Potato, Potahto

No matter how you say it, I’m happy to report that our potato towers were a success!    And we’re pretty impressed.

Let’s revisit the process, shall we?  (you can read about the whole process here).

First, we built these potato towers because our small garden wasn’t conducive to planting them normally.

 

Next, we secured them a spot in our yard (after consulting the master plan of course).

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Finally, we added some fresh compost to the bottom of the towers and placed our starter spuds:

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The idea is to have the potatoes grow UP. So to do this, you cover the starters with some more soil, then straw.

Once you see the potato stems poking through the straw, add more.  Continue adding straw until the tower is full.  Hopefully by early fall your towers look something like this:

potato-towers-6-s

No, these aren’t ours.  But for the life of me I can’t find my “progress pics” that I snapped.   You get the idea.  Ours didn’t look quite as good because we ran out of straw about 3/4 way up the tower. 

And truthfully I think we both kind of ran out of garden-gusto, so we called it good.

Now for the fun part though:  harvest time!

We read that you shouldn’t harvest potatoes until mid-to-late fall after the vines have died back.  Here’s what our towers looked like after letting all the foliage die down for a while:

I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a wee bit skeptical at this point.   But when The Hubs dug down into the straw (um, yeah, like I would do that!  There are a million daddy-long-legs that live in there!) he pulled out one of these:

And then another, and another and another!

We got so excited we dug out all of the russets, all of the reds and all of our carrots too. 

Sah-weet!!  Check out the size of those carrots and red potatoes!

After a little bit of cleaning, here’s what the harvest looked like:

The russet potatoes didn’t get quite as big as the reds.  I’m not sure if the starter we picked wasn’t meant for this growing region…if we didn’t let them go long enough….or what.  But the reds are awesome!  Check out the size of some of these….

Needless to say, we’re pretty stoked. 

We were also pleasantly surprised with the size of our carrots.  We had heard that carrots might not get very big due to the size of our garden (it’s only about six inches deep (twss)).  And while not every carrot is huge, I think we got a good range of big’uns and little’uns. 

All-in-all, we’re happy.   We will definitely be planting the towers again next year and maybe trying a different kind of russets.  Just to see if we can’t get some bigger ones (The Hubs likes to make stew out of ’em, so bigger would probably be better).  But we’ll definitely keep the reds going again because they seemed to do great.

A few things we learned:

  • Potatos like lots of water.  Water them often!
  • Buy more straw than you think you’ll need.  When you run out mid-season you’re not always motivated to go find more.  And I think our results would have been even better if we could have filled the entire tower with it. 
  • The potatoes aren’t actually growing throughout the tower like we thought they would.  From the beginning we thought the potatoes would be dispersed throughout the straw…but we actually found that all of them were at the bottom of the tower.  Most were even down in the dirt, so The Hubs had to dig around a little bit to find them.  I’ve never planted potatoes in the ground before, but it seems like the towers aren’t saving you much other than some vine-organization.  But I’m ok with that.  I certainly don’t want potato vines running rampant in our yard.  So maybe it’s worth it for organization-sake.  Or maybe burying potatoes is a lot more work than just digging around in the top inch of soil or so….anyone know?

We’re pretty excited about all these taters.  In fact we’ve got some dutch oven stew on the menu soon.  Stay tuned!

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