Spuds Speak

Fresh, organic potatoes from the garden!
If you're short on space but love spuds, growing potatoes vertically is a great option. We've blogged in the past about a simple vertical setup utilizing tires (click here for that information); so today we'll go over the harvesting process.

As the potatoes grew, we stacked tires and added dead leaves, sawdust, woodchips, and hay around the plants until just the tops of the plants poked out. Potatoes love loose, loamy soil; so a mix of leaves, sawdust, hay, and woodchips give the tubers plenty of space and nourishment. Now four and five tires high, we've been waiting until the leaves began to die off—a sign that the potatoes are ripe for picking.

Here's a potato plant just begging to be dug out:

To start, I removed the top tire and put the compost materials in a wagon to be carted over to our three-tiered compost bin. I was careful to shake out the compostables to ensure I wasn't overlooking any young potatoes (usually you don't start running into spuds until you've taken at least three tires off your stack). Here's a slideshow of me removing layer by layer, making sure not to waste any of the primo compost matter I'm taking out of the tires—by spring, this will be lush potting soil! Thanks Katie Mollica for being the photographer for this instructable:

Once at the bottom tire, I took the full stem of the potato plant and tossed that into the compost pile as well:

Now we get to the good stuff. The bottom layer is nothing but thick, rich earth that is like Miracle Gro on (all-organic) steroids:

It's in this black gold that you find your treasures: gorgeous potatoes that are perfect for home fries, smashed potatoes, potato-leek soup, or... homemade pierogies (stay tuned!):

We offer one-on-one and group workshops year-round in sustainability, alternative growing practices, and gardening tips. To set up an appointment, please call (315) 482-2536 or email info@betterfarm.org.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.