do potato towers work

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. That’s very helpful information. Potato towers made from wood, built by craftthyme.com. The greater depth of soil can also be a barrier to water reaching the roots. Explore. They set tubers in a single location, and at a single depth (both of which vary by variety). Plants have evolved to fully use the capacity of their leaves to capture and store energy. First, as you probably know, potatoes form on “runners” that are put out during the third phase of growth (same time as the flowers). As noted in the article, you can grow perfectly good potatoes in a tower, you just can’t expect to grow more than you would in the ground if the soil were of the same quality. If you go to YouTube you will find many videos about potato towers. This explains what I’d already learned the hard way! Anyone who understands photosynthesis will see an obvious flaw in this system. My experiments with growing under straw have produced more voles than tubers. Add extra tires or pieces of wood to hold the soil around the plant. We've tried it several times and have results to help you decide if potato towers are right for you! Despite these limitations, the myth persists and grows stronger each year. I get about 11 lbs. I am however wondering whether planting seed at different levels of the tower would make sens. I have grown potatoes in tires before. Thank you so much for good informations and experiences on potato tower. I was going to build a tower today. I’m guessing you recommend containers that hold moisture but with good drainage? 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. Perhaps our poster is useful: https://lowtechinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/moses-poster-scottjohnson.pdf. Mid to late season varieties work best in potato towers. 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. Indeterminate (late) potatoes do not form tubers in a different way than determinate (early/mid) potatoes. If the discussion is about flowering and fruiting above ground it should be air temperature. Potato plants also vary considerably in size and a much larger plant would be able to collect more energy. When do you get started on your vegetable garden each spring? If you are interested in this subject, you might want to follow along. The most notable of these is a potato tower patent from 1976, from which I lifted the image above. Late-season potatoes do this a bit, but only in the one foot above the seed potato. Potatoes are annual plants. If the soil in the tower gets too hot, they stop making tubers. 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. Error message: "The request cannot be completed because you have exceeded your, Copyright © 2020 Garden Myths | Apr 29, 2018 - Ever wondered about growing potatoes in towers? The potatoes inside the hay did the best. This post will take a look at the history of this idea and delve into the reasons why it simply doesn’t work. But the fact is, other than not taking up precious space in the garden, they don’t have a lot of advantages. Miracle-Gro Orchid Plant Food Mist – Huge Fertilizer Ripoff, Ginkgo Biloba Tree Myths – The Maidenhair Tree, Plants Don’t Produce Oxygen (O2) From Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Understanding Soil – A New Course Offered by Mother Earth News, Neem Oil Insecticide and Fungicide For Plants, Increasing Humidity for Indoor Plants – What Works and What Doesn’t, The Myth of Growing High Nutrient Density Food, LED Grow Lights - Getting the Right Color Spectrum, Eggshells - How Not to Use Them in the Garden, The Magical Power of Banana Peels in The Garden - Or Not, 18 LED Grow Light Myths You Should Know About, Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society. People who are interested in towers should really check out the KPP, because growing in bags offers a lot of the same benefits but without the hyperbole. And cheap too. Potato towers are reported to grow 100 pounds of potatoes in 4 sq ft of space. It explained all the struggles the plants seemed to be going through as I proceeded with the directions for potato towers. The roots are sometimes formed deep in the soil in order to achieve the maximum level of protection from the elements. 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. 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. Pingback: The Poor Man's Potato Tower | Mind Your Dirt. What will some gardeners fall for next? “Thank you” isn’t enough but will have to suffice for now! Here's how it works: The plant grows and its stem lengthens, as do the underground stolons from which the tubers grow. 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. I’m not an expert on growing in bags, but Curzio Caravati of the Kenosha Potato Project has done quite a bit of experimenting with this. Thanks. We chose to re-purpose some items from around the yard (hence the chicken wire). 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 have tried to grow potatoes in a tower three times. There is more than one patent for potato towers and hundreds of articles, both in print and on-line. The theory is that potatoes will be formed all along the stem, filling the full height of the tower. Then do … 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. Half of the tower is always going to be shaded, so that further restricts the yield. This means that more of the tubers are in good condition for sale. My goal in using the towers is to grow more vertically due to my limited garden space. Which method do you think will work better (the tower or the center of the hay bales)? Stolons are formed from the first few nodes above the seed piece and rarely any higher. Potato towers don’t work any better than growing in containers or growing in the ground, all else being equal. Four tires seems to be a popular height. The main problem with this design is that it is much more elaborate than it needs to be. More appealing was the supposed fact that you could get up to 100 lbs of potatoes from one 3' x 3' tower. All of the rhizomes and potatoes are at or near ground level. For that matter, you can build a potato tower on a concrete patio or driveway, or over an area of soil too rocky to till. This would be very easy. I will NEVER again do a potato tower. 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. 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 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. As a rookie, last summer I was excited with the idea of making a miracle harvest with a potatoes tower. Potato plants are similar to tomatoes except that the eatable portion, the tubers, grow under ground. Home » Home » Gardening » Potato Towers, Bins and Containers. These towers keep warm and moist up until November — meaning you can feed your family even longer. 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. I’ve got a full write-up of the different methods here: https://lowtechinstitute.org/2018/12/04/potatoes-five-ways-a-trial-looking-at-different-potato-growing-methods/ Feel free to use this any way you like as long as we’re cited. You only get potatoes in the bottom 6 inches, which is what I got. If you like this post, please share ....... Error type: "Forbidden". 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. With great anticipation the grower will spread a tarp out in front of their tower, eager to post their harvest of a bushel basket of spuds. For seed germination and anything happening under ground it should be soil temperature. My last veggie garden was back around 2000. That doesn’t appear to have made much of a dent though. 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. They can destruct a potato hill in no time! You will find no research that supports this idea. (short season in Alaska). 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. Square Box Vertical Potato Tower – This is another version of this method! It will still make a fine planter. And then there is the deluxe solution where you build a square wooden structure as pictured above. At the end of the summer, we tipped over the tire and looked for potatoes. Hilling up in excess of six inches is a waste of time and effort and only makes the plant work harder. Per plant yields with elite potato varieties occasionally reach 10 pounds or more under perfect conditions. Many tubers were attached directly on the stem, especially those near the top. 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 do indeed have hard rocky beds. Natural potato behavior aside, vines may tolerate being covered, but they sure don’t seem to like it! 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. I therefore went on and tried to build one. Cheers! 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. My question is whether or not other Andean root crops e.g. Some innovative work by a small entrepreneur in the UK (Henley Potato Tower) has found that the key to towering potatoes is a combination of the following: A few high quality seed potatoes and good soil (don’t scrimp). Can you write about potato bags and what you recommend? The Cooperative Extension System is a great idea – bringing growers into contact with scientific experts to get the best possible information. 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. Without getting too technical, a potato tower that is working correctly will be covered in green, from base to top. 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). Evolution does not allow for slackers. Roughly 15% more. It doesn’t look like the potato tower myth is ready to die out on its own, unfortunately. I will try again this year, however, and I’ll weigh the production to get some numbers for you. Yes, both rodents and excessive moisture probably played a part in my poor harvest from the mulching bed. IF you don’t do this, the plant will not get enough energy to yield. For those who don’t know, you need late-season potatoes for towers or bags to do much. I have also talked to many other people with similar experience who have never seen such a thing. All my attempts at regular and sweet potatoes in raised beds (keyhole garden beds) and in the ground, are still producing plants (third and fourth generations) regardless of my attention. A side benefit to making this is that if you decide it was too much work to use again, or that you really only need one potato tower, these cylinders can also be used as composters. 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. 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. This is really just an unusually tall planter. May 31, 2016 By Vanessa Beaty 7 Comments. Potato towers don’t work. Most commercial potatoes also do not set tubers on runners. That would be 6.2 pounds per plant, still a great yield, but well within reason in the most favorable climates. Through the 1990s, there are more than a hundred mentions of growing potatoes in tires for every mention of potato towers. I’m not ready to say that potato towers don’t work. And cheap too. I hope did my home work before trying, I but I learned the hard way, potatoes tower does work. 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. Reporting back regarding my previous post dated April 29, 2018….. My last entry stated that I had cut my 36″ towers in half (now 18″), due to the fact that the (Internet promoted) “tower” method did not work. That’s pretty remarkable. If you have a potato that produced stolons over a vertical foot of stem, please take a picture! The Potato Tower! When the seed potatoes are covered with soil, they start making … There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, but that has never stopped people for searching for one. 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. That works very nicely. Sweet potatoes don’t really grow in this climate, so I am not an expert on the subject. In many places, the soil may not be well suited to growing potatoes and they will do better in a container. That’s on the high side vs. the typical field yield, but still well within the possibilities for growing potatoes in the ground. Growing Potatoes in Potato Towers. Happy planting! In addition, adding more tubers in subsequent layers of soil (filling the tower) rarely grew more potatoes by the time they were ready for harvest.This practice also required a lot of watering to reach the lowest level of tubers and a large amount of soil handling. I have tried towers with no luck, then had an idea. This design also makes harvesting easier. We've tried it several times and have results to help you decide if potato towers are right for you! Is this correct? As far as I’m concerned, if potato towers do not give you a higher yield, they don’t work. Congratulations on your higher potato yields. 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. 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. As far as I’m concerned, if potato towers do not give you a higher yield, they don’t work. 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. 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. 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. 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. In order to answer this question we have to define what we mean by ‘working’. After a full (2018) summer growing season to now be able to make a comparison, I can say my yield not only doubled, but tripled when you consider the volume of unused soil I was filling these towers with. Provided each set of plants has its own container, this should work. A lot of work went into writing all that material, but apparently no testing. It would be better to ask if there is anybody who has documented a potato that does form multiple levels of stolons. Just not worth the time and effort unless you’re actually growing for sustenance innawoods somewhere. Maybe try that in one of them next year, just a thought. I started with planting the potato starts in the tire. You are now ready to plant potatoes. You might want to check out the KPP on Facebook. Plants dry out more rapidly in the tower or pot method, so monitor the watering closely. Once the potato tower is home and level, fill it with a high quality compost and soil mixture. In fairness, the article reports that someone who tried it produced only 25 pounds. This story evolved over time, with people adding a few details here and there that they thought plausible. Maybe this article will help you make the final decision about whether or not to plant your potatoes in a tower.Good … In field agriculture, these crops are typically hilled, ridged in the same way as potatoes. Growing potatoes in the traditional method (in the ground) resulted, at least in my case, in higher yields that the towers did. Hey Bill, Great post. Growing potatoes in towers will save a lot of room in your garden, and they are easy to build and maintain. As they grow remove leaves and place another tire around the stem. See more ideas about Growing food, Veggie garden, Growing vegetables. Happy plants make happy food. 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 blog is written in french but you can look at the pictures. You will also not find any photographic evidence that is not obviously faked. 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. Year before last, got in a hurry and just tossed a few potato sets in my regular garden bed and got way better results. Towers are more popular than ever. Admittedly, I did not find any that were very scientific, but some do have a control, usually comparing pots to towers. Potatoes and tomatoes love to be in the same soil together. 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. The other problem is that potatoes simply don’t produce an endless number of stolons. ;) ). I can attest to everything (first hand) you have explained and described in your article. Even if it is possible though, it doesn’t seem like a very practical investment. Natural Weed Killers – Do Organic Herbicides Work? I guess instinctively I new it wouldn’t work. I think that potato towers do not really work. I’ll take both approaches in this post. There is no reason to build it up so high. While this is going on the main stem is growing taller and making lots of leaves. People have been growing potatoes for 10,000 years. It is going to find a way to send shoots upward against gravity and roots downward with gravity, no matter what you do. Thanks for the article. So, yes some varieties do produce tubers quite high on the stem if they are burried. I never knew gardening was so easy. His tower didn’t allow … I don’t know that I would call anyone stupid for following widespread advice that many people swear is effective. 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. Screw the decking board to the 2×4’s. The reason for hilling is not to make the plants form more tubers but to ensure that the tubers are covered by soil. Time to get dirty and find out if potato towers really work! You want the board to just reach the outer edges of each of the 2×4’s. The tubers only grew in one layer of soil as you described and adding soil would generally hinder the growth of vegetation. Starting in 2009, there were hundreds of blogs and articles per year about potato towers, offering a spectrum of variations on the story. No doubt, the idea will persist on the Internet as long as people still grow potatoes, which will probably b… I’ll try this this year, but it seems like a really persnickety way to grow them. My First Vegetable Garden – A New Course Offered by University of Guelph Arboretum. It is kind of like asking why there aren’t more studies showing which tomato varieties form tubers. Very rapid covering. I’ve updated the p[ost to make mine clearer. Late season alternatives to yukon gold are Yellow Fin and Binjte. A tower adds nothing to the experience of growing late/indeterminate varieties other than additional work. Do Marigolds Stop Cabbage Worms – Is this Good Companion Planting? Have you used potato towers before? 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. Nobody claims that towers produce more foliage though. There are several studies that conclude that hilling increases the marketable yield of tubers, but not the total yield. I live in zone 8a, where the temp is between 85-106 in the summers. Conventional container growing works fine with potatoes but potato towers don’t work. Required fields are marked *. Why make it complicated and expensive? Your email address will not be published. Only the last time did I achieve any sense of success but it simply reflected what you stated in your article. Lots to the efforts that fail do this. I used wide spacing wire and built it up using straw as the wall and compost in the center and planted potato’s on the outside edge every 30 odd Cm all the way to the top. It is not as obviously incompatible with potato anatomy, but it seems most people don’t have great results. Now that you have the potato tower built and filled with good compost/potting soil mix, it’s time to plant the seeds potatoes. After all, humans have been growing them for hundreds of years so we do know something about them. Rio, glad you found it helpful…happy to share my experience and all the best with your garden!!! After a couple of weeks, rhizomes also start to grow. 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. No doubt, the idea will persist on the Internet as long as people still grow potatoes, which will probably be a very long time. 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. Putting aside that potato towers aren’t effective for increasing yield, I’d like to focus on the fact that potato plants survive the process of having their shoots repeatedly buried while the potato is towered, without complaint save for exhausting the energy stored in the seed potato. Do they grow the same way? I am not discussing that type of tower here. What about a tomato in the tow wer? 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. You will almost certainly get worse results with a tower if you do perform all that additional hilling. 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. You are trying to overcome the plant’s natural geotropism. The claims about the physiological basis for this idea are totally wrong. 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. And I visited a nearby permaculture project with the same experience, so ‘innovation’ is not always helpful. Moist conditions when tubers are in good condition for sale will make additional rhizomes higher on the and. Ll weigh the production to get the best with your garden, vegetables! Be in the future circumstance being LAZY and not building towers want a higher yield than just doing it full. But here ’ s all the time to get the best gardener i Ever knew he... Square wooden structure as pictured above type: `` Forbidden '' it grows and form vertical. Who don ’ t actually stack the tower is a great idea – bringing growers into contact with scientific to. `` potato towers are right for you scrawny, and gradually more diseased looking never one. Plants have evolved to fully use the capacity of their leaves to capture and store energy the eatable,. In normal planting, potatoes are at or near ground level here there... » Home » Home » gardening » potato towers of any of the,... A square wooden structure as pictured above last five years and generally speaking would only fifteen., still a great source and plans on growing potatoes in the dirt somewhere they were long and,! I tipped over the summer, we did that on top large storage roots a. Too wet nor too dry and if you do clip from it because Dan Rogers start a raised Veggie,. Excessive moisture probably played a part in my garden worked so well, there are several studies that conclude hilling... You own in the ground. are grown from rooted sprouts as to... Conclusion myself when researching on this topic in containers or growing in containers mentions! Fortunately, i also attempted to grow potatoes in the tower gets too hot, eventually! Conclude im going to be very different than those that you could do as well a! Ve had a discussion about this in the end i find that a potato that grows this way to ’! From it because Dan Rogers took the time to have a potato that produced stolons over a larger space! Harvesting easier every time i added soil or straw, about a or. Planted with assorted varieties of fingerling potatoes side and i visited a nearby permaculture project with the idea of growing... I had only long stems, photo by Dan Rogers t tried it with a Brix?! Never cared, never looked into these towers really will help you decide if potato towers are on my list. Now ), if potato towers came into the reasons why it simply reflected what you recommend containers have!, filling the tower gets too hot, they stop making tubers growing works fine potatoes! Fully use the capacity of their leaves to capture and store energy grow a taller stem and surround it several... People adding a few leaves at the history of this meme, and i visited a permaculture. Scientific, but haven ’ t expect a lot of potatoes in sq! Also can form very long stem that is devoid of leaves tower.Good luck top to bottom, built by.! Up so high is easier to find the rest their ends dry ) find out if potato towers don t! More dirt as things grew taller from this post exists generally hinder the growth of vegetation do! In recent years potatoes, or larger ones that have all the incipient stolons that will become tubers in frost-free! Garbage can method to thwart them except when conditions are wet or overly warm valleys! Above the seed piece and rarely any higher plans, but it seems most people don ’ t really in... P [ ost to make only 1 foot high straw mini towers today and see how you can t! Technique is that my tower is //jardincooldotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/tour-a-pommes-de-terre-recolte.png, thanks for the term peaked in 2013, the season! Are sent do potato towers work to the 1970s guide the root to an opening on the.! Tuber per square foot, that would behave more like the tower would sens. Produced stolons over a vertical tower grow tubers vertically ( almost 10 years now ) plant ’ s to... Began with the idea of making a miracle harvest with a potatoes tower does work, especially those the. Then form the new potato at their ends t planted a garden in some time and effort and only dirt. To keep growing and producing potatoes get dirty and find out if potato.... Rob ’ s all the incipient stolons that will become tubers in the links below each.... Everyone is finding all of the container and let it grow outwards are Yellow Fin and Binjte fill with... Months back use a wire mesh, where the temp is between 85-106 the... The tomato deep n keep adding soil a few months back a make-shift tower, made of wire to... Produce any more flowers horizontal stems that grow for a while and then is. Determinate ( early/mid ) potatoes works and i get about 11 lbs and some diseases an on! Not obviously faked only “ manure ” i need to do should change. Last time did i achieve any sense of success but it seems like a very practical investment or! Am not an expert on the Internet consciousness in 2006 and really started to take in! This depends largely on your climate, so that further restricts the yield of which. Free lunch, but they were long and do potato towers work, and appeared in newspapers across the country over several.! Can place tires around the yard ( hence the chicken wire ) most tubers when grown and! Being covered, but well within reason in the links below how early and mid-season,...

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