The Sweet Potato of Infinity

This is by no means new information but I’ve recently propagated a bazillion sweet potatoes and was blown away by how quickly and easily I was able to get a ton of slips ready for the garden.

I’ve been giving my dog, Sasha, rather elaborate homemade meals for her hip dysplasia. Anything that’s healthy and a natural anti-inflammatory goes into this powerful meal. Fresh catfish nuggets oozing with Omega-3 fish oils, sweet potatoes, phytoplankton (puts the Omega-3s into those fatty fish), glucosamine , and CBD oil to name a few.

As you can imagine, this can all be a bit on the pricey side so I was looking for any way to ease up the pocket book pains a bit. That meant finding a way to get good organic sweet potatoes by growing them at home. So I started with one solitary store-bought organic sweet potato.

Sweet potato with support toothpicks
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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.

Whoops!

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.

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Branching Out: A Humble Attempt at Growing an Espaliered Grapefruit Tree


What would mankind be without rudely trying to bend nature to their evil wills? Imagine a world where man realizes that any attempts at control are merely an illusion and every creature danced naked in the woods in joyous celebration of total peace and harmony. Ahh, soothing. And the exact opposite of the grotesque horrors in the form of massive and aggressive amputations gifted to my new grapefruit tree. Poor oroblanco, you came here to suffer for my aesthetic whims. Rest easy though, your suffering will be remembered in song and lore.

All of this would probably be more warmly received if I didn’t twirl my mustache and cackle maniacally during the process. But I have my methods and plant sensibilities be damned. But I’m not doing this just to pander to my false sense of control and dominance. There are very practical reasons to espalier a fruit tree. The rather obvious one is that it looks insanely cool as a landscape design feature. Like a white-gloves touch to the garden. Classy as a MF’er. It also makes for a perfect space-saving solution to those with limited garden space.

There’s an even more impressive scientific reason for this ancient methodology of fruit production.  When trained against a wall, the light is reflected back onto the tree and the heat is stored during the day to keep the area warmer during the cooler nights.  When trained in an open space, you can line it up to be parallel to the equator to totally maximize its fruit maturing potential.  Both strategies serve to lengthen the fruit maturing season.  Science is amazing. Be sure to science more than you do now.


“The word espalier is French, and it comes from the Italian spalliera, meaning “something to rest the shoulder (spalla) against.  During the 17th Century, the word initially referred only to the actual trellis or frame on which such a plant was trained to grow, but over time it has come to be used to describe both the practice and the plants themselves.

Espalier as a technique seems to have started with the ancient Romans. In the Middle Ages the Europeans refined it into an art. The practice was popularly used in Europe to produce fruit inside the walls of a typical castle courtyard without interfering with the open space and to decorate solid walls by planting flattened trees near them. Vineyards have used the technique in the training of grapes for hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years”

-Brown, Sydney Park; Yeager, Thomas H.; Black, Robert J. (September 2007) [May 1985]


For my specific reasons, I had a very unruly back planting strip behind my house. I let it get out of control and many of the plants there were leftovers from the previous owners. Just look at this hot mess… Continue reading “Branching Out: A Humble Attempt at Growing an Espaliered Grapefruit Tree”