1st go at potatoes

Carmen PetersonJanuary 30, 2013

I am going to be trying to grow potatoes for the first time this year. Since my space is limited I am going to be making potato towers ( http://growinglots.blogspot.com/2010/06/potato-towers-living-fence-posts.html) to maximize the space I can use. There are six of us in the family and we eat tons of potatoes. I am thinking of planting 4-5 cages spaced out at two week intervals. I know I can blanch and freeze for long term storage. Any advice?

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I love the theory, but I am afraid I would not be able to make it work because of my unstable weather. Let us know how it works.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 6:34PM
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Depends on the type of potatoes you're planting. What are your options and choices? Potatoes, like onions, come in different varieties that have different "shelf lives". Some (well ALL) are great for fresh eating, others do well saved for a period of time. Remember that potatoes are a very starchy produce and that will convert to sugar and break-down. Keep in mind how long you want to store them.

Yukon Gold are yummy and great for almost 2 or 3 months. There are others that are bred for long-term storage like Kennebec. I've grown both. Also, I've only grown the short-term red potatoes, but I think there's a type (Great Nothern Red???) that last longer.

Hope this helps. I'm sure there are others on here that have knowledge and experience more than mine that will chime in.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 8:41PM
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We plant potatoes in March, dig them in July and store them in boxes under a bed all summer and part of the fall. They will start to sprout along about Oct and I will pull them out a couple times to pull off sprouts at the end of their life. We ate the last of last summer's in Dec this year. In years past I have had them til February, but the quality suffered. I raise Kennebes, Yukon Gold and whatever Red is available, usually Pontiac. Have plenty of room so have never planted in towers, but daughter did in Tulsa this past summer and was happy with the harvest.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 9:11PM
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These towers are all over the internet every year and they always show the beginning of the process, and never the end result. Some of them say it requires a special kind of potato, but they rarely say what they planted. Most say to start with a little soil and keep adding as the potatoes grow. This approach that you are showing is a little different than most since it shows the plants coming out the sides. I have never grown a potato plant that didn't grow straight up from the seed potato, and I have never grown one that sets potatoes all the way up the stem. Mostly they grow on only a few inches of the stem. I hope you will come back and report the results.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 1:00AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I agree with Carol that these potato towers sound so promising in spring, but the people who use them rarely come back and report their results, and I suspect the reason why is that they don't produce as well as potatoes in the ground. Several folks on the vegetable forum have tried them over the years, and in every case that I can remember, they were disappointed with the results and stopped trying to grow them that way. Often, people who are simply delighted with the potato production in towers, boxes, bins, etc. are not getting any more potatoes than people like us get when growing them in the ground. I can see where folks with horrid clay or very rocky soil would prefer to use methods that don't involve digging deeply in the ground though.

If you want to do it, choose late-season varieties because they will give you a heavier harvest in the potato towers than early or mid-season types will.

All the potato varieties I've grown tend to set all their tubers along about 8" or so of underground stolon and that's it. They do not keep setting tubers higher and higher, for example, if I keep mulching and mulching.

Sometimes you can find people on the internet doing things in their climate that we cannot successfully do in our climate. Potato production is impeded by heat, and we have plenty of heat here. Potato plants grow best when nighttime temperatures are between 45-55 and daytime temperatures are between 60-75. In addition to that, they need to set and size their tubers before soil temperatures reach 85 degrees. That is the temperature at which the initiation of potatoes ceases. Your results, therefore, will depend a great deal on how quickly it gets hot.

I just store my potatoes either in the back and darkest corner of the walk-in pantry or in the tornado shelter and we enjoy them for as long as they last, which usually is well into autumn as Dorothy noted.

You have nothing to lose by trying this method because you'll surely get some potatoes, but in order to know if it is the best method for you, you might want to try growing some of the same variety in the ground at the same time so you can compare the performance of the two planting methods to see what works best for you.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:18AM
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