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Billy Tries “Taters In Tires” With Poor Results

This post was sent in from Billy G. – and apparently, he didn’t have such great success at growing potatoes in tires.

Here’s Billy’s story:

potatoes small photoIn 2013, I tried growing potatoes in stacked tires.  I planted mine in the tires with some very good soil  Covered them and added soil and tires as they grew (3 tires high).  The foliage looked great.  At the same time and with the same seed potatoes, I planted some in my row type garden.  I noticed during the season the soil in the tires dried out quickly.  I watered them more than the row crop to compensate.  At harvest, my production rate was approximately 60% in the tires compared to the row crop.

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This post was written by Marjory

COMMENTS(0)

  • gena says:

    It might have to do with the amount of petroleum products used in the manufacture of times. Plastics also contain a large amount of petroleum byproducts. That is my best guess as to why they may not be the best things to grow stuff in. I would imagine the petroleum would eventually leech out into the food products. But that is just my best GUESS.

  • Dale says:

    I tried once to grow potatoes in a stack of tires, and I had the same issue: Nice foliage, but a handful of marble-sized potatoes. I also tried it in a cylinder made of chicken wire with the same effect. Growing them in trenches that are filled in as the potatoes grow has been better, but I’m still looking for the system that has big yields.

  • Jerry says:

    Marjorie,
    Re: tire toxicity check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthship and Michael Reynolds. He has his view (tire gas off is vented out of the house) but there will be links/hints to the studies done on tire toxicity generally….a good place to start your learning on the subject.

    Best,
    Jerry

  • John R says:

    I have tried to grow tators in 55 gallon barrels, in 55 gallon barrels cut in half, in tires stacked, and I have had very, very poor results. Watch u-tube videos of people that have posted videos as to how they planted, and then their harvest. I have never seen a good harvest.
    I use a large tractor tire as a raised bed garden and I am still alive. So I don’t know about leaching, and I for one am not going to worry about. In this day and age I have enough to worry about.

    1. John, yes, there really is better things to worry about…

  • Robin Hart-Cordell says:

    Hello

    I have used tires – with one sidewall cut out – to build retaining walls along my driveway. 38 years later they’re fine.

    After placing a row of these along the desired area, I filled them with soil, then placed another row on top of the first, each additional row set back 1/2 tire width from the row beneath and each tire in upper rows overlapping two of the tires in the row below – and so on until reaching the desired grade. I put (grass/weeds) sod into the accessible spaces left in the tires, so it all grew/rooted together and stayed that way, despite suggestions from others who said the frost would push them outward. Despite over 35 years of long northern Maine winters with as low as -35 degree temps, they have never heaved – these were as high as three feet in the deepest places.

    I don’t know about toxicity. I’ve heard of people using tires in the garden, without reflection on that issue. As a 45-year experienced mechanic (bicycle, auto, trucks, home-made tractors, etc.) tires are NOT anything I would consider for my garden. They’re not all “natural” rubber (from rubber plants). They may contain a mixture of natural rubber and synthesized rubber (plastics), plus additives that facilitate tire performance, probably with little consideration for the breakdown substances (decay by time, sun, physical stress, abrasion, etc.)

    I’ll mention “straw bale gardens” (there’s a book by Joel Karsten) as an alternate, but that probably won’t stop the gophers – they might even thrive in them. This uses rows of (decaying) straw bales, plus added nitrogen (fertilizer – organic or not) to assist the straw’s decay, plus added soil around each plant (to begin) with trellis-like beam above – with hanging strings to support the plants. I bought the book, but haven’t implemented this possibility yet – till clearing land: stumps & rocks, building composting area (& shed this summer).

    I have grown plants in 5-gallon pails (pails originally containing petroleum oils & tranny fluid, etc.) with holes drilled in the bottom to prevent excess rain accumulation. I hesitated using them for food, due to the possibility of leeching chemicals from the plastic – so only for flowers. I wouldn’t hesitate if using pails made of “food-grade” plastic.

    In pails – AS Billy G. mentioned with his tires experiment – the soil dries out easily, requiring lots of watering (2 liters per day) compared to in-ground plants – and this is in northeast Maine, NOT hotter/drier southwestern territory. We MAY get some 90-degrees days here – but rarely and not prolonged.

    For the gophers, perhaps raised beds with screen bottoms – that is: (untreated) wooden board sides with screen (perhaps 1/2″ holes) in the bottom to keep critters from burrowing underneath. We use (native) white cedar boards here for that, as the cedar is both rot-resistant and it seems to repel some insects and rodents, too.

    Please edit my descriptions/comments however they may be useful to you.

    I love your articles, Thank you.

    Rob H.

    1. Hi Rob,

      thank you so much for your delightful response.

  • James Agee says:

    I have tried this as well. I even use tires to compost with, stacking layer on layer, adding redworms. Problem that I see with potatoes is, if you dont block off the bottom tire, moles come and go eat the worms and roots (at least how it is here in the Piedmont of NC).

    1. Oh thanks for that warning. The main reason I want to do it is because of go[hers – about the same as moles

  • pete wyckoff says:

    I tried the same concept with a large plastic trashcan last Spring. I drilled some 1/2 inch holes in the bottom and poured about 4-5 inches of pea gravel into the bottom. I put the can up on some bricks to allow for drainage. Poured in some potting soil and planted the potato sets. As the plants grew, I would bury them with more soil. When they got to the top of the can, I let them grow until just before the 1st frost. It worked pretty well. The tire concept would be better because of more direct sunlight, but I was pleased.

    1. Hi Pete,

      Well, I am surprised there was enough light when the potatoes were young… thanks for posting.

    2. Todd says:

      I did the same and the plants grew great. By harvest the branches had grown a total of about 6-8 Feet (buried 3 feet + exposed 3+feet). I filled up the trashcans every week or so. in 3 cans i had a few nice sized tatters but not many about enough to partially fill a gallon pot. I understood that every time they were covered they would send out new roots that would produce new potatoes at that depth.

      I will try again this year but i think i have to bury most of the leaves so the roots can grow out of the connections of the leaf to stem. like doing a cutting on plants and getting new roots. Or lay down the real tall ones a bit so there is about a 1 foot new soil per layer.

      Is this the secret to the potato tower and having layers of potatoes?

  • Scott Rivers says:

    I don’t have a definite answer on whether potatoes would absorb toxins from the tire, but tires are made from petrochemicals, not latex (rubber), and I’d be wary because tire contains several volatile organic compounds. I’d also be wary of this stuff as playground cover. For more information, see http://www.ehhi.org/reports/turf/.

    1. That was an interesting paper. They focus on tires that have been shredded and essentially reduced to sand size particles. Hmmm, I do recall being on kids playgrounds and they have a smell to them…

  • TommyD says:

    A search, “planting in tires; toxicity” using DuckDuckGo returned many opinions. The main gist of what I read seems to be, every one has their own opinion.
    A lot has to do with the age of the tires. Having had a full service life on the road, and then being stored outdoors for years in all weather, would have taken care of any leaching of chemicals (like zinc) or outgassing (I think).
    What is to be avoided is using a mulch from ground up tires, as this exposes the previously bound up chemicals.
    Another thing to consider is the heat absorbing properties of black rubber. This might be a good thing in the early spring, but you might want to whitewash the south side of the stack in the heat of summer.
    T

    1. Hi Tommy,

      Oh yes, I like Duckduckgo too – good engine.

      Thanks for your balanced response.

  • Cheryl says:

    I’ve tried tires and garbage cans. I really get a better yield just planting in the ground (and mounding up the soil, of course).

  • Laura says:

    Instead of tires, I’m going to try making my own Henley Potato Tower and see if I get more potatoes this way:

    http://henleypotatotower.co.uk/

    1. Hi Laura,

      That is a pretty neat system. Basically using wood frames in the same way the stacked tires would be used.

      Interestingly they used treated lumber for their frames.

      I also liked the numbers they had on the production;

      “Findlay Lawrence produced 25Kgs of potatoes from a Two-er. Potatoes cost an average of £0.62 per Kg in the UK. This means from his tower which cost him £33 he will have produce £15.50 worth of potatoes per year. If he does this for the next 10 years the potatoes he will produce from the tower will be worth £155.”

  • JJM says:

    A MotherEarth answer starts by suggesting that ‘short term’ is OK and continues with “the tire rubber will slowly biodegrade and release zinc, carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic Tire Planteraromatic hydrocarbons) and other toxic compounds into your garden soil”. My take is that it should be safe as long as you move the tires every season and completely empty them out. http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/recycled-tire-planters-zmaz09fmzpit.aspx
    I do believe that in Texas we would get an early start with the sun heating up the tires but would need to cover with WHITE starting in May.
    Before the mention of growing potatoes in a stack of tires, my neighbor mentioned building up a tall mound of earth, slowly covering the bottom stems which presumably turned into roots. They have not yet gardened that way but were considering using cinder or concrete blocks.

  • clif says:

    I think if it was me I would put a Garbage Bag inside of the tire’s and put hole’s around at the top of each tire and at the bottom of the bag to let the water out and the hole’s at the top of each tire is to let it breathe,I think it would be a better chance of not getting the toxic gas’s from the tire’s.

  • duknott says:

    I’ve used tires with the sidewalls cut out for a lot of things, but they keep the soil too warm for potatoes where I live, even painted white. They work well for stacked compost bins. I have a retaining wall of tires and haven’t noticed any deterioration. Are you sure it’s going to happen? My brother in law’s best crop of potatoes came from just hay piled against the potato plants along the row but that wouldn’t alleviate a gopher problem. You might try feeding your cats a little less.

    1. Oh yes, my absolutely useless cat could stand to go on two diets… my family keeps feeding her.

  • Mary N. says:

    I tried the same experiment 4 or 5 years ago only with a large garbage can. I drilled holes in the bottom and the foliage looked wonderful as I continute to add more good soil and potting mix. But when it came to harvest, they were small and only at the bottom. So to me, the ground works best.

    1. Hi Mary, I’ve always wondered how you would get enough sunlight to the plants in the bottom if you used a big can.

  • Scott says:

    Its the plasticizers that are most dangerous and least talked about. I would bet that you would get more harmful exposure to BpA plastic in your store receipts than from a tire. Just know it will add to the chemical load in your life.

     
    EPA Study Eases Concern of Harmful Chemicals Being Found in Playground Surfaces
    February 16th, 2010
    EPA, in a recent study, found that concentrations of chemicals in recycled tire material were below levels considered harmful. Recycled tire material, or “tire crumb,” is commonly used in synthetic turf sports fields and children’s playgrounds.

    According to EPA, public concerns have been raised in the past several years over the use of tire crumb materials, especially after high levels of lead were reported in some artificial turf fields. In 2009, the Synthetic Turf Council reported that artificial (synthetic) turf has been installed in approximately 4,500 fields, tracks and playgrounds.

    EPA identified a number of chemicals that may be found in tires, although not all are contained in each tire:

    acetone
    aniline
    arsenic
    barium
    benzene
    benzothiazole
    cadmium
    chloroethane
    chromium
    cobalt
    copper
    halogenated flame retardants
    isoprene
    latex
    lead
    manganese
    mercury
    methyl ethyl ketone
    methyl isobutyl ketone
    naphthalene
    nickel
    nylon
    phenol
    pigments
    polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
    polyester
    rayon
    styrene‑butadiene
    toluene
    trichloroethylene
    EPA formed a workgroup in 2008 to consider the threat of tire crumb health effects via inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Laboratory studies were conducted to consider the tire material content, off-gassing, and leaching characteristics. EPA then produced a 105-page document entitled “A Scoping-Level Field Monitoring Study of Synthetic Turf Fields and Playgrounds,” released in November 2009.

    Study findings

    Particulate matter, metals and volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations were measured in the air samples and compared with areas away from the turf fields (background levels). The levels found in air samples from the artificial turf were similar to background levels found in any local air samples. One VOC associated with tire crumb materials (methyl isobutyl ketone) was detected in the samples collected on one synthetic turf field but was not detected in the corresponding background sample.
    No tire-related fibers were observed in the air samples.
    All air concentrations of particulate matter and lead were well below levels of concern.
    More than 90 percent of the lead in the tire crumb material was tightly bound and unavailable for absorption by users of the turf fields.
    Zinc, which is a known additive in tires, was found in tire crumb samples. However, air and surface wipe monitoring levels of zinc were found to be below levels of concern.
    Total extractable metal concentrations from the infill, turf blade samples and tire crumb material varied widely in the samples collected both at a given site and between sites, so it could not be determined to be a function of the presence of crumb material.
    The average extractable lead concentrations for turf blade, tire crumb infill, and tire crumb rubber were low. Although there are no standards for lead in recycled tire material or synthetic turf, average concentrations were well below the EPA standard for lead in soil (400 part per million).
    Likewise, the average extractable lead concentrations for turf field wipe samples were low. Although there are no directly comparable standards, average concentrations were well below the EPA standard for lead in residential floor dust (40 micrograms per square foot).
    The results from this study along with results from other studies conducted by Federal, State, and local organizations, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, will be considered at an EPA meeting planned for Spring 2010. This meeting will help to identify steps to address public questions regarding the safety of tire crumb infill in ball fields and playgrounds.

    For more information, visit EPA’s website http://www.epa.gov/nerl/features/tire_crumbs.html

    Over 200 raw materials go into tire composition.

    The rubber compounds are made up of:
    Elastomers
    Natural rubber

    Milky, white latex, containing rubber globules, is obtained by making an incision into the bark of rubber trees, the cultivation of which requires specific climatic conditions and rainfall. Rubber tree plantations are mainly located in Southeast Asia (including Thailand, the world’s largest producer and Indonesia), Latin America and Africa.
    In compound formulations, natural rubber reduces internal heat generation in tires, whilst offering high mechanical resistance. It is used in many parts of the tire, mainly used for truck and earthmover tire tread.

    Synthetic rubber

    60% of rubber used in the tire industry is synthetic rubber, produced from petroleum-derived hydrocarbons, although natural rubber is still necessary for the remaining 40%.Synthetic elastomers deform under stress and return to their original shape when the stress is removed (hysteresis). This property is extremely valuable for the manufacture of high-grip tires.

    Reinforcing fillers
    Carbon black
    Discovered in 1915, carbon black added to the rubber compound produces a tenfold increase in wear resistance of the tires. It represents 25 to 30% of the rubber composition and gives tires their distinctive color. Indeed, this color is very effective in acting against ultraviolet rays to prevent the rubber from fissuring and cracking.

    Silica
    Silica, obtained from sand, has properties that have long been recognized, including the improved resistance of rubber compounds to tearing. In 1992, Michelin took a major step forward by combining an original silica and a specific elastomer with a special bonding agent using a special “mixing” process.

    Plasticizers (such as oils, resins…)
    And other chemicals elements such as
    Sulphur
    Sulphur is a vulcanizing agent that transforms the rubber from a plastic to an elastic state. Its action is accompanied by retarding and accelerating products used simultaneously during production which optimize the action of heat when the tire is cured.

  • Gene says:

    A quick check on YouTube produced a comparison between in the tires and in a compost bag.Have a look:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DioG5o6iCdc

    1. Hi gene,

      Interesting video – slow going… For those that want the punch line, the potatoes in the bag got quite a bit drier and did not produce as well.

  • Hell if you are afraid of treated timbers you are wasting your energy worrying. They are treated with CCE

    Chromium – not harmful unless inhaled, you would have to consume very large amounts for any toxic effect. It is actually a beneficial nutrient in small quantities.

    Copper – not harmful unless in very large amounts actually a valuable nutrient

    Arsenic – testing of soil in raised beds made with CCE lumber showed now measurable difference in arsenic between soils on other parts of the same property even after 5 years. The average ORGANIC apple will have more arsenic in it then a vegetable grown in a bed made with CCE timber.

    You are breathing more toxins when you clean a rabbit hutch then CCE lumber will add to your diet.

    If anything a tire is more likely to pollute soil then CCE lumber. Now RR ties with creosote is a different matter.

    1. Hi Jack,
      That treated lumber at the big box store is so heavy and yucky. No way.

  • Marilyn says:

    I think we’ve tried it all! LOL – Back to growing in trenches with horse manure/wood chips on top (Back to Eden type of gardening). Anyway, I found that the potatoes got too hot in tires – while I think they would be better served growing sweet potatoes that love heat, I thought the tires would keep things tidy. I grew a LOT of potatoes this year without watering – unlike any other year where I needed tons of water. My son dug the trench, filled the trench – repeat – LOL. That’s what he told everyone. Dig it, fill it with potatoes and cover and then fill it up/over the potatoes and dig the potatoes out, fill it back in. We did find that we didn’t need to hill up so much if we kept a composted deep layer of manure/wood chips over the top. And they certainly didn’t need water. It wasn’t an extreme drought year – but it was no added water. Big plus. This has been the only way we’ve gotten big yields. A plus is that this past year we pulled the potatoes and left the biggest, best one in each spot. We can let you know in spring how this experiment turned out – never overwintered them before. They are in a front bed beside the garlic bed – I will plant some in early spring too. I’m no longer putting all my potatoes in one basket so to speak. Hopefully overwintering them will be a giant plus – only throwing straw on them if they grow too much before this freeze time is over. This will be a good year to learn a lot since it’s been so cold, so long. Well, that’s my 2 cents worth here in KY – transplant from AZ so I know drought and heat!

    1. Hi Marilyn,

      Oh do keep us posted on how that experiment goes.

      Also, thanks so much for posting your location – that helps a lot.

  • I read somewhere that some varieties of potatoes do better than others with that style of growing. I can’t remember where I saw it, but the gist of it was that some varieties only produce potatoes at the bottom level no matter what, while others will send out more roots and grow more potatoes at each stage as you add more soil.

    1. OH, if you find out what those varieties are, please let me know!

  • Donna says:

    I have had extremely poor yields when I tried growing potatoes in tires, a failure-to-thrive result. I have seen potatoes grown in natural fiber coffee sacks (probably burlap) thrive to the point where the roots were growing out of the sack. They were going wild. It was a friend who was growing them and I’m not sure of the yield, but those potatoes were going wild!

    I am now trying growing them in used flour and sugar sacks. The sacks themselves are made of a plastic material, not natural fiber. At first the foliage was thriving, then it started dying off. At this point it’s all but gone. I have checked and found some small potatoes. I’m not sure if I should try to harvest or if the potatoes will still be growing — any advice appreciated.

    Question about the trench system… I have very hard and rocky soil here (Baja Mexico), can I fill the trenches with a soil mixture that has a lot of aged horse manure that has a lot of hay and other plant material mixed into it? That would make it much more feasible for me to harvest instead of having to take my adze/pickaxe to the rock hard soil.

    1. Hi Donna, I bet the trenches ides would be good. Keep it low and cool in Baja.

  • Gary says:

    Hi Marjory,
    First off, I really enjoy your e-mails. You bring up a lot of interesting topics which teach me some new tricks and get me thinking. Thank you.

    Growing potatoes in old tires:
    – I like your thinking in how you can keep adding tires along with more soil to “hill” your plants. I am not sure about the breaking down of the material leaching toxic chemicals into the soil. I will do a bit of research on that. I know a few chemical engineers that might have some insight.
    – In hearing that Billy had a poor crop growing potatoes in tires I have to wonder about the heat generated in a black tires raising the soil temp too high? How large of tires are you thinking of using? And did Billy mention how large the tires were that he used? My thought process falls to the heating of the soil and a lot of tire mass and not enough soil based upon the tire diameter. If he used a tire for a vehicle with a 15″ rim (assume ~ 5″ depth) that would be a soil volume of 883 cubic inches per tire. Now move to a tire for a 20″ rim (still assuming ~5″ depth) and that soil volume goes to 1,570 cubic inches per tire (almost double) Sorry to go geeky on you. I am not even going to try to figure the thermal calculations on tires in the sun. But I hope you see where I am going if you do indeed try to grow potatoes in tires you might want to go with larger tires (truck / SUV). Those are a few thoughts on your experiment.

    1. Hi Gary,

      thanks, yes I had a few questions about billy;s setup too. I guess we need to get more info when people submit cases.

      Quite a controversy with these tires…

  • Diann Dirks says:

    Dear Marjory,
    Tires decompose, they outgas, and they aren’t rubber, they are composite materials. Don’t use them. Do your own research and don’t merely disregard the many people telling you not to use it. If you want to make good potato beds, use old discarded plastic tree planters, build up beds with cinder blocks, or use old barrels. The only way to use tires would be to line them with a non-toxic plastic sheeting, then put in the soil. But they are ugly and they will eventually poison the spot they are lying on. If you want to remain toxic free in what you eat you have to have a toxic free environment to grow things in. You can use straw bales and stack them too. But for really good potato beds, have deep dug high sand and compost content good soil near a pond where the roots can go down and find the moisture.
    Diann Dirks
    Certified Permaculture Designer
    Organic gardener

  • Methane Creator says:

    Marjory, I also feel there are worse things to use or put into our garden soils. I don’t think (I’m no expert or chemist) that whatever leaches out of an old or even a new tire would be that detrimental for human consumption. I even use shredded tires as mulch and although I’m not sick or have an exotic disease, I haven’t been exposed to it my entire life. You could probably eat a Big Mac everyday for lunch, but when you start eating 3 or more a day, you will probably get into trouble. If the tires were unhealthy, then the plants would probably die or get stunted. If not, then they are probably safe. I haven’t seen any epitaphs in the obituaries saying someone died from eating Organic Tire Vegetables either….Love your knowledge and articles.

  • Nancy says:

    I am a very inept gardener. Everything I plant attracts bugs and flies, little creatures that drill holes in strawberries and peppers, and ugly green worms that eat tomatoes. Right now my simple solution to the potential tire toxicity would be to buy a big bag of russets periodically at the supermarket. The nice thing about that is they match the color of my thumb – Ha.
    No offense intended and I hope none taken!

  • Donna says:

    Here is my contribution. Feel free to shorten it! The pictures didn’t come through.
    Here are some ideas for growing potatoes in a wire circle. You can grow russets, purple, yams, etc.
    Curing your yams-
    http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/crops_livestock/crops/sweet_potatoes/LSU+AgCenter+Horticulturist+Discusses+Curing+and+Storing+Sweet+Potatoes.htm

    These potato towers are cool and can be tucked in the smallest of gardens!

    Step 1: Resources

    Here is a list of resources you should have on hand:

    3 to 4′ tall Wire fencing – something with sufficient gauge to retain its form, and be used for a few years,
    Wire cutters,
    Some sort of twisty tie or pliable metal,
    Straw or hay,
    Pure compost (no manure! not even composted!!),
    Water source,
    Potatoes (go for a mix, prettier that way),

    Step 2: Create the frame
    Use the wire cutters to cut out a section of the fence to create a cylinder container, about 2.5 to 3 ft in diameter. I personally find that a 4′ tall, 14 gauge fence works well.

    Use either a twisty tie, a piece of metal wire, or a pipe cleaner to tie the fence ends together.

    The end product would look something like the bin to the left.

    Then collect your compost. I tend to like a clean (meaning no rocks, plastics, etc.) leaf compost, which doesn’t have a lot of large woody chunks.

    3. Create the first layer
    I personally like to use straw to create a barrier inside the bin to both help keep in the compost, and to reduce water-loss due to evaporation. Though it can be done without the straw, just make sure to use a fence with smaller holes to keep the compost from spilling out.

    I first lay down a 2-3″ layer of straw on the bottom then create a ‘bird nest’ inside the bin. The straw naturally supports itself up the sides as you spread it, leaving a large central area for the compost.

    Next, shovel in the compost. I aim to put in my first layer of potatoes about 1 ft above the ground, allowing the bottom layer of potatoes plenty of room to form potatoes.

    Step 4: Lay-down potato layer and water in… thoroughly!

    Lay the potatoes about every 5-6″ along the very outside of the bin. They can be literally right next to the straw layer, with the eyes pointed out. (See picture to left for an idea.)
    ————————————————————————————-
    A note about potatoes:
    Use certified seed potatoes if possible… they are guaranteed disease free. Though, I have personally used potatoes from the previous year, and even from the store, and had great success. Though it’s a little like playing Russian (..er Irish) Roulette.
    Potatoes only need 1-2 eyes per piece to grow, so feel free to cut up the larger potatoes into 2 or more chunks, at least as big as a golf ball. The smaller potatoes can be simply planted whole. Ideally, cut the potatoes 24 hrs prior to planting, allowing time for a scab to grow over the cut, thereby reducing disease/rot issues. Though as a child, we would always cut and plant on the spot, and I always remember having to dig a lot of potatoes in the late summer…(where were those child labor laws when you really needed them??)

    If the potatoes are already sprouting, no worries. If the sprouts are less than 3-4″ long, go ahead and plant them. Or you can simply break off the sprouts, as they will regrow. You can actually do this up to 5 times before you start affecting the potatoes ability to grow. Resilient little suckers for sure!
    —————————————————————————————————-

    Next, it is important to absolutely soak the compost, as it often is on the drier side of things. Do this after every potato layer is planted.

    Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4, laying down a new layer of potatoes every foot or so until finished. The whole bin will use about 4 lbs. of potatoes.

    Step 6: Toppin’ er off…

    There are a couple options for finishing off the potato tower. You can finish it off with a top layer of potatoes (with about 5″ of compost laying over-top) along both the outside and also an inner circle (these will sprout out the top of the bin – see image below).

    Though I chose a different option at Growing Lots. I lay down 3 layers of potatoes along the outside (up to 3 ft), but then lay down a thick layer of straw and filled the top 1.5 ft with a soil/manure/compost blend for veggies. Then I planted a variety of plants into the top of each living fence post.

    Step 7: Keep it well-watered…
    It is important to keep the bin moist, from top to bottom. I have found the easy approach to watering is to create a moat along the top of the bin, and then put a hose in the moat at a flow-rate so that it is absorbed at about the same rate. Do this for about 20 minutes, once per week, and you should have sufficient moisture.
    Step 8: grow, Grow, GROW!

    In about 10-14 days you will see your first little potato shoots sprouting out the side of the potato tower.

    In about a month’s time, the Potato Medusa is born! This picture is one of the potato towers planted through Backyard Harvest. You can see in this potato tower, we did not use straw, and simply used a fence with smaller holes.

    Step 9: The Harvest
    Once the potatoes have all died back in the late summer/fall, it’s harvest time! No shovels, no digging.. simply tip over the potato bin and pick out the potatoes. Experience has shown that a bin that uses about 4 lbs of potatoes can produce upwards of 25 lbs of potatoes. Of course this will vary depending upon the potato variety chosen, and if any disease problems cut short the potato plants life.

    And if you’re really ambitious, here’s info on how to plant potato cuttings:

    Planting Potato Cuttings

    Complete Greenhouse Kits http://www.SBGreenhouse.com
    Quality Greenhouses. Easy Assembly. Aluminum or Wood. Factory Direct

    Ads by Google

    Step 1

    Purchase potatoes called “seed” potatoes from a nursery, seed catalog or Internet site for the best results in sprouting and growing potatoes to maturity. Any potato with robust eyes will grow into another potato plant if you treat it as you would a seed potato.
    Step 2

    Expose your seed potatoes to direct sunlight and temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees F for two weeks before you plant them in spring.
    Step 3

    Cut your seed potatoes into pieces about 2 inches square, making certain to include one or two eyes in each chunk. Allow the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for one or two days, which will cause a callous to form over the cut areas–the calloused skin will help to prevent the potato cutting from rotting after you plant it.
    Step 4

    Prepare your planting area by digging in at least a third the volume of soil with compost and other organic materials. Straw is a good addition to the soil in which you plan to grow potatoes.
    Step 5

    Dig a trench about 8 inches deep in the area you prepared for your potatoes. Then set each cut potato piece into the trench with the cut side facing downward and the eye facing upward. Leave about 1 foot of space between the potato cuttings. If you want to grow more than one row of potatoes, create multiple trenches 3 feet apart.
    Step 6

    Fill the trench half full with additional soil/compost/straw. Add more soil mixture as your potato plants start to grow—when the entire trench is full, you can mound more soil mixture around the base of each plant. This is called “hilling up” as the soil mixture forms a hill around the growing plant, allowing more room for tubers to form.

    Read more: How to Plant Cuttings of Potatoes | Garden Guides http://www.gardenguides.com/117543-p…#ixzz2L8saPbUp

    This information found online on site called pininterest

  • Donna says:

    Taters in a cage youtube video. Here are pictures that go with my previous answer. Yea!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO-EHfWgh4o#t=12

  • joyce says:

    Thanks Everybody & Majorie! It was really helpful for me to read everyone’s responses. I was enamoured with idea of the box/tire method of growing potatoes but from what everyone is saying it appears the ground works best.

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