A few years back, I grew potatoes in stacks of tires. It worked out all right for a first attempt, and come fall I had a modest harvest of magnificent taters.
This project appealed to me on many levels. Of course, I just love to garden, period. But I also work with a pretty small space, so I get excited by new ways of maximizing surface area. Up not out! Most of all, I really appreciated being able to up-cycle old “trash” into a new, useful purpose.
But there was just this one thing. See, tires are made with funky metals. And creepy chemicals. And even though I scoured the internet and couldn’t find anything that would definitively deem this idea as unsafe, well . . . I couldn’t help but be at least a bit concerned.
Still, I went for it. And those were seriously, SERIOUSLY, the most delicious potatoes I ever ate. And I was pregnant, and Waits is perfect, so, you know, tires are probably fine.
This year I was ready to get my tater on once again. And I wanted to try something different this time. So . . .
We used old some scrap wood instead. Damian built all of the necessary frames in under an hour. Really, it was that easy. He had this plan involving drill holes and dowels and interlocking boxes, but see, we have this toddler. And so we went with expediency. Expediency works good, apparently.
Back in early spring we found these taters at the FarMar that Damian was really lovin’ on – some sort of heirloom German variety. So I cut them in half and planted them. Again, so easy! I started with two frames (pictured above) and this time, I was careful to add the dirt very gently, not packing it down at all. I wanted a lot of air in there (you can read the “what worked and what didn’t” from the first potato tire project in this recap). I interspersed layers of compost for maximum plant (and people!) health.
As a control, I also planted a bunch of taters in another raised bed, one that wouldn’t have stacks added to it. This is the bed I asked Damian to build me when I got obsessed with azaleas back around May. It was supposed to feature artichokes and azaleas, but it’s been completely overrun by potatoes!
It will be interesting to see how the yields differ, come harvest. I’ve continued to add frames onto the tower, and now I’m at four which is where I’ll stop.
Theoretically, there should be taters developing all the way up the tower, and the tower plants should produce three times as many taters as the single-level plants. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
Anyone want to make any bets? Do you think the tower taters will make more, or do you think they’ll be about the same?