So we are now 60% of the way to Potato Tower Harvest (average harvest date for spuds is 100 days) and things are progressing rather well. With 60 days of growth in, I have added three more rungs, and the more vigorous plants are on rung 5.
This really exemplifies the need, as “Walker” stated in the Month 1 comments, to place only one variety in each tower. The vigorous variety (likely Yukon) would be on rung 6 if I had been able to push it with hilling. The slower growing varieties are definitely struggling to keep up – actually having their growth retarded somewhat due to the hilled soil washing over their top growth more than I would like (we’ve had some hum dinger rain events). Still things are progressing nicely – other than some flea beetles they are disease and pest free right now.
This is the tower after its latest hilling. In a perfect world, the left plant would have received more hilling, and the right plant less. The plant in the back is about right by my guess. There are actually 5-6 plants that I have had to “train” into these three piles to facilitate hilling at 3 different levels in such a small space.
I just harvest my first (baby) spuds from my field sown plants. They were Yukons and only producing across about 8″ of soil. Even in this first attempt at Towering, I have potentially over 20″ of tuber production, perhaps doubling the yield or more when you factor in the TLC that such a small planting allow me to give it. I have lavished water, the best compost, mycelium inoculation, and fish emulsion on this tower. I can’t wait for Month 3.2 when I harvest!
As I have already gleaned many learnings from this, I wanted to put them into practice as early as possible so I have started 2 new towers – a Purple Viking and a Kennebec. Main changes:
- Single Variety per Tower
- Hilling every 2 weeks leaving 3-4″ of Top Growth
- Fencing to keep my crazy dog out.
- Placing the towers where I want 12 cu feet of compost next year (edge of my permaculture guilds)
Even with the foibles of the First Attempt it is still going strong and I am very optimistic about the harvest. Look for a recap towards the end of July!