How to Plant Potatoes In a Potato Tower

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Now that you have the potato tower built and filled with good compost/potting soil mix, it’s time to plant the seeds potatoes.

Remember, late season potatoes seem to work the best in these potato towers, although I have read that some mid and early season varieties produce well, too.

Some good late season varieties include Bintje, Butte, and German Butterball.

Some good mid and early season potatoes are Red Pontiac and Kennebec.

Preparing the Seed Potatoes for Planting

You plant potatoes in a potato tower the same way you would plant them using any other method.

The first thing you want to do is cut your seed potatoes in smaller pieces if it’s needed. You want each piece to be about the size of a lime, give or take.

The most important thing to remember when cutting the pieces is that you want to have at least two eyes per piece. This will ensure you get good plant growth.

Also, you want to leave a good bit of “meat” around each eye, so don’t cut too close to the eyes if you can help it.

Let the Potato Seed Pieces Dry Before Planting

Once the pieces are cut you can either let them sit for a day in a dry place, or plant them right away. Allowing the seed potato pieces to dry out a bit can help to keep them from rotting, and protect against possible disease.

If you have had dry conditions recently you can plant them right after cutting. If it has been wet and damp, it’s a good idea to let them dry out.

You’ll know they have dried enough for planting when they shrivel a bit, and form a dry scab over the cut flesh.

Now that your seed potato pieces are ready for planting it’s time to get dirty!

Planting the Potatoes In the Potato Tower

The seed potatoes need to be planted four to six inches deep and the optimum spacing is about twelve inches apart.

The first thing you want to do is create two trenches that are between four and five inches deep and about twelve inches apart.

I just used my hand to scoop out the soil and lay it aside. You can use a trowel if you like.

Create Two Trenches for Planting the Seed Potatoes

Next, you want to lay out your seed potatoes in the trench with the eyes facing towards the sky. This is important, you don’t want the eyes facing down.

I like to press while twisting the seed pieces gently into the soil to make sure they make good contact with the soil. Don’t press down too hard, just set the piece into the soil just a bit.

Plant Seed Potatoes in the Trenches

Since the potato tower is only 2 feet by 2 feet I cheated a bit and planted my seed potatoes six inches apart instead of twelve.

Once you have all the potato seed pieces in place, cover with the soil, give the area a gentle pat with the palm of your hand, and water the soil well.

Cover the Seed Potatoes with Soil

You want to keep the soil continually moist, but not soggy, and in a week or so you should see the plant beginning to poke out of the ground.

The potato tower acts much the same way as a container so the soil may dry out quicker than growing potatoes in the ground. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely because potatoes can be thirsty plants.

If you are interested in building your own potato tower, please check out – How To Build a Potato Tower.

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Comments

  1. dbattenfield says:

    Do you plant the potatoe eye pieces only ONE time on the bottom layer of your tower and keep adding only soil to the tower each time this original plant gets taller – OR do you add more potato eye pieces each time you add a soil layer to your tower? This was never clearly stated. in the instructions. How can the original plant live and be buried so deeply in the tower if you plant seed piece only once.
    Also, when you harvest the potatoes from the bottom of the tower layers, what keeps the soil on the inside of the tower from caving in along with the plants?

    • Hello – You only plant the seed potato pieces one time then add soil around the plant as it grows. I apologize if the instructions were unclear. I will continually post on the potato tower as it grows throughout the season.

      Basically, you wait until the plant is eight to twelve inches tall and then add a new row of boards all the way around and fill with soil. The majority of the leaves will be left uncovered. As it continues to grow you just repeat the process. Although the stems and roots are buried the leaves are still above ground where it can receive sunlight. As long as the potato plant has exposed leaves, water and soil it will live. Actually the more you cover the stems the more potatoes you will get (to a point) as the plant will continue to produce potatoes along the stem if it’s covered with soil. If the stem is exposed to sunlight it will stop producing tubers at the soil line.

      When harvesting the potatoes take off only one board at a time if you are worried about it caving in. Usually even if you take off all four a little soil may spill out, but it doesn’t come down like an avalanche or anything.

      I hope that helped to clear it up a bit. If you have any more questions please let me know!

  2. Can you place a board on the bottom of the tower and have it placed in a location, like a deck of cement patio? Is there enough soil in your tower to allow the plant to grow properly?
    I am thinking of growing on a deck and then have the boards I am removing to harvest the potatoes face the the yard so when removing bottom boards, if there is some soil that come out, it will not be on the deck.

    • Hi Donna – Technically, yes, you could do that. I don’t think it would be a good idea to have a tower like this on a deck. The soil is not really contained so to speak, so every time it rains or your water it soil will seep out and get on your deck.

      Also, this tower will be in place for four to five months and with the damp soil it could cause the deck boards to prematurely rot and decay.

      I think a better option for growing potatoes on a deck is using a Potato Grow Bag, like this one from Gardener’s Supply – Potato Grow Bag. You could even put it on a plant caddy that has wheels to make it mobile.

      Thanks for your question, Donna, and I hope this helps!

  3. Hi. I noticed that my seed potatoes are not sprouting. I pulled one out and it was moldy. What should I do? Maybe throw in the towel. Also I am in Arizona do you think it is just too hot to grow potatoes? Any help would be great. Thanks.

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