In the allotment garden there are always corners that are unsuitable or too small for most cultivation methods. Today I wanted to show you a creative way to grow potatoes. We build a potato tower from a wire mesh, lawn cuttings and compost. Let’s try it out together and I’ll keep you informed with progress reports.
The technology of the potato tower
The potato tower is a form of vertical cultivation of potatoes. In traditional cultivation, potatoes consume a large area in terms of yield. Anyone who wants to harvest in the allotment garden in a variety of ways, as we do, may be reluctant to plan large areas for a single culture.
The Potato Tower is a great alternative because it can easily harvest up to 20 kg (depending on variety and environmental conditions) on 1 m².
In this garden season we want to try the technique with two potato towers. The varieties we have selected include “Laura”, “Bamberger Hörnchen”, “Violetta” and several other varieties. More about this in autumn after the harvest.
For our first project of vertical gardening, we need a piece of wire mesh about 1 m high and 2 m wide. This can be done with fine-meshed rabbit wire or a coarse-meshed screed mat. Two planting sticks or thin branches that are about 10-20 cm longer than the wire mesh is high are also helpful. You also need cable ties, wire or thick parcel cords to connect it.
In addition to the “building material” we need a whole wheelbarrow of lawn cuttings or two to three kilograms of straw. We took lawn cuttings because we first mowed our lawns. The advantage of lawn pruning is that it begins to rot, generating heat and nutrients. There is also plenty of compost (about two to three wheelbarrows) and pregerminated or special seed potatoes. ((Approx. 2.5 kilograms of seed potatoes per tower))
As tools you might need a pair of pliers.
The construction of the potato tower
In the first step, a column is formed from the wire mesh. This is secured with wire or cable ties and supported with two planting sticks or long branches. We had leftovers of the hazelnut from the spring cut.
The basic shape of the potato tower is thus given. Now it’s time for the stuffing.
So that the earth in the tower does not sponge out, does not dry out and is supplied with sufficient heat at the beginning, we lay a narrow edge ((max. 10 cm)) of lawn cuttings or straw. This serves as a vertical mulch layer.
In the middle of it comes the compost. This is how you build the tower in layers. Every 20 cm a layer of pregerminated potatoes or special seed potatoes is planted. It is important that the potatoes are arranged at the edge between the compost and the lawn cuttings. In the further course the potato herb should have the possibility to grow through the mulch layer to the outside. Depending on the size of the potatoes, a distance of at least 10 cm should be maintained between the individual specimens.
The last layer of lawn cuttings and compost should be approx. 40 cm high. The surface is then planted from above, either with more seed potatoes or, as soon as the ice saints are over, with sweet potatoes.
The potato plants should not only grow out of the tower on the surface, but also laterally through the lattice during the next weeks. So that the structure becomes more and more a green pillar. It only needs to be ensured that the soil remains evenly moist. It is important to water regularly on a covered terrace and on hot summer days. A tower that occasionally receives rain may not need any additional water, as the vertical mulch layer should protect it from drying out.
Goal and/or advantage of the potato tower
In addition to the space advantage, the potato tower has other positive aspects to offer. This should simplify the harvest. After the herb has dried, the tower only has to be knocked over. The connections can be loosened and you can collect the potatoes without digging.
In addition, the tower will become green because the potato plants will not only grow upwards but also laterally out of the structure.
So much for the theory and our previous construction results. I will continue to tell you how things are going.
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