POTATOES 7 ways to plant potatoes
1. Hilled Rows
2. Straw Mulch
3. Raised Bed
4. Grow Bag
5. Garbage Bag
6. Wood Box
7. Wire Cylinder
If you don’t have garden space for potatoes, don’t worry — you can grow them in towers! Potato towers are a productive and space-saving way to harvest some fresh spuds. The technique is easier on your back and more fun for your kids.
How to build a potato tower:
Using chicken wire, heavy-gauge wire, or even wooden fencing, make a cylinder that’s two or three feet in diameter and three or four feet tall. Secure the cylinder with wire fasteners. Place the cylinder on cultivated ground so it gets at least six hours of sunlight, is near the house and water spigot.
If your cylinder is made from wire, line the inside of the cage with hay, straw, cardboard, or newspaper to prevent the soil from falling through the gaps. All of these materials will decompose. Put a 4-inch-thick layer of compost in the bottom of the cylinder.
You’ll need four or five seed potatoes (or pieces), each containing at least three ‘eyes.’ Place the potatoes on top of the compost, six inches apart. Don’t use grocery-store potatoes because the varieties may be susceptible to disease and have usually been treated with sprout inhibitors.
Consider growing different-colored potato varieties to give your kids a real thrill. Select varieties such as ‘All Blue,’ ‘All Red,’ and ‘Yukon Gold.’
Cover the potatoes with a 3-4 inch layer of soil. Water well.
As the potato plants grow, cover them with more compost. To save money, you can also use a mix of compost and topsoil or potting soil.
When the soil line is six inches below the top of the cylinder, stop adding soil and let the potato plants continue to grow. Keep well watered.
By later summer the plants begin to yellow. It’s time to harvest! Remove the wire fasteners holding the potato tower together and watch as the soil and spuds come tumbling out. Save the soil for use in another container or spread it in your garden.
You can harvest them by either digging up a few potato plants entirely or by minimizing the amount of disturbance to the plant by digging out only a few of the small new potatoes and leaving the rest of the plant intact through the end of the summer to grow storage potatoes. After harvesting, place in the sun for two to three hours to dry, brush off the soil, do not wash until ready to use. Cure the tubers in a 50° to 60°F room out of direct sun for two weeks. Then store them in a cool (40°F) basement or garage for up to six months, depending on the variety. If storage temperatures are too high, potatoes tend to soften and sprout. Store in a dark place to prevent greening and layer between sheets of newspaper so if one spoils it will not spread to the whole lot.
Tubers come in three main types: baking potatoes, the most starchy, which become dry and fluffy when cooked; boiling potatoes, the least starchy; and all-purpose potatoes. Any variety harvested before it develops its full amount of starch is considered a new potato. New potatoes are young, sweet and tender. They are ready at or shortly after the potato plants have bloomed. Harvest as you would fully mature potatoes, using a garden fork to dig down about six inches around the plant.
There are so many kinds of potatoes!