little woods homestead

Potato Tower Lacked it’s Power

I’ve been joking around all year with friends about my potato tower of power. Using minimal space, you get a huge harvest of potatoes, and they are relatively easy to retrieve. I finally got to harvest the fruits of my labor!

And it was really underwhelming. This year we had a drought and that changed everything. Usually the tower is perfect for potatoes because you need good drainage. Potatoes are really susceptible to rotting if they get too wet.

But this year, that great drainage has worked against me. It’s been impossible to keep those potatoes hydrated.

Honestly I’m surprised they held on at all.

But that still didn’t change my feelings of disappointment when I harvested what must have been less than the seed potatoes I planted.

I suppose if everyone of the potatoes I dug were the size of my fist it would have been considered a good harvest, but they were smaller than walnuts (walnuts minus their hulls!). So I got about 2lbs of potatoes from my 10lbs of seed potatoes. Herumph.

Normally I would have left them in longer, until the tops died off completely and then waited another week, but Jason and I are headed out on vacation on Thursday — it’s our one year anniversary — and we won’t be back until later this month. We’ve already had 1 frost, so I don’t think I could let them sit. I’m also harvesting all my tomatoes and peppers before we head out too. And fixing a window. And mowing the yard one last time. And doing about one million other things that people do before leaving their house for 3 weeks.

Anyway, it’s been a good experiment, but I think next year I’ll try mounds for my potatoes. I love them so much, they are worth the room they will take up.

Gardening is often thought of being resourceful, and in a lot of ways it is — once you know what you are doing. And if the weather is your companion instead of your adversary. I love it, and most of the time it does save us money AND is really rewarding.

Because, resourceful or not, gardening on a small or large scale connects you to the earth and the food chain and history in an undeniable way.

Sure I feel disappointed about my potatoes. But could you imagine that my failure to have a good potato crop meant we had no potatoes all winter? OR that my crop failure meant my family was facing the serious problem of how to survive the winter?

Scary.


How’d your garden fair this summer? Have you been able to pull anything delightful from the ground?



Happy Homesteading!
Kristin M Roach

6 thoughts on “Potato Tower Lacked it’s Power

  1. My potatoes have been rubbish as well, in fact all my veg havent done well at all. It is dissapointing, I agree, but we are very lucky we arent relying on these drops to keep us going. The small crops I have had , have tasted wonderful! Hopefully nest year will be a more fruitful one for us both. :o)

  2. I tried a potato tower this year for the first time, too. We ran a drip irrigation line to it so lack of water was not the issue. But we harvested about 10 pounds of potatoes, which I thought quite disappointing. The ones on top were small, the ones below, larger. We have also decided to just plant a few mounds somewhere next year.

    We are so blessed that we don’t have to rely on our gardens to feed us through the winter! Other things did much better, but still … it makes me appreciate how difficult it was for people in days gone by. The crop failed and people went hungry.

  3. Big ol’ mildew problem in my garden this year, unfortunately. Only bumper crop was my green beans. I put some up as dilly beans and ate a LOT of ratatouille.

  4. I would recommend to put fewer plants in there. Especially modern bread Hybrids have very special requirements including not only enough water (350litre per 1kg dry matter, you could put some old plastic bags or sth around next time?) but also the root zone has to be large enough. Root zone and soil are limiting factors and plants compete about them. Also, the more plants you put in there the smaller your potatoes will be, independet from the chosen breed.
    More potato towers, bigger with morge soil and less plants per tower shuold really improve your harvest next year.
    (I hope it wasn’t to smart-ass-y, your tower just looks so small and a bit overpopulated)

    Best wishes from Germany

  5. After seeing your post, I finally got to pulling up my potatoes. Two of the three plants died early in the summer. The third gave me TWO tiny potatoes, smaller than the starters I’d planted. So disappointeddddd

  6. Not smart-ass-y at all, just smart :) The tower is actually about 2+ feet wide and 3 feet tall. I was wondering about potatoes vs soil and how that would weigh into it. Maybe I’ll do another tower + in the ground potatoes, but plant a lot less and see what happens.

    I love gardening a TON, but wow, not my forté… yet! I take a lot of notes each year and each year I get a little better at it. I figure once I’m 70, like my neighbor Bill, I’ll have a garden as awesome as his :)

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