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Although potatoes can be grown in beds, they usually require a lot of space. However, if you only have a small amount of space or no garden, you don't have to do without potatoes from your own cultivation! Because with a potato tower, the popular tubers can be grown not only to save space in the garden, but even on the terrace or even the balcony! We have created a simple guide for you, with which you can build a potato tower in just a few steps.
A potato tower is a construction similar to a raised bed, but specifically designed for growing potatoes. These are available in different versions in the trade, but they can also be built inexpensively and easily yourself. The yield is also impressive, because up to 20 fresh potatoes can be grown from an ordinary potato. All in all, the numerous advantages speak for themselves:
- very space-saving
- simple structure
- very easy to care for
Which potato is suitable?
Unlike tomatoes and the like, potatoes are not sown, but planted as seed potatoes. This means that the whole potato is used instead of the seeds. No specific specimens are required for cultivation, as both seed potatoes and ordinary organic ware potatoes are suitable. However, cultivation works best with pre-germinated potatoes:
- from mid-April
- Put potatoes in soil
- about 8-10 cm deep
- sufficient distance from each other
tip: If the potato is placed in the garden for pre-germination, it should also be covered with foil. Because this protects the shoots from possible frost.
The potato tower can be set up on the balcony or in the garden. If the tower is to be placed in the bed, it does not have to be dug up beforehand. As a rule, it is sufficient to shorten the plants a little. Although the location of the potato tower can be chosen freely, the following points should be considered:
- as sunny a place as possible
- Subsoil earth or lawn
- Gravel is also possible
- it is important that the water can drain away
A homemade potato tower not only has the advantage that the dimensions can be perfectly matched to the available space. Because the choice of materials and thus the appearance of the turret can also be chosen according to your own preferences. From simple potato towers to stone constructions, everything is possible. However, the following material is required to build a simple potato tower:
- Mats made of reed, bamboo, plastic or screed
- rabbit wire or chicken wire
- garden soil
- Straw, old newspapers or dried grass clippings
- cable ties
- bamboo sticks
notice: If you want to build a potato tower with a diameter of around 60 centimeters, you need mats that are around one meter high and almost two meters long.
Build a potato tower: instructions
The first step in the blueprint is to make the shell. For this purpose, the mat or the wire is first formed into a cylinder. Then the edges of the respective material are joined and fastened with cable ties. Alternatively, you can of course attach them with a conventional wire. Once the shell is finished, it can be brought to the future location:
- Line the floor with wire
- alternatively spread with a film with small holes
- this allows the water to drain away
- Set up and fix the shell
- Set up 3-4 bamboo sticks along the inner edge
- or anchor the grid to the ground with small hooks
When the potato tower has been set up and fixed, it is time to fill it. With this you should, however, until after the ice saints wait, because potatoes don't like frost. The timing of planting also depends on the respective potato variety: early potatoes are generally planted earlier than late varieties. In order to achieve the highest possible yield from the tower, a layered assembly has proven itself:
1. Lay out the subsurface
The first layer of the potato tower has a protective function. Because on the one hand it should keep the heat in the tower and on the other hand it prevents the muddy earth from reaching the bottom. To do this, lay out a layer of around 30 centimeters made of one of the following materials:
- dried grass clippings
- sheep wool
- old newspapers
tip: To provide additional stability, you can place large stones on the first layer.
2. Lay out walls
It is advisable to also line the walls of the tower. This ensures that the soil is not washed out. However, you should make sure to keep the layer as thin as possible. This makes it possible for the growing potato plants to find loopholes and drive them out nicely.
- line the entire inner edge with hay
- alternatively, rhubarb leaves are suitable
- as thin a layer as possible
3. Fill in soil
Now it is time to fill the tower with substrate. Ideally, a mixture of soil and mature compost is used at this point. Because this gives the potatoes valuable nutrients, which in turn promote growth and thus the yield. If you want to use ordinary garden soil, you can also upgrade it as follows:
- first lay out a thin layer of horn shavings
- then placed garden soil
- sprinkle lightly with water
- as a result, the soil gains moisture
4. Fill the turret
In this step, the individual potatoes are used. However, you should never just put them in the ground randomly! It is better to use the tubers according to a system so that they have enough space to thrive:
- about 4-8 potatoes per layer
- use in a circle
- Distance to the edge about 4 cm
- enough distance from each other!
- Cover the potatoes with a thin layer of soil
tip: It is advisable to mark this layer with a stick or clamp. As a result, the hobby gardener knows where the respective layer is and can harvest it later more easily.
5. filling in layers
After the first potato layer, the individual layers are now repeated. You lay out a layer of hay about five centimeters high and a layer of soil about 10 centimeters high, in which you in turn insert the potatoes. This is repeated until the last layer is about 25 to 30 centimeters below the edge. The following should also be observed for the last two layers:
- Don't use potatoes just in circles anymore
- but also about 3-4 potatoes in the middle
- Finally, wrap the tower with bamboo mats
- Seal ends with cable ties
- Cut off excess mat
- pour well, about 30-40 liters
One of the many advantages of potato towers is that they are extremely easy to care for. Because basically all you have to do is pour the tower. From time to time it can happen that the potato plants need a little more space. It is then necessary to break out individual bars from the mats or to cut slots in the mats. In general, however, it can be said that maintenance is structured as follows:
- water regularly but not too often
- Once a week is sufficient
- Avoid waterlogging
tip: Snails are extremely fond of the potato plants, which is why they keep finding their way to the tubers. It is therefore advisable to regularly check the construction for snails and to remove them.
You can harvest the first potatoes from late summer until autumn. To do this, you can simply open the potato tower so that the potatoes literally roll out. However, this method also has the disadvantage that the earth and straw also roll out. If you want to make the harvest more controllable, you can use the following method:
- Remove layer by layer
- with hands or shovel
- remove ripe potatoes
- soil and straw on compost
- dismantle tower
notice: In the following year it is not necessary to build a new potato tower. Because the old tower is reusable and can therefore be set up again next spring.