Towering potatoes

Photo credit: Urban Farmer Seward –

* Potato tower – 100_0622+(Mobile).JPG100_0622+(Mobile).JPG

In the garden: Grow a tower of potatoes in little space

by Carol Barany

Americans have rediscovered fresh, locally grown food, they love it, and, increasingly, they want to grow it themselves.

Last year, 35 percent of all American households, 42 million of them, grew food at home or in a community garden. That’s more vegetable gardens than we’ve seen in a decade, according to “Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Food Gardening in America,” a special report of the National Gardening Association.

* Bag - potatoes - Photo Tio Miguelito's Garden - product_3161_large copy.jpg
* Bag – potatoes – Photo Tio Miguelito’s Garden – product_3161_large copy.jpg

This trend was certainly reflected in the slate of seminars presented at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle on Feb. 11-15, where a main focus was on growing edibles. A host of speakers assured their audiences that all it takes is creativity and commitment to produce amazing food in even the tiniest urban space. That’s certainly true in Yakima, where I’ve seen vegetables growing on apartment balconies, in black plastic garbage bags, in planters hung from a fence, in burlap sacks and plastic laundry bins.

* Vertical potato tower - Photo Filip Ring Thenderup - 524197_155330084604427_1429767967_n copy.jpg
* Vertical potato tower – Photo Filip Ring Thenderup – 524197_155330084604427_1429767967_n copy.jpg

At “Towering Tubers: Grow 20 lbs. of Spuds in Less Than 4 Square Feet,” a seminar hosted by Fine Gardening magazine’s Danielle Sherry, I learned how even a sprawling crop like potatoes could be cultivated in a much smaller space. In this case, a simple vertical tower of wire fencing from 2 to 4 feet tall (a use for my ill-conceived tomato cages!) is lined with straw (my de-seeded and chopped ornamental grasses) and filled with compost.

Grown this way, there’s no need to deeply till or amend garden soil (a must for potatoes), there’s no weeding and crop rotation is not a concern.

Read the full article: Yakima Herald

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.