My failed attempts to grow potatoes in potato towers and grow bags

A year or two back I built a couple of potato towers. Various magazines recommended this approach for growing red potatoes so i decided to go all in. My two attempts to grow potatoes this way failed miserably and resulted in a handful of potatoes during each growing season. Not being one to accept failure I decided to try once more this spring. This time I went with a smart pot and used their suggested growing method.

At first I thought I hit gold. My seed potatoes put on massive growth and I was quick to back fill over the potatoes to allow more tubers to form. Then it got hot and my red potatoes succumbed to heat and disease. I ended up harvesting about 10 potatoes at the end of the season and this is definitely the last time I try to grow them in towers and smart pots.

My sweet potatoes on the other hand did fantastic and they appear to handle heat and pests much better then red potatoes. I pulled up roughly 40lbs of potatoes this fall and these will definitely be a yearly addition to the garden. If you’ve had success growing potatoes in towers / smart pots please let me know what you did to succeed. After three attempts I’m throwing in the towel.

Growing cranberry red seed potatoes in a potato tower

We have limited space in our garden, so I try to grow things vertically whenever possible. So when I read about growing potatoes in stackable potato towers I knew I had to try this out. I used the diagram on that site as a reference, though I deviated quite a bit. My tower was built out of 24″ cedar 2×6 sections, and each section stacks on top of the others. Each tower is stacked five high, giving me 30″ of vertically growing space. Here is a picture of a tower:

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Since space was at a premium I wanted to plant a high yielding red potato that isn’t available at the grocery store. I settled on cranberry red, and ordered my seed potatoes from Southern Exposure. When my order arrived I chopped each seed potato into two to three sections:

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Each section has two to three eyes which will branch out once the potato starts growing. I also read that you will get better results if you cut your seed potatoes up and let them cure for a couple of days before planting. This supposedly allows the edges to dry up and will help prevent disease and fungus from entering the freshly sliced potato. I have no idea if this works, but it made sense so I did it.

After a day or two of curing I took my seed potatoes out to their new home. In the very bottom potato tower section I put a mixture of loose soil, compost, azomite and a small amount of organic fertilizer. From what I’ve gathered by reading, potatoes like fertile and nutrient rich soil so I made sure to give them a good mixture of compost, fertilizer and nutrients to get them off to a good start. I have no idea if my potato towers will work, but it seemed like a fun (and delicious) experiment! I’ll keep the blog updated with my potato progress.