Vertical Potato growing help

dragon9206January 22, 2011

I tried growing potatoes vertically year, but failed miserably. lol. I am pretty sure I know what all I did wrong last year. But I have some questions about what I should do this year.

I will be using a bunch of black plastic crates that are about 18 or so inches wide by a little over 2 feet long, by about 10 inches deep. They stack, and I have cut out the bottoms.

I heard that there are certain varieties that will not work for an upright garden. What varieties will work?

When exactly do add the next level to the growing plants?

What kind of fillers should I use? Just compost? Or something different, like straw, mulch?

How high can you go with these?

I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone could give me! Thanks in advance!

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feldon(z7 WA)

I have successfully grown potatoes upright. I use old tires. I first fill the bottom tire with soil and plant the potatoes. After the shoots appear above the soil, I add a second tire and repeat the process. Add a tire, fill with soil, add a tire fill with soil. I have gone up to six or more high. To staqrt harvesting you just remove the top tires potatoes and work yourself back down. Don't know of a variety that doesn't work. I would be interested in finding out that info myself.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 7:01PM
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crm2431(7 -Tahlequah)


How many potatoes do you harvest out of a stack?


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 8:50PM
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feldon(z7 WA)

Kind of hard to say. I can tell you that the harvest feeds a family of 5 for several months, Fall through Spring.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:10PM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

2 questions

1) how many seed potatoes?
2) What size (ish) tyre?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 6:02AM
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I tried growing russian banana in a 4'x8' bin last year, filled in gradually about 2' high with compost and sewaweed. Plants looked great, but harvest was a bust - barely got 2x my seed weight back.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 7:24AM
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My understanding is that it only works with late/long season potatoes.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 9:04AM
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I found a web page last night that had stated the you have to use late season potatoes, because early season would only make potatoes on the first level. ??

I was thinking of doing Red Pontiac, and either a yellow (Yukon Gold) or a russet. (I have seen Freedom and White Superior at my local store) Are any of those late season?
Do you plant late season potatoes at the same time you plant the early season ones?

Feldon- how tall do you let the shoots get before adding the next level? How much of the shoots do you leave exposed when you add more soil?
Oddly enough, I don't think I have access to old tires. But the crates I will be using were free, I got them from the place I work.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 10:08AM
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Why not just stack them all to start with and plant the potatoes. It is so much less work to mess with it once and then leave it alone. If the soil is nice and soft those potatoes will grow down into your bin. If you think about it, the farmers who grow acres of these don't fiddle with the plants between sowing and harvest. Altho I do like to go out and raid the bin once in a while for early potatoes.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 11:59AM
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spogarden - perhaps I am confused. I thought potatoes made tubers while growing up, and that they didn't send roots down into the soil making tubers deeper and deeper.
I thought that was why people hill them, aside from keeping the ones on the surface from turning green.

I assumed that was why people were making these tall bins to grow them in. Did I miss somehting important?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 6:29PM
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My opinion ;-)

It doesn't work, it has been tried and documented ,it "kinda" works with red pontiacs and such as those , meaning they will grow potatoes on the stem (up and away from the cluster) but it is so not worth the extra work, when I first started growing potatoes ,I was so stoked to see baby potatoes growing on my "hilled" stems, but if you were going to wait long enough for them to get big enough to have any value,you would be endangering the original cluster, unless you could come up with a way of harvesting the cluster, and then leaving the "stem potatoes" to get as large as possible before the frost kills them...

Check out my video link below, it definitely shows clearly that some potatoes will grow on the stems if you continue to hill them.

Watch this video first

and then as you watch the next video,check out the stems as I pull out the plant,you can see small potatoes starting to grow on the stem (away from the cluster)

Here is a link that might be useful: Potatoes growing up the stem (away from the seed)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 8:41PM
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My Understanding is that to get the best yields from vertical potato growing, you harvest the bottom potatoes first. This allows potatoes to continue growing on the higher stems.

Using boards to build a potato box allows you to unscrew the bottom boards to harvest the lower potatoes first, allowing continued growth of the plant and the potatoes forming higher on the stems, and extending the harvest period.

Using tires and crates will create a very tall plant, but if you have to remove the top layers first, I don't see a benefit over planting in the ground.

Here is a link that might be useful: potato bins / cages

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 9:56AM
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Thanks ekgrows! I have mostly seen people online using tires, but I have seen a couple of the bins made of boards. Maybe I will see if we have some scrap lumber and see what we can fix up.

How do you know when to start harvesting potatoes lowest in the bin?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 1:22PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Vertical growing works, sometimes well and sometimes not. It depends on many factors.

1) Use late season varieties. Short seasons like yukon gold set fruit once and never again. You get great foliage but no more potatoes. Check any potato seed seller's site for which is late season.

2) If you neglect to hill or cover your stems quickly, I understand they will not become roots and grow potatoes. That was always my problem with a busy schedule and vacations, etc.

Good luck with your garden!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's garden adventure

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 1:51PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I used the late season varieties Granola and Ranger Russet. Both were a bust but the Granola was a REAL bust. I had so many lush vines and I kept filling in soil and thinking how lovely it would be in the fall to dig those beauties up. Well the Granola produced nothing even as large as a marble. I don't know if maybe they didn't get enough sun or something, but the vines grew like crazy. I just made more work for myself to dig them up. I will never do it again. Not a single potato any any of the stems. I planted 12 pounds of seed potato: Red Gold, Purple Majesty, Caribe, Red Pontiac, and the above mentioned Granola and Ranger Russet.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 9:34PM
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