How high do you build potato boxes

tomatonut(9a FL)November 7, 2008

Hi all

I am getting ready to start some potato boxes and was wondering how high I should expect to build them up as the plants grow. I was looking at sinfonian's website and somewhere I think he mentioned that he realized later that potatoes only grow at certain depths (or heights if growing up I guess) and that he could have stopped building the boxes up as tuber production does not continue to work its way to the top. So, how high should I plan on these boxes being built? Do I cover the plants with dirt until the box would reach a certain depth or do I just keep building up until...well, I'm not sure when I would stop building them up around the plant. Thanks for the help

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carolynp(z7)

I think that what Sinfonian said is that early variety potatoes will only set potatoes within a short distance of the first potato. There's a link within his step by step instructions that will tell you the exact dimensions you can use that was quite helpful: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/homegarden/2002347126_potatoes25.html?syndication=rss
Just make sure you get a late/middle variety and you should fill the whole thing with potatoes.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 11:54AM
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mike_in_paradise(6U 5A Cn Jun9Sep29)

About 3 feet.

The threads below on the Vegetable forum will give you a bunch of info.

Bin-again, shall we?
Bin-again, shall we? #2
Bin-again, shall we? #3

Link to Irish Eyes Step by step instructions

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 12:25PM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

GREAT info! Thank you SO much!

Blessings,
Angela

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 3:22PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

I think you'd have better luck digging a trench and slowly filling it.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 4:55PM
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anniesgranny(6b)

I'm with shebear...or shallow boxes, filled gradually (effectively hilling the plants as they grow, about 6" to 9" in depth). I already went into my anti-high rise tirade on one of those Bin-Again threads.

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 5:09PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Yeah you did granny....the only thing missing was a good limber switch for tearing hineys up with.

EG

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 5:17PM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

LOL! Okay, I'm lost, though... what's wrong with the high-rise approach? (Hmmmm... Maybe I shouldn't have asked this question, huh?)

Blessings,
Angela

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 4:42AM
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mike_in_paradise(6U 5A Cn Jun9Sep29)

I think that all the high rise approach does is to try and reduce space. It gives someone with a a small space an opportunity to try and grow potatoes.

If you read through the bin again threads there are lots of failures doing it this way and not a lot of resounding successes.

It seems like the primary cause of failure is the wrong species of potato.

I will probably do it both ways next year.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 7:37AM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

Ooooh, wrong species of potato! That's good info. I wasn't going to read all of the other threads until when I was about to get busy with my bin, but I might go ahead and read it sooner. ;-)

... I also am limited on space for the moment... I've seriously been considering a rooftop garden, but that won't fly... LOL

Blessings,
Angela

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 1:34AM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

I think they stay too wet in the boxes and they don't have the good bacteria that they get from just mounding up the soil around the trench. I believe in the general idea about SFG but it doesn't really embrace the soil-food web. You can grow veggies in a specialized "soil" with fertilizer and water but to really get the best veggies you need to promote soil health. Compost is great but there's so much more going on in healthy soil than just what happens in compost.

I have way more luck growing potatoes in loose soil that I mound up around the plants.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 6:03PM
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carolynp(z7)

I've been resisting having an opinion on this because I have no personal experience. I do feel the need to point out that my granddad grew potatoes on his farm in tires (lol, backwoods highrise) for all 57 years he was farming. When I told my dad I was thinking about building the highrise, he about split his gut laughing at me. He's like, "Cityfolk, you guys will do anything...what's wrong with tires?" To which I responded, "You know dad, my truck COULD use 4 new tires, you wanna spring for em? Or how about some old wood from your fence? Which do you want me to get?" lol

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 10:03PM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

Ha!!! Thanks for your 2-cents, Carolyn! Good story. :-)

Shebear, Thank you as well. I still need to read those other threads, but I was wondering about the "too wet" issue.

Blessings,
Angela

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 1:31AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Thanks all for posting on this. There are about as many ways to grow potatoes as there are varieties of potatoes. The way I did it works best for me as I have no space for the row method. If I had I wouldn't have created my website page on it. I take you step by step if you want to work through it. The link's below.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Build-As-You-Grow Potato Bins...

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 9:35PM
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tomatonut(9a FL)

Thanks for all of the input. Sinfonian...I really appreciate your blog. I am going to grow potatoes two different ways---early season varieties will be planted in trenches and a few late season varieties are being planted in boxes.

One more question though...when do you know when to stop topping the plants with soil? I mean, couldn't I keep this up for some time? How do I know when it is time to stop building up the boxes and covering the plants with soil? Thanks for the help

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 8:43PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Well, I built Greg L.'s bin to his specifications. So I used roughy 3 foot 2x2s. There's no reason you couldn't go higher. Although there are possible issues to consider. One is your season. You want to let the plants grow at will and get bushy well before frost kills them. Another point is that I didn't find nearly as many potatoes in the upper 1/3 of the bin. Now part of that was probably my laziness at covering, but I do believe at some point you get diminishing returns. Possibly also the added weight of the soil would inhibit tater growth down below.

All that leads me to continue to recommend the potato bin as designed. However, tires solve some of those problems. Of course tires are only so wide so you give up lots in the number of seeds you can start.

Hehe I could talk all day on the various methods and materials used to grow potatoes vertically. I did a ton of research before I found those bins. Good luck and enjoy!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's garden adventure

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 5:47PM
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catholichome

I have a very small space for gardening and the traditional rows took up too much room. I thought of using tires, but they were too ugly. I saw the instructions for a potato box that required screwing and unscrewing wood. Too complicated! I made a side by side compost / potato box from pallets with the addition of an overhead frame to hang homemade topsy turvys. It's going great. Take a look.

Here is a link that might be useful: Potato Box

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 8:32AM
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rachel597(5A ME)

Very interesting potato box, catholichome.

I am thinking about growing potatoes next year based on Sinfonian's Build-As-You-Grow Potato Bins.

I was trying to figure out how I could use pallets to build it since I can acquire these free from work. Your bins are quite interesting too. I like how they slide up so you can harvest potatoes for the bottom layer.

Here is a link that might be useful: GrafixMuse's Garden Spot

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 7:50PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Hehe, I wondered what would come from a Church site linking my bins. Gotta love the intenet.

And yes, boards that slide are useful. Good luck and enjoy!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 3:04PM
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amtnfritz_gmail_com

I know this thread is old, but I was hoping that some of you would still be around in this forum. I am thinking about trying a potato box but I also like the idea of companion planting. I don't have a lot of space, so I would like to get as much out of my garden as possible.

Has anyone tried planting other crops in with the potatoes? Say after you stop raising the box and let the potatoes bush out? I have also thought about using the sides of the box; has anyone tried this?

Specifically I am thinking about the following:
I have read that potatoes and lentils are good companion crops. Does anyone know if it would be possible to plant lentils on the sides of a potato box (through holes or between slats) and attach a lattice or support for the beans? I realize that I may have to make the box a little bigger and keep the potatoes toward the middle to have enough room for all of the roots, but I just wasn't sure if this was even possible.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 4:23PM
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et14(7a-VA)

hey sinfonian

your link is down at powweb

Do you have your info somewhere else now?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 7:19PM
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bsntech(5b)

I noticed that as well. Was going to look at his site today but it seems the ft2garden.com domain didn't pay their hosting bill possibly.

Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Gardening Blog

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 10:23PM
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et14(7a-VA)

I have got three potato boxes planned this year. Mine are 2x2 square and the sides will go up 30 inches. I have the bottom sides cut form 2x6 and the stringers (vertical pieces) cur from 2x2.After the first row of 2x2, I am using fence pickets that are 5.5 inches wide.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 9:46AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

I've been trying to contact the site owner for my blog. In the meantime I've set up an alternate site at the link below. I am not sure at this point which blog will be continued as both have their upsides. Everything's over at the new site EXCEPT the comments for my pages (including the potato page). That's not that big of deal since the theme I am using doesn't show the comments either. Working on both issues.

Thanks for the continued interest.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's New Blog Site

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 2:07AM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

Last season I just used plastic tubs and had a nice yield. I just started a few in 5 gallon buckets.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 4:26PM
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