The Poor Man’s Potato Tower

File this under: What Not To Do. A rather fat file in the Mind Your Dirt Corporate Offices of Information and Enlightenment File Management Room…

Where all the MYD mistakes are stored.

I’ve gone ahead and accidentally and massively over-planted the tiniest of my tiny garden plots.

I did it with a sense of deliberate defiance too. Reaping what I’ve sown has quite literally left me bush-whacked and frantic the moment once forgotten seeds began pushing sprout.

I basically planted some old ass potato spuds that I found in a box whilst cleaning out my garage. For nearly a year they withered away their prime months in the hot and dry SoCal un-ventilated garage. Amazed by their tenacity, I just slapped them into the ground in jubilant and ceremonial awe and fervor.

The only problem is I had also planted several heirloom pumpkin seeds the month before in the same bed. Oops. When the long atrophied synapses in my brain began firing again, I realized that this situation was only going to get worse. Steps Jerry! Steps will need to be taken.


So here’s what my caveman brain came up with as a solution. If growing outward isn’t a viable option, then perhaps upward is the only way to grow. I’ve seen potato towers in action before, but have never tried one. I also didn’t want to spend any paper money for lumber or fabric bag towers so I noodle scratched for a spell. Then it hit me, What about that collection of cheap 5 gallon pots I have stashed in the backyard?! A bit smaller than a standard tower, but the total cost is zero of dollars so, what’s to lose?

The potato tower is claimed by many to be able to increase yield while decreasing square footage in your garden plot. I don’t believe that the former is true at all and there’s no real evidence that yield is increased at all. As this is my first experiment, I’ll gladly share my findings, but I don’t have a control so it’s not a true experiment. I just had a sudden risk of crowding and thought this was my best shot without pulling plants out. Having said that, Mind Your Dirt is NOT claiming any additional benefits from using potato towers apart from space saving. I’m just testing the waters and turning a potentially bad situation into an interesting one. Maybe. Read this for further info.

-Mind Your Dirt Corporate Law team (aka me).

Apart from the above video, here’s some more detail shots of the steps. I’m really not sure if this is a good idea or not but so far the plant is growing like gangbusters so I’m sharing it anyhoo.

I started off with two large 5 gallon pots. The plastic is thinner than most so it was easy to cut into. I used scissors but a utility knife can work for thicker pots.

“Be careful when using a utility knife because cutting into plastic can get hairy! One slip and POW!! Shopping for new fingers. Or worse!”

-Four Finger Joe

I also grabbed a slightly smaller plastic pot to make two rings with. These are for securing the trap doors I cut to both fill the tower with dirt from the bottom up as well as provide harvesting sections so I won’t have to dig up the entire plant and harvest all at once.

Once this simple cut job was finished I carefully slipped the pot over my selected potato plant.

Being extra careful not to break any of the stems or branches I worked the inverted pot down until the top rim of the pot was resting on the ground. Then it was time so slowly add the compost starting at the bottom and working my way up.

In case you wanna learn how to make great nutrient-rich compost

When it got full enough I closed my flaps and placed the ring around the pot to help keep the sides closed. Then I began adding soil to the top of the tower and carefully worked it in between the stems.

I tried arranging the stems and leaves so they’d have equal spacing as they continue to grow.

Below is what I’m hoping to see in ten weeks. But if a potato plant puts out more than one row of tubers I will admittedly be surprised. I’ve no idea what to expect for results, but what I do know is the pumpkins are getting a lot more light at the moment at least. Again, I often am here to show you precisely what not to do. Let this fool make the mistakes and save you some time.

Dramatization of my potential potato futures.

7 Replies to “The Poor Man’s Potato Tower”

  1. Hi James! this was pretty epic ingenuity, I can’t wait to see how they work for you. Will you be saving some of these potatoes to grow again since they held up after being forgotten in the hot garage?

    1. Thanks Emma! We’ll see if it works. As far as saving, I’ll have to see what kind of yield I get from that small plot first. But most likely I’ll save some seed taters.

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