If this works, we will have made some serious lemonade out of lemons, or in this case: potatoes out of old hay and built up manure from the barn. We’re calling it the “Potato Monolith” and i’ll be revisiting it as the season progresses with a harvest report at the end with my thumbs up or down on the technique.
We have a serious mole and vole problem here, which can be heartbreaking when planting things in the ground. Case in point: a 1/2 inch thick Oregon Grape shrub bit the dust yesterday thanks to what i believe was a mole swipe. Sawed right off at the ground. Serious bummer: it flowered beautifully this spring and was beginning to send out side shoots. Now all that’s left is a mole hole. Sad Miranda. My neighbor mentioned planting potatoes in a tower to avoid mole damage, so i thought i’d give it a shot! We had all the materials on hand, so this was a fun weekend project.
The basics: Circle or oval ‘cage’ made of field fencing. Section of chicken wire to fit in the bottom, stuffed down to ground level. Compost, soil, hay or leaves. That’s it! “Thanks” to the lack of any cleaning by the previous owners, we have several feet deep of ‘compost’ aka nasty old manure built up in the barn. There’s also quite a nice layer of old hay on the floor. Waste not, want not! I shlepped too many wheelbarrow loads (if i had known how much that little rabbit QT room really had on the ground i would have used the trailer) of the manure and several of old hay and set up my cage. We had fenced our new orchard trees with fencing i deemed too short and replaced, so i already had the perfect size of cage on hand. I like to cut the top horizontal piece of metal leaving stabby spikes that i can flip over and stick into the ground. I made the cage ‘ovular’ in shape (just ask my husband how many times i said the word “ovularly” this weekend, haha) to create as much surface area as possible and planted the seed potatoes towards the outer 8 inches.
My ‘technique’ was this: chicken wire floor, layer of hay, layer of ‘dirt/compost’, seed potatoes, hay, dirt, potatoes, hay etc. I’m concerned that i planted a heck of a lot of potatoes for the amount of usable interior space, especially once the hay begins to settle….. so, we shall see! I have planted potatoes in a barrel before, and it worked, but didn’t seem to maximize the space as the foliage could only grow up. I like the idea that this tower will be covered in green sticking out from all sides…. I’m not at all sure this will work, but if it does – yee haw! Bring on experimental vegetable growing!
Have you ever planted potatoes in a tower or barrel? What was your experience?