After a few days of settling, the towers are ready to plant. The decision was to plant six spots in each tower. If the seed potatoes were small, two were planted together – otherwise just one.
The potatoes were covered with a compost, peat soil mixture about 4” deep.
Lastly, each was topped with a layer of straw to prevent the light soil mix from blowing out and to retain moisture while the potatoes sprouted.
As the potatoes grow through the early half of the season, additional sideboards will be added along with more soil mix to hopefully increase production in the towers.
The varieties planted were Adirondack Blue, Mountain Rose, Harvest Moon, Adirondack Red, Pinto Gold, Purple Sun, Red Norland, and Yukon Gold. Once a field site is prepared, field rows will also be planted for comparison.
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After the various pieces were cut, the final assembly took place in the garden. In order to plant the potatoes, each tower base needed to get filled. The bottom layer will be 3 to 4” of loose straw. Some folks have planted directly on the straw but in this case the straw will hopefully trap a bit of moisture for the growing tubers.
Next up was a 1 to 2” layer of composed chicken manure and bedding to provide nutrients for the potatoes.
The last layer before planting was about 4 to 5” of finer, rock free top soil. Once the top soil was added, it was time to add the first new row of sideboards all the around each tower. After a couple of days of settling, the seed Potatoes will be placed on the topsoil and then covered with a mixture of peat, compost, and topsoil with a layer of straw mulch on top.
As the potatoes grow taller additional sideboards and more soil mix can be added.
To begin, obtain the following lumber: 2 – 2x3x8’, 2 – 2x6x8’ planks, 1 – 1x4x8’ board.
Cut as follows: cut 2×3 into 4’ lengths for vertical corners. Cut 2×6 into 24” lengths for bottom two rows of side boards. Cut 1×4 into 2 – 24” lengths plus 2 – 22.5 lengths for top side boards.
Assemble two sides as follows: Place two 2x6x24” side boards at bottom of vertical corners and one 1x4x24” top side boards at opposite end of verticals. Be sure that all side boards are squarely placed on verticals and that the entire side is square. Pre drill holes and attach the bottom 2×6 side boards with 3.5” construction screws on both verticals. Pre drill the 1×4 top boards and attach with 2” construction screws.
Repeat this construction to build an identical opposite side.
Set the two constructed sides opposite each other and fit a 2×6 side board flush with the ends of the 2x6s attached to the verticals. Again check for square before attaching. Attach one of the 1x4x22.5” top side boards making sure that everything remains square. Attach the second 2×6 side board, flush with the second 2×6 on the frame. Pre drill all screw holes to avoid splitting the wood.
Flip the frame over and repeats for the remaining side being sure to maintain everything square.
The next post details the growing season maintenance of the Potato Tower.
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Having grown various Potato varieties for several years, it seemed like time to try out growing them in a Potato Tower. The idea is to grow small crop of each variety in its own isolated raised bed. Growing Potatoes in field beds is space intensive and time consuming interns of management. The strategy for the tower is to add soil and straw to the growing Potato plants rather than hilling the field beds. By adding additional side boards, the depth can be continued with minimal materials. New Potatoes can be harvested by removing a board and hand probing into the bed. When time for the main harvest, more of the boards can be removed to reveal the Potato crop.
The following post details the construction and preplanting phase.
The early brassica crop of cabbage, broccoli, pak Choi, and Napa Cabbage have been seeded. These can take a little chill so once they’re strong enough, they’ll transplanted directly into beds outdoors.
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After a few years of experimenting a slightly different design was chosen. Most often the grow light fixtures are suspended on chains which lower or raise the lights as needed. After a few crushing slips, a different approach was needed.
After the basic rack was constructed, the lights were placed in a fixed position above the trays. To adjust the light height the idea is to raise or lower the trays rather than the lights. To do this boxes were made from 4”, 6”, and 8” boards. The trays fit snuggly inside the boxes while the bottoms rest on rails inside the rack base. To increase the space between plants and lights, smaller height boxes are used. The boxes can be used in various combinations to achieve an ideal height.
In the photo, the right side uses an 8+4 boxes for germinating seeds (which puts the lights at 1” above the seed tray. On the left are 6+4 boxes which gives about 2-1/2” for the plants.