Inspired by Langenator's experiments with buckets o' spuds, I hit the green side of the web and found this technique that I plan to try this year. Full details can be found at the excellent Resilient Communities
site, and the simplicity of the process is compelling. Instead of the traditional 'hilling' of soil on the potato shoots as they emerge, the seed potatoes are surrounded by a wire cage and the shoots are covered. Straw is used to hold the soil in the cage. The key to towering potatoes is a combination of the following:
- High quality seed potatoes and good soil (don’t scrimp).
- Very rapid covering. Cover the shoot before it leafs out and becomes a shaw (the tower should make this easier to do). I suspect that all you will need is two feet of covering soil at most. The idea is that once it coverts to leaf, it doesn’t fully convert back, sapping the plant of energy.
- Turn a root from each seed potato into a “shaw” (leafy shoot) as soon as possible. Essentially, guide the root to an opening on the side of the container and let it grow outwards. If you don’t do this, the plant will not get enough energy to yield.
Without getting too technical, a potato tower that is working correctly will be covered in green, from base to top. If you only see green at the top, you’re going to get a poor harvest.
I see no reason that this cannot be adapted to using buckets topped with the cages; and further adapted by the automatic watering technique
I posted earlier.