From trenching through to no-dig methods, I think I’ve tried them all. Now though, I’ve stumbled across another method and I think this might be a winner.
Potato towers are designed for those that don’t have that much space to grow veggies in. Potatoes, when planted in the ground, take up a lot of space and because there’s not a lot of emphasis on how good freshly harvested potatoes are, a lot of gardeners tend not to worry about them.
That’s totally understandable. I would have always said that if space is an issue, don’t bother with spuds. But that needs not be the case any more.
The potato tower takes the method of growing them in tyres and removes the problem of cadmium leaching that can happen.
Essentially you’re replacing the tyres with a ring of straw and filling that ring with your soil and potatoes. It sounds simple, and it is.
I used Lucerne straw to then line the ring of mesh, pressing it firmly against the wall. Keep the wall thick, making sure no light is poking through. In this method, cheaper forms of straw will work just as well. Then you need to fill the hole with some good, clean garden soil.
By clean I mean make sure there are no African black beetle larvae, slaters or bugs in amongst it all. Throw in some blood and bone, organic fertiliser and definitely add some potash. Potatoes love potassium.
Fill the hole with the soil and lay your eyeing potatoes down around the edge. This should encourage them to grow out towards the light, rather than in and up.
As soon as the green shoots appear, run another ring of straw around the tower and then just cover the leaves with a mix of rich soil and loose straw. This will encourage new shoots to appear from the stems and as a consequence, hopefully more potatoes.
Below are two images from my first tower. It produced 2.5kg of spuds that are simply delicious and free of curl-grub damage that I usually get.
The other towers don’t look as productive so I’ll be refining this process over the years. Taken on the 21st of February.