Sunday, November 2, 2008

Potato Tower Yield LOW!

How many potatoes do you count in this photo? If you counted 12, you are correct.

12 potatoes is the yield I got from my potato tower!!!!

Sadly, this is not a joke, nor a humble underestimate of my success. I pulled up my tower today giddy with anticipation. As the dirt escaped from the bottom, I envisioned pounds and pounds of potatoes covering my feet. I kept thinking, any moment now...any moment now..

...but that moment never came! IT NEVER CAME!

I was actually so sure of my future success that over the past few weeks I have been researching potato storage methods, new recipes, etc. Why did I do this? Because I knew that no ordinary human could actually consume the number of potatoes I created.

All of this mental anguish...not necessary. The potato tower gave me 12 potatoes. SO why did the tower not live up to its promise? 100 pounds of potatoes in 4 square feet? Ha! My plants were vigorous all summer. I didn't water then very often because it didn't need it. The soil I added was compost, peat moss, and potting mix. I had to constantly keep adding more dirt and boards to the potato tower. The plants died at the end of the season as normal. I did wait a while to harvest, but I don't think that caused any problems. So I have no solutions. I don't know what went wrong. The only thing I can think of is that there were not enough flowers or flowering action going on.

I just don't know!


Jessica said...

We've planted potatoes twice now, using two different methods and had limited success, like you. We gave it a pass this year, but next year we're going to try one more time. Hopefully you'll have better luck next time, too!

Penny said...

Hi, Jessica! Last year, I tried planting potatoes just in an extra bed I had, and I had way more potatoes that way. I found that the dirt wasn't fine enough, so they grew too knotty to be worth much, and when I used a shovel to remove them, I usually ended up cutting them. Maybe the third time will be the charm for both of us next year. Good luck!

Local Matters said...

Penny--my grandmother grew them and she always grew smaller varieties and had a large amount--maybe she was on to something?

Dove Soup said...

We had limited success with our potato tower also. The potatoes grew at the depth we planted them - the soil beneath was disappointingly free of potatoes.
We then tried a mounding method on the ground.
It seems that potatoes don't grow deep into the soil to produce their tubers, so as you see the the green leafy stuff emerge, mound more soil. Keep mounding the soil as they grow.

I laid the seed potato on top of a well worked bed, covered it with a a healthy soil mix that contained organic matter and sand to aid drainage.
Next we covered the mound with loose straw and covered that with more soil.
As they grew we continued to add more layers of soil and straw.

I think the same method could be used in your tower, starting at the bottom and working your way up rather than filling it all at the time of planting.

Penny said...

that is an interesting idea. I just buy the seed potatoes at Oakland Nursery according to what they have.

Thanks for the mounding idea. That is such an important thing to know about the way potatoes grow. I actually did continue to add soil (mound) as the plants grew, so the mystery continues!