Grow 100 lbs. Of Potatoes In 4 Square Feet: {Instructions}

Quite the clever method here folks! Today’s feature includes tips from three different sources for growing potatoes vertically (in layers) instead of spread out in rows across your garden. If you have limited space or want to try some nifty harvest magic, this could be a great option for you.

Seattle TimesFirst, there’s this article from The Seattle Times: It’s Not Idaho, But You Still Can Grow Potatoes:

The potatoes are planted inside the box, the first row of boards is installed and the dirt or mulch can now be added to cover the seed potatoes. As the plant grows, more boards and dirt will be added.

You plant in one bottom layer, boarding up the sides of each layer and adding dirt as you go higher (you wait until the plants have grown a bit before adding a new layer). While new potatoes are growing in the top layers, remove the boards from the first layer at the bottom to carefully dig out any that are ready for harvesting. Fill the dirt back in and board up the box again. You move up the layers and harvest as they are ready. I imagine the new potatoes in the first couple bottom layers would be somewhat awkward to get at but as you move higher–not so bad.

I traced the information provided in the article to Irish Eyes Garden Seeds, they also advise you can skip the box and try growing them in a barrel or wire cage instead.

In another article on The Seattle Times (found here), I came across a blog post from Sinfonian’s Square Foot Garden that details his attempt using this box method, he added this tip for a better yield (Update: link removed since page is no longer online) :

Greg from Irish-Eyes Garden City Seeds let me know that Yukon Golds, and all early varieties set fruit once and do not do well in towers. You only get potatoes in the bottom 6 inches, which is what I got. Late season alternatives to yukon gold are Yellow Fin and Binjte.

Bonus! For a handy project sheet, The Seattle Times has a nice image file detailing the steps (click to view the original):

Image File

Imagine growing all those potatoes in a just a few square feet–and how drastically reduced the weeding job will be! So Clever.

Reader Update: Here’s some info sent in by Christine who made a bin using wood pallets:

Last weekend, I was inspired by the Tip Nut potato bin – grow 100 lbs in 4 square feet. As nice as it looked, it seemed to be very complicated, especially unscrewing slats. Being a “just do it” kind of person, I asked my husband to build me one using pallets — which are free. He picked some up, but I realized that they were enormous, so he cut them in half and made side by side compost / potato growing bins.

The Tip Nut plan called for unscrewing the bottom portions to get the grown potatoes out. Rod attached pieces of wood to hold the front pallet in place and to allow you to slide it up like a window. I took books of hay to stuff in the openings of the potato bin so the dirt wouldn’t fall out. We’ll see how it does.

Here’s a photo:

Wood Pallets

Unfortunately we placed it up against our neighbor’s fence. On the other side is their dog, who our Puggle Feeney loves to visit. He is always trying to dig under the fence. With the bins in place over his digging spot, the poor guy jumped into the compost bin and got stuck!

Christine’s Update: After having it in place for a couple of weeks, I discovered that the local cats think it makes a fine litter box, so I’ve added a frame on the top with chicken wire to keep them out, but allow the sunlight and water in. See her page here for lots more info and tips: Food Security 2009.

Sunset.comUpdate: Reed Screening Towers
(Spring 2011)

Sunset.com: Here’s another project using different materials but grown with the same basic idea. These are made with reed screening wrapped around tomato cages (to give them shape) and then secured to the ground with rebar stakes.

To get started, a single layer of seed potatoes are planted, a few inches of compost and rice straw is added and then as the vines grow taller, they are topped off with more rice straw for the tubers to grow in (no more soil is added).

At the end of the season, remove the bamboo screening and watch the potatoes tumble out!

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Comments

    • Brian
    Reply

    I do not see any post about actual yields. How accurate is the 100 pound claim (or even 25-50LB)?

    • Homayun
    Reply

    Hi.
    How can I grow the same size potato tubers for minimmizing sorting needs.
    Homayun

    • Tom Lynch
    Reply

    Due to cold wet spring I was late getting to the garden and all the seed potatoes were sold out. Guy at the store suggested going to Whole Foods and getting small Organic potatoes as these supposedly are not treated with chemicals to retard sprouting. They are in the ground in my box. We shall see.
    TJL

    • Mike
    Reply

    A friend told me to buy a large bag of compost poke holes in the bottome for drainage and cut a slit on top and plant potatoes in the bag. To havest slice the side and pull out only what you need.

      • Virginia Nancarvis
      Reply

      This is the method I am going to use. My cousin is a gardener and has been pyramid gardening. I am buying the garden soil..a 2cubic foot bag cost around $7.00 and going to use “left over” potatoes that I bought at the grocery store that have eyes on them. Then cover that with hay. Compost would work too. I see no need for the box or container. I think potato plants are pretty. My mother use to grow sweet potato vines on her kitchen window sill. Place toothpicks closer to the bottom of the sweet potato as supports. Then put in a glass container with enough water to cover the bottom third of the potato. It is grown for the foliage only and a very pretty vine.

        • Cherie
        Reply

        I’ve always been told that grocery potatoes are sterilized or something and they won’t regrow or at least won’t grow well. I did try planting some store potatoes once and they were a complete flop. If you save from your own potatoes each year you should only have to buy seed potatoes once.

          • CJ
          Reply

          I’ve used store bought potatoes, I got them free from the product people because they were starting to sprout. I cut them in sections making sure each section had an eye or two. I had the best potatoes.

    • Joe
    Reply

    Don’t use leaves unless they are sterilized first. Hardwood leaves, especially oak carry nematodes that will keep your crop on the smallish, disfigured side.

    • mh robertson
    Reply

    Last year I build one of these potato wood bins as you called them. I went to my local builder store and had them cut the boards to the length that I needed and bought the screws. I already had some extra compost from my composter and extra potting soil along with some regular soil so all in all it cost me $28 to build my 32″x32″ bin. I planted my potatoes and grew 40 lbs of them, the best tasting potatoes ever. Two things I noticed when I did not water them enough that layer had little to no potatoes, could estimate by my vacation time and where the soil had not been softened with compost that layer had few potatoes. I have had excellent potatoes all winter. The funny part was I was gone and then got sick and forgot about picking them so after we had a major freeze here in Colorado I expected them to be mush but I needed to take my bin down so started digging them out and it turned out they had not been affected by the freeze at all.
    Excellent way to grow…how many different things.
    Just wanted to share this with others, I did not get my 100 lbs but who cares and with paying more attention to them with regular watering and good soil who knows…I was thrilled for my first year it was GREAT.
    hr

      • brent
      Reply

      what type of potatoes did you plant?

    • Su
    Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks for the great info. I blogged about potatoes and included your link. My customers love information and I love to bring it to them. This is something they could do on their own. Thanks so much.
    Su from Zoey Farms, Shingle Springs, Ca

      • Rick
      Reply

      Hello Su
      From Pollock Pines here so we are neighbors.

    • Madelon
    Reply

    We have used the stainless steel tub from our defunct washer for growing potatoes for the past few years, although we have only planted one layer. I will be trying the suggestion of planting on the very bottom and then covering the plant as it grows. (To stop the dirt from leaking out the holes, put a liner if weed barrier fabric around the inside of the tub.)

    • survivalist
    Reply

    Good article, and good information – thank you. Even though regular pine boards get termites in them and rot rather fast, try not to use treated boards. The plants are supposed to be able to pull the chemicals out of the treated boards. Its better to replace rotten pine boards then to risk getting chemicals in your food.

    I have heard of using tires, but its nothing that I recommend.

      • Donna
      Reply

      Have you ever tried the black landscape fabric ? Lay it down put potato on top lay next fabric on top cut small hole on top of potato , put straw or hay on top water potatoes grow between fabrics. Donna

      • Henry
      Reply

      Funny, there is a lot of cedar on the family land. Cedar is resistant to rot and insects. Good red cedar can last decades, Might want to try it. Chestnut was good as well, but is almost extint, due to a disease.

    • Sydney
    Reply

    This is a truly AWESOME idea. I’ve copied all your plans so that I can try this as well. I have a large back yard but everything I grow tends to spread everywhere and turns into a mess, so I like the confinement. The tire idea sounds excellent as well. I don’t think it’s ‘white trash’ – that’s just some silly prejudice. It sounds practical to me. And by the way – I could eat all 100 pounds of potatoes. πŸ™‚

    • Virginia in VA
    Reply

    I have a raised vegetable garden bed. When the growing season has finished and harvesting complete, then during the winter months, I throw my scraps into the raised garden bed (no dairy products/meat by products, etc.). Once in awhile during the winter, the soil is turned over. There are some leaves in the garden bed too. Potatoes??? Wow, I had russet, red bliss, yukon gold potatoes and all from the peelings thrown into the vegetable garden bed. Didn’t purchase any fancy spuds at the garden center to use….mine just grew from peelings. Bountiful supply in the spring.

      • Cherie
      Reply

      My great-grandparents never bought seed potatoes. They of course wanted to eat all the potatoes (food was scarce in their day), so they would save potato eyes on the peelings to replant in the spring. I always thought you had to have a chunk of potato with the eye, but not so. The peelings with eyes will regrow potatoes!

      They also covered their potatoes lightly with soil and straw and just added more straw or lawn clippings.

      My father, raised in Mississippi, said his mother used to create a manure hotbed under a small area of the garden to start some vegetables early. About a 4 foot thick bottom layer of hot manure, then add soil to plant on the top-most layer. The heat from the manure layer would warm up the planting soil enough to start earlier during cold weather.

      The older generations sure knew how to grow things! I grow organically and have always had bumper crops without fertilizing during the growing season by simply tilling in good organic fertilizer (we have cow, chicken and pig manure mix on the farm) in the fall or early spring. Seems like the fall tilling of the manure works better–time to leach into the soil??

      Best of luck to all the green thumbs out there!

        • Melissa
        Reply

        Wow! I’ve never heard of using just peelings. Can’t wait to try that this spring. Thanks for the tips. The older generations are sages.

    • Charles Avent
    Reply

    That seems like a lot of trouble, to dig out the potatoes from the bottom. My grandfather, Emery Mullendore used to just lay the “eyes” on the ground about 6 inches apart, then cover them with hay. He’d water them, during “not so wet” times and keep them moist at first, then when they were ready to harvest, just lift the hay, pick the potatoes up, from the ground and take them in the house, for my grandmother to cook. Never any digging or hard work.

    I can see where the “box method” would be good, if you have no room, but if you have the room, the “hay method” seems like a winner to me.

      • Pat in Kitchener
      Reply

      Yes this works wonders. My Dad used to dig a trench then lay the potatoes in and just add straw, as the potatoes grew he added more straw. You just need to make sure there is enough straw as the potatoes grow so they are covered and don’t turn green. But very easy picking and no cleaning, they are already clean and seem to me to grow bigger.

    • Frank quinn
    Reply

    I am not sure that pallets are a good idea. Many are soaked in chemical preservatives. Years ago arsenic was the potion of choice but lord knows what is put on them in strange countries. A lot of them may be hardwood and Ok……………but then dont ever cut them indoors as the dust is hazardous.

    As I am already the prophet of doom could i also add its not a good idea to inhale smoke from burning pallets.

      • J the Bear
      Reply

      Frank, pallets are not made from treated wood, it’s more expensive than untreated, and for a shipping pallet that’s most like going to be discarded, they’d have no reason to make them from treated wood. I have seen a few that have some paint on them, I don’t know why, maybe they were made from recovered wood, maybe they were painted for some reason. I wouldn’t want the paint in contact with something I’m going to eat. Sometimes they have oil or other substances on them, so it is something to be careful with. But in general, pallets are safe to use.

        • Cate
        Reply

        Actually they are treated. It doesn’t matter which country they come from, most countries, and especially first world countries, by law, will not allow an untreated pallet entry into their country, purely because all sorts of bugs can burrow into the wood and they have to provide certificates proving that the pallets are treated.

          • Joanie
          Reply

          All pallets are not treated. I work for a pallet company. Pallets being shipped from one country to another country must be treated or heated in a kiln. Most pallet companies I know heat treat the pallets in a kiln. The reason for treating with a chemical or a kiln is to kill any bugs that might be hiding in the wood. This stops the transfer of bugs from one country to another. But pallets used exclusively within the US (and not shipped outside the US) do not need to be treated and are not treated because of the cost of the treatment.

        • junkmistress
        Reply

        Pallets made here in Southern Ohio are made from fresh cut lumber…no chemicals.

      • J the Bear
      Reply

      I forgot to add, treated wood also has a green tint to it, so you can tell it apart from untreated. I think there’s a new one with a yellow tint, called “Yellawood”. It’s probably not likely to be found in pallets, though.

        • sacredhairball
        Reply

        pallets that are used fro different uses have stamps on them to tell you what they are treated with there is different codes so beware they are harmfull

      • Henry
      Reply

      CCA, or, chromated copper arsenic, is the main culprit you all speak of. There are processes that do not use the heavier metals, and do not toxify. At one time, they were more expensive, but I think pricing has leveled out a bit. Man, Its fun to finally use that knowledge.

    • Eva
    Reply

    Watch out when using straw, it is great to grow in and add to your compost as long as your compost pile heats up enough to really break it down good and keep it’s seed from germinating. If not you will have straw growing everywhere and vigorously. The best sustitute for staw is Hay. Most hay is seedless when harvested. It has the same characteristics as straw for its use, breaks down at the same rate,is a great addition to compost and ammendments for your soil. Plus in a vegetable garden it acts as a wonder mulch to help retain moisture, suppress weeds and helps deter some pests. Not to metion it looks good as well.
    I work at a state historic site and design and maintain the working kitchen garden and have been using hay for over 10 years. It’s great!

      • Yonder
      Reply

      You sterilize straw or grass trimmings, or lawn-grass cuttings, even leaves–by putting in a black garbage bag, tie it, leave it in the hot sun and any seed in the straw or grass will die, and then you can use it as compost for your potatoes or anything else without the danger of growing weeds in your garden. Any root crops do better in straw compost than in dirt, especially in hard clay or soil with poor drainage.

      • Mike
      Reply

      I’m going to try this and when the potatoes are finished I can use the leftover straw for my chicken coops.

        • sally
        Reply

        I do the same, but the other way round. I use the spent straw from my coops to mulch with. It has added chicken poop fertiliser and the chickens get it when it’s clean and dry πŸ™‚

        • faith
        Reply

        They say that you should not use straw for your chickens and hay is better. Only because straw is more tube-ish, and gives great hiding places to the bugs that are a nuisance to your chickens. Just some information I have run across. I use hay for my chickens.

      • Robin
      Reply

      Here in Texas, the hay if full of grass and weed seeds. Straw is a by-product of raising grain such as oats and wheat. The oat and wheat seeds have been removed.

      • Karen
      Reply

      Eva, great advice except you are backwards. Hay has seed (ie. alfalfa), straw is the light beige one that is basically dried plant stems.

    • frankbhoy
    Reply

    I am in Scotland and this sounds ideal for my small garden. The Government are subsidising composting bins here just now of various sizes and designs starting from Β£6. I am definately going to try this.
    What variety for our climate.
    maris pipers
    golden wonder
    kerrs pinks
    marfona
    king edwards
    estima
    spunta

    anyone in the uk got any suggestions

    Frank

    • Zoozooni
    Reply

    I’ve been using pantyhose for years. Much easier access to the potatoes and yams. Don’t have to fight your way in between tires or pull apart wood. Pantyhose stretch, you can cut with knife and then re-tie.

    • Cornish
    Reply

    I think I will try this in my poly tunnel. We have three acres but this will allow for very early planting. Should get first new potatoes by mid Febuary.

    • 24680
    Reply

    So the potatoes just grow really big?

    • polly
    Reply

    What i do not understand is if all you add is straw what is the potato plant going to FEED from ? If there is not any dirt or compost and the straw is not going to be able to breakdown all that fast -does not the potato plant STARVE ??

      • J the Bear
      Reply

      The plants use photosynthesis to make food, like most plants. I’d put a small amount of good soil or finished compost in on the seed potatoes, though. Then you can add straw to encourage more potatoes. You can always spray with a foliar feed fertilizer, too, such as soluble kelp. And water with compost tea every couple of weeks.

      • Henry
      Reply

      The understanding I have, is that the roots stay at the bottom, with good soil, and straw or whatever it is, is just to provide a dark place where potatoes form. It is still feeding on dirt and compost.

        • Jimtom
        Reply

        You can also use pine straw to cover! You can also use it for mulch in your garden. Many of my neighbors in FL have pine trees and rake and throw the pine straw in the trash. This way you can use things that would many would consider trash, and it makes your soil more acid for those plants that like acidity!

    • Kat
    Reply

    Even easier to handle than soil, use straw! Loosen the soil of the planting area, place your potatoes on top, cover with 4″ to 6″ of straw. As the plants grow, add more straw. For harvesting, just push the straw aside, take what you want and put the straw back. No digging, no heavy soil to shift, and the straw beaks down over the winter to enrich your soil.

    • shadow
    Reply

    What a great way of getting some fresh food, when the next oil crash wrecks the world’s economy permanently. I’m sure you guys have heard of “peak oil” haven’t you? Oh, but don’t worry. At least we’ll get rid of greenhouse gases.

      • Daniel
      Reply

      We’re talking about growing potatoes. Why must every blog or article on the Internet devolve into politicking?

        • Penny
        Reply

        Amen (politics totally out of the blue, so annoying).

        I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea, I can’t WAIT to try it since I’m so limited on space to grow food! This is awesome!

        • Henry
        Reply

        Politics are the duty of a responsible citizen. Apathy leads to fascism and slavery. That is why.

          • Rick
          Reply

          While politics may be the duty of citizens it does not need to be brought up in every discussion. At that point it becomes a rant and belittle’s the person bringing it up as it shows that their mind only works in one direction.

            • gaphaw

            hmmmmmm. potato politcs ? i ;think i will get involved in that as soon as i finish reading { how to avoid becoming a procrastinator} first yeaar of suburban gardening am finding this very helpful

    • riddlywalker
    Reply

    Hi- In Scotland we start the spuds in an old tyre, and just keep piling up tyres and compost until it’s time to harvest, not exactly beautiful- but you can plant around the tyres to hide them, or make the stack near your compost bins where they won’t be so visible. Zero cost, lots of potatoes.

    • chris mc
    Reply

    good way to grow spuds in confined space…. place several car tyers on top of one another fill quater way up with soil and spud seedlings it’s really good way of doing it. my cousine use to live in a block of flats and use to do this on his varander it really works.

      • Carrie
      Reply

      I had read the old article in Mother’s Earth News about the potatoes. New to a town at the top of the coast of Maine, I decided to do it with truck tires and convinced my husband to get some for me. Naturally all the potato farmers up there wondered what I was up to. After adding 5 layers of truck tires – very heavy and very high – and dirt (I wasn’t even using straw), I happily was ready to harvest. Struggling we managed to get the first tire off, after that we just started toppling the stack. I harvested 5 potatoes, just 5!!! I’ve yet to live it down! In this site I read that some potatoes don’t grow with this method. Maybe that’s the kind I tried to grow. I even had a perforated pipe in the center for watering and aeration. I do think that was a good idea.

    • Ron Yon
    Reply

    let m,e see if I can summarize.
    1. Raise the bed as the plant grows.
    2. Add loses soil-basically mulch
    3. Use late season plants.
    4. Dont use tires- could be toxic.

    Question-doesn’t the garbage can method limit the sun that the plant gets?
    I guess that might be good, I don’t know enough about potatoes to guess…

      • isshensane
      Reply

      I’ve been using garbage cans forever and have great luck..You don’t completely cover the plant leave a couple inches out and that’s all the sun they will need i guess that’s what keeps them growing up is the search for sun? Anyways just let them get about 6 to 8 inches tall and then cover with compost or straw and repeat.When they start flowering i stop and let them finish making their taters

    • Steven Pozder
    Reply

    The thing I found with tires is that the “empty space” where the potatoes grow is an excellent enviroment for bugs and most aren’t “good bugs”. The wood seems like a better idea. I used plastic garbage cans(med. size) and always had a good crop. Sold lots of spuds at the Farmers market here in Great Falls MT.

    • Rosemarie
    Reply

    Regarding those compost bags some call them Smart Bags, you can make your own by taking landscaping cloth and sewing up the side to make a tube. roll it down and plant the spuds and as you said roll it up as you go.

    • Sailor
    Reply

    You need not buy lumber. There are plenty of used wooden pallets that are free for the taking. They are usually made of hard woods and last a long time. Just cut the pieces from them. You will recycle, help clean up Mother Earth and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

    Before sailing the seven seas, I was privileged to be a steward of a 98 acre organic farm in south central Kentucky.

      • Boston MA.
      Reply

      Want to try this potato growing concept but what about potato seedlings. Any suggestions for potato starter seeding varities sources etc. in NE area. Can you just carve left over potato that came from supermarket allow to dry then plant. Can you start grow inside in say basement then move out doors as weather warms up. Suggestions on seeding and seed preperation for best results. thx

        • Mike
        Reply

        Store-bought potatoes have been treated with a growth inhibitor to keep them from sprouting. The absence of this inhibitor is what makes seed potatoes seed potatoes.

          • Davilyn Eversz
          Reply

          This does not apply to “organic” potatoes. I use organic potatoes from the store for my crops. In fact, if you leave an organic potato in the mesh bags they come in, they will all begin to sprout within 30 days.

            • Joann

            My red potatoes from the grocery store were sprouting so I thought I would try cutting them and planting the eyes and sprouts in the container with my tomato plants. I now live in an apartment so I am limited in the space. I am delighted to see red potatoes popping up out of the top of the soil! I am amazed at their size! I have no idea what may be developing below the surface. I guess I will find out when the tomatoes are finished producing and I pull the plants out.

        • Patti
        Reply

        I haven’t tried potato towers but have had great luck simply growing potatoes in large pots, 18 inch diameter or larger. Simply put one potato in each pot. After the plants die back, I leave them in the pots until I need them. But be sure to harvest them before a freeze or they will be ruined.
        Regarding seed potatoes, I used to buy them. Now I just use supermarket potatoes…. It’s a good use for potatoes that have sprouted or shriveled before you got around to eating them. As long as they are not moldy, incredibly shriveled, dried up old potatoes will grow.

    • Cindy
    Reply

    I read about doing this sort of thing years ago in The Mother Earth News, but I never tried it. They didn’t use soil in the planting beds, though–just straw. They were using larger beds, but same concept. I suppose the plant feeds itself from the layer of roots underground and the potato-producing portion just needs protection from sun/wind/etc.

    We live in a very short-season area, but a bed this small could be easily protected or even grown in a greenhouse. I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks!

    • isshensane
    Reply

    Great idea but a suggestion for those who are a lil afraid of the construction aspect, Get yourself a plastic garbage can, drill a few holes around the bottom edge for drainage and there you go,works great..Simply add about 6 inches of compost.Put in the seed potatoes and cover with a few inches of compost.As the tops grow up add more compost and reap the rewards at the end of the season. Get a can with wheels and it makes for easy moving and is reusable for years..:-)

      • Bladerunner
      Reply

      Actually, no, wheels on the garbage can are not terribly useful – unless you have a seriously heavy-duty garbage can. I’ve got horseradish growing in three 32-gallon garbage cans right now. My first plant is in a can with wheels. Once you’ve got the dirt in there and you’ve watered it, the can is too heavy for wheeling around much. I broke the handle on mine trying to tip it back, and the weight of the dirt, plant and water makes the can kind of sag around the wheels. So I just put them in a good place and leave them alone all winter.

      • dj evans
      Reply

      I grew mine in a plastic garbage can. I drilled holes in the bottom and had left over red cedar mulch so I used that. It worked like a charm and i do it every year now. I got the green can at Walmart for under 20 bux.

      dj

        • SandyB
        Reply

        How big a hole did you drill?

          • Rink Produce
          Reply

          Basically, all you need to do is drill 5 holes in the bottom. 5/16″ is adequate and big enough for this project. One in the center and 1 on each corner for drainage. Be sure not to over water potatoes because the bottom ones will rot. Holes will help drain excess water to prevent the rotting.

      • lori murray
      Reply

      I also drilled holes on the sides of the garbage can for air circulation – gets really warm. Used the big cans with wheels for the white potatoes & 18 gal. rubbermaid tubs for the reds. Very heavy with soil & this year I put them on bricks & they seem to be doing better.

    • deanstick67
    Reply

    Hi, I think a better idea, because it costs nothing but a small amount of time, and you can have as small an area, or as large an area as you like, is to re-use/recycle old plastic plant pots, any nursery or commercial landscaper will usually throw thousands away because they arent cost effective to return to the grower. get the size you want, they range from a few inches diameter to a few feet, get a number the same size, rinse them out, cut/knock the bottoms out, fill the first one with your soil and seed potatoes, then as they grow, sit another on top, fill with soil, so on, so forth etc etc etc.
    You can have several small stacks dotted around, the plastic will not rot, you are recycling something that would just go to landfill, and if you can support it against a wall or tree, you can have one a foot across and 5 feet tall.
    thanks for listening.

      • lana long
      Reply

      the nursery garden discarded planters,usually black plastic, sounds great, avordable, easy and can be as big or small as you like. I too have semi-retired, small condo . little out door shared space, but on the postive sounds like I could feed all 21 units potatoes! have enjoyed this. a used to be.80.plus acre land owner. thanks.

    • maverick
    Reply

    wow! great idea.. i will try it with the potatoes i planting on my backyard πŸ™‚ Thanks mate!!

    • Michael angel
    Reply

    Good idea. It should work well.
    You may be able to throw some compost material in – grass clippings, tree leaves, coffee grounds – as you go?

    But what about the expense of the wood
    Just use ‘recycled’ old tires instead?

      • Rink Produce
      Reply

      Compost is a good idea, but the coffee grounds may throw the Ph off to a more acidic level than most would use for potatoes.

    • CaptD
    Reply

    I suggest that you consider using some kind of “non rotting” lumber for this project; as it will save money in the long run. Take the lumber plans and material list to your local lumber yard and they will be able to suggest substitutes that will work well. Consider Trex, and similar materials…

    This would be an excellent use for recycled plastic/wood chip products that do not rot and looks very similar to many recycle/composting bins; so you may find a dual use for them!

      • Teresa
      Reply

      But not treated wood – I always worry that the chemicals in treated wood will leech into the garden.

        • Rom
        Reply

        The chemical used in treated wood is called “copper azole”. Snails definitely die when they try to climb up my raised beds that are made from it. I coated my beds inside with two coats of latex paint and then covered that with clear plastic. I’m not totally convinced that was necessary, but I just wanted to be on the safe side.
        I have grown potatoes in S.Calif. in 15 gal. nursery pots. My first attempt was a limited success due to my overwatering, some of the lower spuds rotted.
        I’m going to give the wooden box method a try using old fence wood.I am also going to modify it so that the 6″ slats are slotted in with a sliding door on one side to reach in and harvest.

    • Vinny
    Reply

    I’m definitely going to try this! Living in an apartment has become quite the gardening dilemma. Could this process also be used for yams/sweet potatoes?

      • Heather
      Reply

      Yes. I’ve done it (with tires) & it worked well. If you have a source for enough, sweet potatoes like sawdust better than dirt.

    • RANJITH
    Reply

    THIS WONDERFUL IDEA NEEDS MUCH PROMOTION AS THE SPACE OWNED BY A PERSON IS DECREASING WITH THE INCREASE IN TIME.

    • Jackie
    Reply

    Brilliant idea. Thanks for posting.

    • Pinklilys
    Reply

    Great idea but I would use another kind of wood in Florida because of termites. Yikes! Maybe a large planting bucket and cut out the hole in the bottom but do the same planting effect as with wood.

      • Henry
      Reply

      I think I am going to acquire a large stack of food grade buckets and cut the bottoms out. then stack them up and fill with straw as they get taller.Upside down, of course.

      • kodster5
      Reply

      You can try using a 55-gal plastic drum. I’ve seen where potatoes were grown in a basement, using a grow light, using this method.

    • Vickie
    Reply

    This is perfect! We live on a wooded lot with only one small area that gets enough sunlight. I’ve got to show this to hubby as soon as possible. Thanks for the tip πŸ™‚

      • Samosurfer
      Reply

      Actually Potatoes grow well in partial shade……as in under some trees……give it a try!!!!!!!!

    • katelynjane
    Reply

    I hate weeding so this is PERFECT for my garden!! I’m going to try a few of these this year! Store some potatoes in the cold room and give some away. Thanks for the tip!

    • kim northrop
    Reply

    Righteous! Must give this a try next year [in Florida, potato season is over]

    • Bob Elmour
    Reply

    I use a low-tech version of this in the UK. It lets me grow potatoes even though I’m wheelchair bound and can’t really dig. I use old plastic compost sacks. I cut small drainage holes in the bottom and roll the tops of the bags right down, planting the potatoes in maybe a foot of compost/soil mixture. As the plants grow I roll the bags up a little and add more compost/soil, and so on throughout the season. Where the soil covers the stem, new roots and more potatoes form giving a much heavier crop than normal.

    When I want some spuds I just tip the compost/soil out (or cut the bag open if I’m feeling lazy) and presto! There are the potatoes. I find they keep well over winter in their bags of soil as long as I cover them to keep them dry and protected from frost. A bumper harvest, easy storage and no digging – it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

      • Dan in AZ
      Reply

      thats genious my friend i am going to try that

      • LindainCO
      Reply

      Sounds great! I’m trying this!

      • Henry
      Reply

      That is pretty brilliant, for ease of use, and recycling. From what I have read, after the roots are good, you dont need more nutrients on top.you could get the potatoes in upper layers of plain old straw. Actually,going by what I am reading from various peoples experience, all they need is a dark place on the plant to form a potatoe.
      Interesting.

      • Paddy Flynn
      Reply

      What a splendid idea + it gives my empty feed bags another life. Thank you.

      • Kelly Gines
      Reply

      Bob,

      That is genius! I love it so much that I have a use for all the mulch bags I saved and can grow potatoes in a smaller space, living in Arizona I am blessed to grow my food yr round and this will be a fantastic addition. Thank You

      • Rita Hortin
      Reply

      Thanks. Sounds so easy – even I could do it. I’m going to try Idaho Russets and Reds together. If you use clear bags and only straw, I wonder if you can see the potatoes growing… I like to use those Reds when their small.

        • Jane
        Reply

        Hi Rita, how did you make out with the russets and reds? My first time trying 4 sq ft box and they are what I planted?

      • Chris
      Reply

      Great idea! What size bags do you use?

    • Johnathan Vrozos
    Reply

    Pretty clever i must admit. I think it would work well for in the condo for Mrs Vrozos.

      • julie
      Reply

      ‘has anyone tried just putting down a layer of straw and laying out your seed potatoes and covering with a lot more straw? It works, and not much mess as the stray will decompose into the soil and the straw also keeps out weeds.

    • Eric Berger
    Reply

    Why do you say, “rob potatoes”, if you grow them, shouldn’t you say “gather potatoes”?

      • Jana
      Reply

      It’s called robbing instead of harvesting because when you “rob” you leave the growing plant intact. Harvesting a crop includes killing the plant and ending the potential for more growth.

        • BP
        Reply

        so, peas/beans, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, certain greens, zucchini, hops, squash, asparagus, etc… that’s all “robbing” instead of harvesting? Those are all examples where you (ahem) harvest the product and the plant continues to produce more that season or next year. Sorry, I just don’t buy your definition.

          • john
          Reply

          REALLY ? Does it matter what you call it ? It’s about growing your own potatoes and eating food without all the chemicals that commercial companies add to thier products to get more profit

            • Doug Lambert

            In NZ we say “bandicoot the potatoes” meaning we dig down (rob) under the parent plant without disturbing it too much and take some potatoes for the table and let the parent plant continue growing. It also means you can check to see how things are going and can gauge the size of some of your crop. Bandicoots are native to Australia and are marsupial animals that dig down under plants looking for food.

    • RealPalmTrees
    Reply

    I help grow real palm trees at a Florida Nursery and we do the same concept but with the more exotic palms like the Lipstick palm. I have never tried growing 100 potatoes in 4 square feet but now at least I will have a fighting chance!

    • White Trash Ralph
    Reply

    “adding dirt and SEED POTATOES as you go higher”
    You don’t add seed potatoes on every level just the first one and continue to cover the same plants with mulch or dirt when they are about a foot tall being careful not to cover more than a third of the plant. If you had to put seed potatoes on every level you wouldn’t be gaining much. Seems like I have to keep telling this same story over and over…….

      • TipNut
      Reply

      Info corrected–I’m sure I reviewed the post 5 times before publishing and still missed that, thanks.

        • White Trash Ralph
        Reply

        I hope you realize my sarcasm wasn’t directed at you. I am gonna try this myself. Thanks for the post.

          • TipNut
          Reply

          Nope, I’m grateful you found the boo-boo–I was a bit embarrassed I missed it ;).

            • joanna lovato

            you don’t need dirt. a long time ago i did this at my parent’s house. they had a lawn (wasteful use of earth) anyway all you need to do is cut up the seed potatoes, leaving a few eye on each part, put them on top of the lawn, no digging needed, and cover with straw. when the potatoes are ready just pull up the plant and presto there are the grown potatoes ready to eat. no digging, no weeding(straw keeps the weeds down) just a little water.

    • Matthew Abel
    Reply

    You could get very fancy with your boards and add hinges and clasps to your boards. That would make it easier to rob potatoes and maybe add life to the box.

    • Sinfonian
    Reply

    Glad you folks liked it. I too considered tires long and hard in my quest for the perfect growing method for tight spaces. Unfortunately I had no tires to use and couldn’t see buying them. Besides, as the 2005 Times article said, I didn’t want to look like a Jeff Foxworthy joke, hehe.

    That said, however you grow potatoes, do so, it’s easy to do and they produce tons (well, short season don’t but read my blog page for that tid-bit). There’s 100 ways to grow a tomato, so whatever works, do it, hehe.

    Enjoy!

    • Christense
    Reply

    A little white trash, perhaps, but my parents, who are now old enough to tell the same stories over and over, used to plant a potato plant and throw an old tire over it. You don’t add dirt, just put a tire, and the potatoes will grow inside it, perfectly round, and free of dirt. Once the plant grows taller put another tire on top of the first one and you’ll get more potatoes. Continue this process until you have a big stack of tires filled with round, dirt free potatoes.

      • Ryan
      Reply

      How does it work without tires? do you just place the seed potatoes on the ground then add a tire? could you be a little more specific on how that works?

        • MsBunny
        Reply

        I’ve never heard this one! The closest I recall was to grow them in straw. Still eliminates the necessity to remove dirt from the potatoes, but does provide a growing medium.

          • Jack
          Reply

          Never tried it my self, but, I know a man who had a concrete driveway. He put about 1 foot of straw on the driveway, planted his potatoes in the straw and watered them. He kept the straw about 1 foot deep. At harvest time he got his potatoes, no dirt. Threw the straw away. To my knowlage he got a good crop every year!
          This was in the Willamette valley Oregon.

        • Susan Chandler
        Reply

        Listen up you only put the seed potatoes in the first tire with when you you see green leaves add another tire no more seed potatoes and then use straw REPEAT til your tires are as high as u want the straw makes much lighter and easier than dirt and at harvest time take top tire off and taters will fall out need more remove another tire a friend said his grew so many taters it was lifting the tires and he only used 6 seed taters in first tire Just make sure you feed and miracle grow and they will GROW

    • John
    Reply

    You can grow them in old car tires also.Just put down a tire or 2 and put in your potatos and some straw and dirt.They grow inside the tire,you reach down in and pull out what you need.

      • Ian
      Reply

      PLEASE DON’T USE TYRES. could be very dangerous to your health. I asked my tyre merchant about this and he said the amount of chemical materials the tyres collect off the roads over their lifetime seeps into the tyre rubber and will leach out into your potato crop as the insides become damp with watering. It’s a good idea BUT for your own health, please stop and think of all the chemicals that go into tar production. Do you really want this in your potato crop?
      And before you ask, i did use this method…but now I use the method described above with the boards or with large containers.
      Sorry to be a scare monger…but it’s your health

        • Aintshinbrit
        Reply

        NOT only that.
        But you cannot get out the first layer of tire without disturbing the entire crop.

          • jed york
          Reply

          Actually you can if you use straw instead of dirt, and cut holes into the lower tires.

        • dahut
        Reply

        The whole tire thing is overblown. There has been no evidence to date that supports the toxic leaching theory – it remains just that… a theory.

        Now, it seems like a no-brainer, I admit. Tires are an artificial petro-chemical product, run on the wicked bad roads where cars travel. God knows, but such things MUST be bad, right? But of all the information Ive seen the only substantiated problem arises with tire SHREDS used for mulch, which exhibit high levels of zinc leaching. Millions of people garden in tires don’t succumb to any noxious effects.

        Similar dire warnings have been given about pressure treated wood, too, mostly by people who just don’t like the idea of chemicals around wood. Research suggests that a microscopic amount of arsenic migrates out of the wood, but arsenic levels in the subject soils are no higher than that which naturally exists in the soil.

        As for potatoes, I like the idea of sliding side boards that allow you to extract the bottom potatoes – something the tires don’t have. Make them our of pressure treated wood and they’d be near to perfect. πŸ™‚

          • Mountain Man, Port Angeles, WA
          Reply

          dont use pressure treated lumber as it is full of toxic chemicals

            • LindainCO

            I agree with MountainMan and Ian. No chemicals in my food, please!
            Ahh, I long for the good old days when all of our food was organic!
            Actually, it can be again. πŸ˜€ Happy growing, everyone!

            • Bridy(coalition for proper word usage)

            This is a reply to LindainCO, and anyone else who is CONFUSED.
            ORGANIC means carbon based life. Carbon forms the key component for all known naturally occurring life on Earth. ALL food IS organic! If you are eating anything that is not organic, you should see the Dr. because you may have a disease called Pica.
            The proper term for what you are trying to convey is “organically grown”, rather than using synthetic fertilizers such as “Miracle Grow” they use animal feces that is allowed to rot to release nitrogen into the ground and fertilize the plants.

            • BP

            That is also outdated advice. Most (arguably all modern and consumer available) pressure treated wood is safe for vegetable garden use. Some is only heat treated, others use safe antimicrobial chemicals such as copper products. (ie the same copper used in my organic-rated fruit tree spray)

            Research your brand before making a decision either way.

          • Deb
          Reply

          ABSOLUTELY chemicals leach into your potatoes from tires. EVERYONE knows tires are all sorts of chemciuals and toxic stuff. NEVER, EVER use them for food. Wood also leaches chemicals into the food. Of course it’s a very slow process that kills over time. Please don’t publish untruths as others can seriously harm their health by reading this. ABSOLUTELY tires and treated wood is dangerous for vegetables.

            • Larry

            Perhaps you can post the scientific study from which you base you conclusions on? And has ANYONE actually achieved anywheres near these results. I know how no one who has actually achieved these big yields.

            • LTR

            Hi Deb,

            “dangerous for vegetables”? Would they die a horrible death?
            PLEASE support your claims with at least ONE scientifically based, published material (and no MONSANTO-GMO-IS-TOXIC-WE-ALL-KNOW-IT BS).

            • J38058

            “ABSOLUTELY chemicals leach into your potatoes from tires. EVERYONE knows tires are all sorts of chemciuals (SIC) and toxic stuff. NEVER, EVER use them for food. Wood also leaches chemicals into the food.” I will take your advice and NOT publish untruths.

            Been using tires and pressure treated wood in various garden projects for years and other than an occasional tic, have no issues. The third eye has been REAL handy watching the birds down at the beach.

            The real answer is there have been ZERO studies that have shown conclusive evidence that tires or pressure treated wood is a detriment to any food product grown in them or in close proximity to them. If you have no data to refute your claim, don’t chuck it out on the internet.

            • Shannon

            I have decided to stay clear of growing in pressure treated ,old railroad ties, old tires , I hear a lot of people on here spouting off about there not being any scientific proof that we should not use any of these items but I don’t think much time and money will be spent doing such studies so let’s just use common sense. There probably isn’t one person that hasn’t lost a family member or friend to cancer so why not just avoid things that we pretty much know would raise the risk of making ourselves sick. We have very few things we still have control over but growing our own food is still one so do it as natural and clean as you can or you may as well just buy the stuff in the stores.

          • gee
          Reply

          well in reality used tires are contaminated with asbestos. when you run your vehicle around and use your breaks, you get asbestos particles on the tires and wheels. that is the reason why the wheels turn black with the dust from the breaks. this dust contains asbestos since break pads are made using asbestos. if you get used tires, i advice washing the tires with a good non-toxic cleaner or use another type of material.

            • Jay Yother

            I am licensed for asbestos removal. Brakes have not been made using asbestos in America for decades, and tires have not ever, to my knowledge, used asbestos.

          • Connie
          Reply

          If tires aren’t full of chemicals then why if you go to sell your house and have tires buried or used as a retaining wall are you reuired by law to list that you have toxic waste on your property?

        • Sara
        Reply

        You can use tiers if they do not smell like rubber any more. They need to leak out the toxin in them at first then they will be perfectly fine to build or grow in. Yes rubber does contain extremely small amounts of certain heavy metals but one needs to know that these compounds are fixed tightly in the rubber matrix and do not leach.If the tires were that porous, they would never be able to hold air. The important thing to remember is to not use cut tires, if you are growing rooted plants.

          • Becky
          Reply

          Tires and pressure treated wood are full of all kinds of toxins.Please don’t use these in you garden. They will poison the soil, and food that you are growing for you and your family. Happy and safe gardening to you and yours. (tires are made of petroleum products surely you don’t want that in your food YIKES!

            • thescientist

            Plastic containers and bags are made of petroleum products….. and everyone ears out of them and no harm so far it seems…. you could be right but you reasoning and justification is off a bit

            • Jackie

            The is in reply to “thescientist”: No harm comes to them? How many people in this country have illnesses and diseases that never occurred 60 or more years ago, before the advent of the thousands of chemicals we are exposed to every day?? Stop and think before you use things like pressure treated wood and used tires. Do you really want to experiment with your family’s food? Isn’t that why we grow our own, to protect ourselves from commercially grown crops?

            • Bob

            Tires are made from natural latex from the para rubber tree. They may well contain all sorts of nasty stuff (I don’t know), but they are definitely not a petroleum product.

        • Anon
        Reply

        What are tyres?

          • Roy
          Reply

          Tyres are tires in English English.

            • michele

            Actually both ways of writing Tyres is acceptable in English! πŸ˜‰

            • laurin dykstra

            Tyre is a city and tire is what happens when I read these quibbles!

      • sheryl
      Reply

      it doesnt work very well did it for a few years and didn’t get many potatoes out of it..

      • awe
      Reply

      Tires are for cars! They are made for cars. They are tested for cars. They work great on cars. Nobody would care to do any research on growing food in tires. Further more, there is no reason to use tires for growing your food.

        • Keith
        Reply

        Really, cause I have been using tires for years, and I bet I am healthy as an ox. My squash and pumpkins all ready have fruit (July 2nd) where other gardens in the area have little starter plants. My plants are waist high now, with a zillion blooms. Anyone whom has visited my garden has copied it.
        I use discarded tractor tires from local farms. They are bigger and deeper. They are raised and generate heat to the root system.
        Along with the squash I put corn or sunflowers in the middle. Right now my sunflower plants are way over my head.
        Our garden has 29 large tractor, and skidder tires in it.
        Our gardens are made up of recycled everything, raised beds, tires, metal structures (vertical planting), head boards from old beds, old windows for cold beds. I only wish I could post pictures here.

          • Andrea Davis
          Reply

          I would love to see a picture of your garden… I am needing some ideas for mine, so as to cut down on the “weeding”, as my health does not permit me to be efficient at that anymore… Thank you in advance!!

            • neb

            its work putting them but stock tanks work great for raised beds drill a bunch of holes in the bottom fill with dirt and grow away after the work of putting them in it was great no bending over to weed as they are 24″ deep

        • Big_Andy
        Reply

        Actually, the tyre methos was developed by savvy gardeners in the UK in WWII when a ready supply of new wood etc wasn’t available, and everybody grow veg to help the war effort. All the illnesses we suffer now rather than 60 years ago is partially down to better diagnosing by docs, worse lifestyles we all live and other combined effects around us. I wouldn’t really worry about any (if at all) chemicals from old tyres that have (probably) leeched any manufacturing chemicals off (and I doubt very much the picking up nasties on the outside walls when you’re using the inside if the tyre.

          • Linda
          Reply

          Tires worked great. I built a tower with them, filled with dirt and was huge amount of potatoes. the first time I did it, only got a few as I used dirt that was to heavy, but 2nd time was wonderful as I mixed in hay and such to lighten. my dad always used tires for tomatoes as well. help is the first stages of growth as it retains warmth for the plant.

        • kedwa30
        Reply

        Lots of people have access to old tires that have been improperly disposed of. Finding ways to repurpose what otherwise might be burned resulting in air pollution is a good way to save a little money. Make do with what you have handy. I wouldn’t go out of my way to obtain tires, certainly wouldn’t go buy them new for this purpose, but there is really nothing wrong with using them as a support for growing potatoes in a limited space when the tires are taking up the space anyway.

        The water that comes off the roof has a little bit of tar from the shingles, and that is going right into the yard where the food is grown anyway. Yes, toxins are in tires, but as long as they stay in the tires then they won’t get into the potatoes. Honestly the fluoride added to drinking water is a lot more harmful. We live in a polluted world and we must eat. There is nothing pristine about the growing conditions on factory farms. If you want pollution free food, you must grow it in a lab environment.

        I think the important thing here is to enable people who don’t have a lot to be able to become more independent. You don’t have to eat them, but if you tend a crop every year and keep a supply of the seed (eyes) then you will be prepared for the worst.

      • Eric Wolf
      Reply

      Tires have not been pure rubber for over a hundred years. If you use tires in your garden you are importing heavy metals into your soil, crop and at some point you. While the chemical into the tire myth is false. The tire does pick up a fair amount of heavy metals dust – also the tire structure it’s self contains a number of toxic metals and chemicals. Tires are not a good idea for human food production.

        • Echo
        Reply

        OK!! for all of you saying that tires and pressure treated wood is bad for growing veggies….

        Remove all tire swings from backyards, parks, school yards, campgrounds, church playgrounds, etc.

        Also remove all pressure treated lumber from your decks, porches, house construction, sandboxes, playgrounds, wooden jungle gym sets, etc…

        i think you kinda get the picture…

          • Judy
          Reply

          Yes, we have plastic bags, plastic containers, additives to food, pressure-treated lumber, and thousands of other chemicals in our air, water, food, personal care products, household products…there are a lot of toxins in our world today, some that take years in your body to express illnesses/diseases (when your immune system gets too overloaded to handle them anymore). Why add to the burden when there are other alternatives?
          Do what you can & avoid what you can & grow your own organic food.
          There are also plants that you can plant to help take toxins out of your garden soil (ie, comfrey, etc). Look into permaculture for an easy, organic way of growing food, even in small spaces.

          • ellie
          Reply

          I don’t eat food on the deck, swings, jungle gym, lumber, playground or schooL though. I think you are taking it a little to the extreme! Let’s not get carried away!

    • patricia sutton
    Reply

    HI,
    What a great idea for a small garden like mine!
    I have downsized since retiring and miss growing my own potatoes, i grow everything else in containers and flower beds.
    Has anyone in the uk tried this? as i don’t recognise the varieties of potatoes that have been spoken about in this article, if so have you tried it with any uk popular varieties? i would like to give it a go, i will let you know how i get on, and if anyone else in uk has any luck i would be interested to hear about it. and what varieties have been succsesful

      • colin
      Reply

      UK answer both QVC and Ideal World c640 and 644 both sell kits for growing container spuds with the differing types for the various growing periods up till a Christmas crop
      If you go on line to the QVC site you will find a link to Richard Jackson’s blog
      that will advise you, also you can Email him … no limit to the amount of help you can get with QVC UK ..

      • Paula
      Reply

      Laundry basketss

      • Michael Hawn
      Reply

      Do you plant more potatoes at each layer or level. Or does the one original main leafy stem produce layer apron layer of potatoes?

        • Mike
        Reply

        Potatos are strange – as the lower leaves are covered they turn into roots then produce potatos.

          • Brian
          Reply

          Potatoes and tomatoes are related species. All the little hairs on a tomato plant will turn to roots if you hill the plants and thus, provide the plants with more nutrition.

          • Alan Anderson
          Reply

          Hi,
          I am finding that extra roots are not being produced by my potatoes.
          My towers only produce potatoes below the original plant

      • lori murray
      Reply

      Patricia, My brother lives in Montana high in the mountains & grows his in garbage bins which have wheels. Starts them on Good Friday & when the weather is cold he wheels it in the garage. When the bin is full of soil it will be very heavy though but by then the weather should be warm enough. We grow keenebec white potatoes & this year I also tried the red. If using the straw for growing medium it shouldn’t weigh as much. One thing I did learn was to drill 1/2 – 3/4″ holes in the sides & bottom for draining & air circulation. They are in rows going vertically about 6″ apart. I didn’t measure. Also learned from someone else a layer of pine needles between layers of soil/compost is important so am trying that this year. Good Luck!

        • Penny in Colorado
        Reply

        Thanks for posting, Lori. That idea sounds well worth trying in chilly Colorado next year.
        This year I’m growing spuds in lighter-colored Rubbermaid 18 gallon (& bigger) containers. I heated an awl on the stove & made drainage holes with that. I make approx 4″ layers of fresh straw, semi-composted straw (from my last season’s straw bale garden), compost & shredded leaves as the plants grow.
        Last year I used big black pots and black grow-bags, and did sort of OK (well anyway somewhat better than the miserable harvest the year before with wire mesh potato towers). I feel that the black plastic got the contents too hot, hence trying lighter colors this year.
        I paid particular attention to that tip about Yukon Golds (see article at top) not doing well in towers – wish I’d read it a couple of months sooner!
        My tip is that the seed potatoes grow amazingly fast & need a lot of room – try not to crowd them.

      • Ethan
      Reply

      When I was little, in London, about twenty years ago, my mother always used two “worm bins” – one for compost, and one for growing ‘taters!
      Once they’d all grown we’d all tip the bin over and us kids’d scrabble through trying to find the funniest spuds. πŸ™‚

      • Garry
      Reply

      hi my first season with this didn’t work so good. I did everything as per the instructions, adding soil as the potatoe stalks grew. When I went to harvest in the fall I had very tall and robust potatoe stalks however only maybe 5-8 potatoes at the very bottom of the 2×2 bin? What do you think happened? Why didn’t the potatoes form all the way up the bin?

        • JH
        Reply

        I am totally just shooting in the dark here without more informnation. But, if you followed everything in th instructions, have you checked that you had adequate levels of sunlight during the whole season?

        I did a similar system like this in an urban gardening environment. It took me the first year to get the whole garden installed and only was able to plant a couple beds the first year. An already existing tree below my garden (on a very minor but obvious slope) was the perfect thing to shade seedlings and aid starts at transplant. But in the second year it was growing really tall because it essentially had all the runoff of the garden nutrients. I didn’t realize this and planted potatoes with this method but it did not amount to much I think because it simply didn’t get enough light. In the 5th year the tree essentially blots out the entire lower portion of the garden, so it is primarily used for herbs, chives etce. etc.

        • J. Eaton
        Reply

        Also, make sure you’re using the “right” potatoes. Some varieties don’t do well in bins.

      • Debbie
      Reply

      I have grown potatoes in tires stacked on top of each other as the sprout comes thru I add more dirt till I get to the heighth I want. Then when they are done, I take off each tire.

      • Mike
      Reply

      I did not his last year. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
      However, it found that a 4×4 cube box requires β€œA LOT” of soil, etc. to fill it up.
      I finally quit when box was half full. Made potatoes, but not worth the effort of finding or buying enough soil to fill the box.

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