three different ways to grow potatoes

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Andy and I along with the kiddos have loved planting potatoes each year in our garden.  When Will and Emma were younger, we would go out to the garden and hunt for dinosaur eggs!  I think the excitement of carefully digging and searching for the little “eggs” have stuck with Will and Emma over the years…  And now, their excitement has been passed down to their baby sister.  Planting the garden  is a family affair!  

After a few warm days, I was itching to get something in the ground.  I took my idea for the potatoes to Andy…  Normally he gets super nervous when I start taking about what’s in my head…  Y’all! He loved it!   After explaining the “game plan” to our friend Thomas, he shared what he remembered his grandmother had done back in the day…  Finding old tires, she would stack them “a mile high”,  add dirt and seed potatoes.  At harvest time they would have more potatoes than they could possibly eat!  I know!  Growing potatoes in tires!  Okay, I am thinking we go all out here…  We plant all these different potatoes ALL these different ways.  Then, wait and see which is the best!  I already had the old tires ~ so, really we were set! Seriously, this job was just getting easier by the minute for Andy! !  

So after a lot of talking and reminiscing and thinking about the best way to grow potatoes…  We settled on three different methods we had not tried before.  Below, you will find a little more details about each method of growing potatoes…

We will check back at harvest time to report which method worked best for our family!  

The Wire Tower…

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And this is how we did it…

  • took a roll of 4′ wire fencing cut to the desired circumference of tower
  • connect the end pieces  together by bending and hooking the cut ends together.
  • find the perfect spot in your garden or yard for the  Potato Wire Tower.  Place a thin layer of hay at the bottom of the tower directly n top of the ground.  We used feed hay, not want it to sprout grass.  
  • place a layer of dirt on top of the layer of hay.  As we dumped a layer of dirt, I would rake up the hay, pulling it up on the sides to help contain the dirt.  
  • you are ready now for your first layer of potatoes.  I cut my potatoes making sure each piece had an “eye” on it, the beginning of a shoot!  Let your potatoes sit for a couple of days to get more shoots to appear.  I placed them in a circle closest to the wire with the shoot facing towards wire.  
  • next, another layer of your dirt, followed by a layer of hay for you to rake up on the sides.
  • continue this process of dirt, potatoes, hay, dirt, potatoes…  until the tower is completely full.
  • at harvest time, we will lay the tower on its side and open up the sides revealing all the little “dinosaur eggs” hopefully inside!

This is our first time for trying the WIRE potato tower and we are super excited!  

The Wooden Tower… 

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Blog - WW-Farm Life-potatoes

This was the first idea that I shared with Andy…  I think this is the one he thinks will work the best.  He likes the whole concept of adding the boards as the plant grows and removing them one by one from the bottom as you harvest the potatoes.  

  • starting out with some scrap wood, we (and I say that loosely)  built a square with legs.  We happened to have some 2×6 and 2×2 pieces of wood lying around…  We used the 2×6’s for the sides and the 2×2’s for the legs.  We were a little happy in making the box and made it super large!  Hey…  we were excited!  Put a saw and a drill in Andy’s hand and he gets a little excited…
  • Andy cut extra boards for the sides to be added as the plant grows.  We stored these to added later.
  • found a perfect spot and placed the frame in the garden.  Once started, you will not be able to move.  This was seriously heavy!  And this goes for all of the different methods listed here in this post.  Where you start it, is where it is gonna stay!
  • starting at the bottom with a good heaping of dirt.  To be a little more exact, we filled it up two boards high.
  • we then placed about 6 potatoes in the box.  For a smaller square, I would use less potatoes. I placed them along the side and in the center.
  • after potatoes came another good layer of dirt to cover the potatoes.
  • as the plants begin to grow, we will add more dirt and as we add more dirt, we will add more boards to the side.  
  • repeat this process until the plant has reached the top.
  • at time of harvest, you will start at the bottom, removing each board and feeling for the potatoes!  Oh yeah! USE screws and not nails!

Andy was on a roll and whipped out two more, one for his mom and one for mine!  They were super excited to have a go at growing their own potatoes in the wooden tower. 

The Tire Tower… (say that 10 times, fast!)

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Blog - WW-Farm Life-tire tower Again, this was Thomas’s grandmothers method of growing potatoes…  IT is super easy and fun for me and the kids to make!  They loved the idea of having the tires in the garden!

  • find the perfect spot in your yard or garden. Place an old tire on the ground.  
  • completely fill with dirt.
  • cut your potatoes and place about 3-4 in your tire, then cover with a good layer of dirt.
  • when you begin seeing the plant shoot up from the dirt you will place a second tire on your first tire.
  • adding another layer of dirt leaving part of the plant showing.
  • repeat this process with the plant as it grows, adding more dirt and more tires.
  • at harvest time you will start with the top tire, removing each and feeling and searching for potatoes!

Okay…  So, when to harvest potatoes?  We harvest our potatoes when the plant has flowered and the plant is dying back.  Good luck and hope you have a ton of potatoes!  And be careful digging ~ you do not want to damage your potatoes!

One more thing…  here is a little info on storing potatoes over the winter.

Happy gardening!

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*April 24, 2015 UPDATE to this post originally published May 9, 2013:

At the end of the season we clearly decided the Wire Tower was by far the BEST method to growing and harvesting potatoes!  I will also add that neither us or our moms had any luck with the Wooden Tower. The Tire Tower was fun to undo when time to harvest and we did get a few potatoes…  BUT, we are sticking with the Wire Tower!

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Author: Natalie

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