Potato tower epic fail...

04 March, 2014

A while ago I decided to trial a potato tower, whereby I build wire cages and planted potatoes in the bottom, with the plan of when the potatoes grew up above the soil I would heap up more soil and hopefully get a greater yield.

This was the current status of the potato tower.

The potato plants had died back a couple of weeks ago, but I left them there as I felt no pressing need to harvest them. But this weekend I had people over for dinner and wanted to provide most, if not all, of the veg for the meal from the garden.

So I dismantled the wire cages, pulled out the star pickets and rummaged around in the tower of soil and compost, spreading it out over the bed as I went.

This was my harvest.

Epic. Fail.

Yes, that there is the harvest from the two dismantled potato towers.

Good thing they were volunteer potatoes, not bought seed potatoes. Otherwise I would have been really, really disappointed.

Even the volunteer beetroots from the same bed were a better harvest.

Ah well. At least I now have a nice bed ready for some brassica seedlings.

But luckily, that was not my only potato potential.

Sorry for the blurry shot, but in the foreground is the sad looking remains of another volunteer potato plant. These I planted into holes dug maybe 30cms deep, and then were heaped up with soil and some dirty straw from the ducks' pen.

I decided to have a bit of a dig around. What did I have to lose?

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Thank goodness for that.

Now at least I'll have a starch to feed my guests.

After all, what is a roast without roast spuds?

So overall, I can't say I'm impressed with the potato tower method. I don't think they were much drier, as I only watered them once and they never got too dry looking. Maybe it was the magic fertilisation powers of the duck pen dirty straw that broke the potatoes back, so to speak.

I don't know.

But I'm thinking I'll just go with the standard plant-the-potato-in-the-ground-and-hill-up method next year.

Unless anyone has any other suggestions. Feel free to let me know if there is another way to trial.


  1. The trouble with volunteer spuds is you don't know how big they are - they could be a whopper that you missed, or half the size of your little fingernail. You'll still get quite a lot of top growth off the tiny ones but almost no spuds.

    1. Ah, we are not on the volunteer potato same page.
      My volunteer potatoes were bought ones that were in the pantry a little too long and started growing, which I planted out.
      I do have other volunteer potatoes like you suggest, where I am very dubious of any worthwhile crop at all. But I'll have a dig around with those ones too, one day.

  2. I grow a lot of my potatoes in tires. Same concept, but it's probably easier to construct a tire tower than a wire one. I only usually stack it 2 high, but would do more if I had more tires! I've always had great success growing potatoes this way, and it really is similar to the method you used so I'm really surprised you had such a bad harvest! I suppose they just didn't come from good volunteer potatoes. Bummer! Glad the old fashioned method worked out for you at least.

    1. That would work! I have heard though that tyres might leach potentially harmful chemicals into the soil. But I don't know if that's fact or not.
      Either way, you've inspired me to give the tower method another try, in one way or another. Cheers!

  3. Gosh, I didn't mean to laugh, really, but that really that first lot wasn't too good was it. The second photo, much better crop. I have never bought seed potatoes, I plant manky ones from under the sink cupboard...They grow enough for us. I try all sorts of ways and have even grown them in a cardboard box...husband likes them in the garden as he thinks I am a too messy gardener. Hmpt! As long as it feeds us I'm not fussed where or how anything grows...


    1. Don't worry, I laughed too. (It was laugh, or cry.) Interesting. I've always bought seed potatoes, but maybe I'll just go on with any that decide they want to grow.
      Hmpt indeed! I'm with you on that one.

  4. That really was an epic fail, wasn't it. ;-) I've never tried a potato tower, mainly because I've never actually got potatoes to form anywhere but at ground level, even when I do hill up the soil. I grow them in large wire circles (but never as tall as yours), mainly to keep the rabbits from eating the leaves and gradually add mulch and stuff around them as they grow, but they never form in the mulch only at the level I originally planted them.

    1. It very much was :)
      Thanks for your experience. I've never paid that much attention, just rummaged to see what was there. But I've heard of the potato tower so many times that I thought I'd give it a go. Can't say I'm that impressed, but that is probably my poor growing skills. There wasn't even anything at the soil level with these spuds.