry here that rot is rarely something to worry about, and pots and grow bags can dry out in less than a day, but rot is essentially what happened. So glad I found this article. 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). These enhancements sound good and they might convince you that, if your tower didn’t really work, it is because you didn’t do it right. Thanks for the very informative article. The container is simply used to provide good soil for growth. Potato towers don’t work. 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