Potato Tower

The potato tower is a type of raised bed.

The basic principle is that the installation is filled step by step during the year alongside the growth of the potato plant.

Objectives

  • Increase of crop production while using less space (use of the vertical instead of the horizontal dimension).
  • When the soil is poor or polluted, the tower enables cultivation in a richer/clean soil and thus ensures either an increase or the quality of the crop.
  • Learning process for the group that participates in the construction and cultivation: in gardening, construction, planning…

Materials

Potato tower in wooden materials:

  • Wooden pallets
  • Nails and a hammer/screws and a screwdriver or a saw if the tower is to be assembled
  • Wire mesh (+stones) at the bottom as protection against mice

Potato tower in wire mesh tube:

  • Wire mesh
  • Wooden sticks
  • Leaves

Potato tower in plastic container:

  • Plastic container

Implementation

Before the construction, it is necessary to think about seasons, about exposure to the sun and about watering the potatoes, in order to define when is a good time and place to do it.

Also, the gardeners will deconstruct the tower to harvest the potatoes and maybe re-use the materials for the year after, so it is better to loosely assemble the tower rather than to nail the materials together.

The following principle is applied, no matter which type of tower: if the growing potato plant has reached a height of about 15 cm, add soil until the plant is almost covered. This should, in theory, increase the yield of the potato crop.

Construction of a wooden tower

Position the first layer (drainage holes must be made) and make sure you have additional layers.

The construction of the layers takes around 2 days for one person, when made out of wooden pallets.

The installation of the tower takes a couple of hours.

In the spring a pre-germinated potato is placed into the first layer of soil. Then, when the plant has grown a maximum 15 cm from the soil, the next layer is placed above. The new layer is filled with soil. This can be repeated several times throughout the year.

On a 50x50cm large potato tower, it is possible to plant 5 to 8 potatoes.

It takes around 70 days for the potatoes to grow enough to add a new layer.

For the harvest, the tower will be disassembled layer by layer.

Evaluation

Positive/negative feedback from the participants.

Efficiency of the technique in terms of production.

Possibility to re-use the materials for the year after.

Tips

Construction of a "Wire mesh tube" potato tower

This is a very fragile construction, therefore steel bars for stability are necessary. To prevent the soil from falling out of the tower, put leaves between the soil and the wire mesh.

The wire mesh tube also has a bottom made of wire mesh (first: construction of the wall, then: the bottom was added). To secure this fragile / shaky construction, fill it with stones (against mice + to stabilize the construction).

On top we planted a tagetes in order to repel roundworms.

Construction of potato tower in a plastic container

Make holes in the bottom of the container to ensure drainage.

According to the directional growth of the plants fill the container with soil.  For example when there are no holes on the side, the plants can only grow vertically. With holes, the plants also grow horizontally.