I love it when I stumble upon creative gardening projects, especially when they allow me to make use of items I’ve already got lying around the homestead, like this wire fencing.
On a recent internet trip to the Sunset Magazine site, I came across a little how-to article entitled, “How To Grow Potatoes in Towers”. I was immediately inspired to put what I learned into action!
Over the weekend, I created my own wire fence towers.
Now, I am using them for two different purposes in my garden…
First, I am using them just exactly for what the Sunset article designed them for: potato towers. I’ve got eight different towers for eight different types of potatoes that I am growing this year.
I’ve never grown them, this way, before, and I am very anxious to see how the harvest turns out. I’ve read that this method can increase yields up to 25% over growing them in the ground.
It did take some time to fashion all of the towers, but I’ll be able to use these same towers for years to come, so the time spent was well worth it.
Unlike the Sunset Magazine towers, I have opted not to cover the towers with bamboo screening (which was mainly used for looks), and have added chicken wire to the bottom of the tower to keep gophers from tunneling up into the cages. (Last year I lost about half of my row-planted potato crop to gophers.)
I’ve already got the potato seeds planted and watered. Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for the tubers and stolons to grow, and then keep mulching them all the way up the tower with compost and straw hay. I hope to begin harvesting the potatoes in about five to six months. Wish me luck!
The second way I’m putting the wire fence towers to use in my garden is as compost bins.
Just as the potato towers are layered with compost and straw hay, these towers are layered with grass clippings, fallen leaves, kitchen waste, and garden weeds.
The towers can be turned on their sides, rolled around, and then flipped upside down, from time to time, to stir up the ingredients and speed up the decomposition. I’m curious to find out just how long it will take to make fully decomposed compost using this method.
I’ve placed the row of compost cylinders right behind the row of potato towers in the garden. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to add some of the freshly made compost directly into the potato towers as the season progresses to nourish the growing tubers and aid in increasing the harvest. Wish me luck again!
In a few more weeks, it’s going to be time to start planting out tomato seedlings, and guess what? Using this same idea, I’m planning on making even more wire cages to grow my tomatoes in. (After all, that was what the Sunset grower first used her wire towers for before turning them into potato towers). I’ll use wire with larger squares, and instead of attaching the chicken wire to the bottom of the tower, I’ll simply line the hole with chicken wire before planting the tomatoes in the ground.
I love that I’m going to be able to put so much of our leftover wire fencing to use in the garden this year, and you can bet I’ll be on the lookout for even more creative ways to use it around our wonderful homestead.
If you are interested in making potato towers of your own, make sure you check out the link to the original Sunset Magazine article, above. I think it’s a great way to try growing potatoes, no matter what size garden you’ve got.
Have you ever grown potatoes or composted this way? If so, what were your results? If not, would you like to give it a try? What other creative ways have you used wire fencing around your garden or home?