How to Grow 100 Pounds of Potatoes in 4 Sq Feet

How to Grow Potatoes in a Wire Cage




Build Your Own Potato Growing Box
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114 Responses to “How to Grow 100 Pounds of Potatoes in 4 Sq Feet”

  1. h lee says:

    Do you add more potatoes each time you add more dirt and I mean potatoes for planting

    • Denny says:

      No the potatoes grow from or off of the vines that grew from the original seed potatoes. that is why you keep covering with dirt so the vine or stalk produces more potatoes. remember loose soil do not compress.

      • Dolphin Puncher-Baby Seal Beater says:

        Other versions of this exact-same system indicate that you do in fact plant another layer of potatoes. This makes it a little confusing as to what is correct, but a little common sense goes a long way. Potatoes are tubers and do not grow on vines.

        • Andy Hawkins says:

          You do not need to plant another layer of potatoes when you add another later of soil. Potatoes grow off the root stem which is beneath the soil, by adding another layer of soil you are forcing that root stem to grow more in order to reach the surface therefore producing more more stem from which more potatoes can and will grow.

          You CAN add more potatoes to each layer but eventually you will reach a point where the planter is just overcrowded with plants and root stems so it not necessary at all.

          Why not build two and try a side by side experiment and let us know how it goes?

          • BIll Hayes says:

            Fertilizer of some sort?

          • Robert Bender says:

            I tried it last year apparently youkon gold will not grow like you say and am trying a different kind this year

          • selwyn says:

            another system is to plant your base potatoes in an old tyre, then as the potato grows one adds another tyre and soil and so on, depends how many old tyres are laying around, as to how high to go.

          • Bernadette says:

            Actually… it depends on the type of potatoe you grow.

            Some potatoes are more like “indeterminant tomatoes” and they keep growing up and producing… while other spuds are more like short tomatoes, that just grow to a certain height.

            You need to know that you have the right variety that will keep setting tubers (the potatoes you harvest) off of the stalk that keeps growing.

        • Sigo says:

          I used this method. You do not have to add potatoes as you add dirt. I ended up with 10 lbs of potatoes from each tower/box. Of course you can, but like another person said, the dirt will get crowded, limiting your harvest potential.

      • stephen bishop says:

        I used potatoes out of the bag in the house, purchased form the grocery store, and I only got a few potatoes, and they were at the very bottom. so there is more to it then building the box, there must be something with the type of potatoes you would use to start the process. And read the comments, lots of people didn’t get many potatoes!!!!!!!

        • peacemom says:

          Grocery store potatoes are treated with chemicals that keep them from sprouting, this lets them store longer for shipping. Buying seed potatoes from a seed grower is the way to go, they will not have growth inhibitor sprayed on them. Then you can save some of your own to plant the next season.

        • Krista says:

          Potatoes from the grocery store are treated with chemicals to prevent them from sprouting, so it’s a wonder you harvested any potatoes at all! You need to buy seed potatoes from a garden or farm store.

        • db says:

          The potatoes you buy at the grocery store are sprayed with a growth retardant. That do that so the potatoes don’t sprout, while waiting to be used. You are more likely to succeed, if you use seed potatoes, which are not sprayed with growth retardant.

          • Peter Haworth says:

            All the spuds we buy get sprouts, all we do is cut them in half, plant them and three too four months later free potatoes

        • John Jones says:

          A lot of the potatoes bought from the store have been sprayed so that they will not produce more potatoes. They do this to help keep them from sprouting so quickly in the bags. I have planted store bought potatoes and planted them in the ground next to my seed potatoes. The store bought ones produced beautiful plants but no potatoes. If you want a good crop use seed potatoes.

        • Judy Brunner says:

          your potatoes must have eyes on them before you bury them. wait for the leaves of the plant to die first before harvesting . good luck and have fun

    • Jo says:

      No. When you add a board you add soil that will cover a portion of the potato plant. The potatoes grow from the roots.

  2. Cathy Nesbitt says:

    This seems like a wonderful way to grow potatoes in a small space. Love it and will do this during this growing season.

  3. AMOS says:

    How long does it take for the first potatoes to grow? Do you keep the box up for the entire growing season? What type of potatoes do you use to start?

    • db says:

      I believe, the potatoes start to develop about the time the plant flowers. I could be wrong on that. If you like baby potatoes, you can take them early. If you want your taters to all be big, wait until the plant starts to die off. You do keep the box up for the entire growing season. You should use seed potatoes, which you can get from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, or online. You can try potatoes from the grocery store, but they are sprayed with a growth retardant that makes it unlikely you will get many taters.

  4. Liz says:

    How often do u have to water the space?

    • Debbie says:

      Watering is essential. I used this method one year and found watering from the top didn’t allow the water to seep to the roots. Next time I would trench around the outside of the box like a little moat and water several times a week. Potatoes like water to grow.

      • Ray Donahue says:

        In the middle of the box provide a two inch Dia PVC pipe with holes every 8 0 10 inches and water as needed via this stand pipe. Just an idea

      • barbara says:

        if you take a piece of pvc and drill holes in it then
        put in center and water down pvc works good

      • Elizabeth says:

        To make sure you water it evenly, get two lengths of agricultural drainpipe the same length as the height of the box- use the smallest gauge of the stuff with perforated slits along it – and stand one up about six inches in from opposite corners and fill soil around it as you fill the box. Then water into the top of the drain.
        When you’ve half filled the box, insert two more shorter drainpipes on the other corners, to irrigate the upper layers.
        Don’t over-water the longer pipes, or you risk making the bottom layers too wet – although you could make some drain
        age holes at the side of the base to carry away excess water.

  5. Liz says:

    We did 4 boxes this year and didn’t even get 10 lbs of potatoes from them. This definitely over estimates the amount of potatoes that you get and we also found that the potatoes only grew at the very bottom of the container where we first planted them. We didn’t get any potatoes up inside as they grew taller and taller. They were beautiful plants but did nothing on the way up the box.

    • Eric says:

      Potatoes are tubers, meaning they grow from the root system. In order for this to work, you need to plant potatoes on each level. From sprouting leaves to finish depends on the variety you planted. Therefore, Google is your friend.

      • liberty says:

        I have grown from this method and you do not need to plant a new layer when you put more dirt in. As the plant grows up through the dirt it starts to put off potatoes and I never had to plant another layer of potatoes and I got about 200 new potatoes from this method

      • db says:

        Google is indeed your friend, but some of the stuff you find is utter nonsense, like the suggestion that you need to plant new potatoes at each level. That is not how it works. You need to add soil to each level, just like the instructions say. You DO NOT need to add new potatoes. As the plant grows taller, it grows new roots higher on the plant. Those new roots will grow new potatoes. If you did not get many potatoes, you probably were using potatoes that you bought from the grocery stores. Those will not work as well as seed potatoes purchased from a feed store or Home Depot.

    • Gib Ahlstrand says:

      This is EXACTLY my experience. I just harvested my box today, 9-18-2015, and was disappointed to get only 6# 11 Oz of spuds, and they only grew in the bottom 3rd of the box. Yukon Golds. What are we doing wrong? The buried branches just rotted away, tho some stem remained, but no tubers at all. Canopy looked great all summer long, till it collapsed this fall, as they do. But that did not mean I was growing tubers all summer long.

      • Emma says:

        Yukon Golds will not work. The variety you plant is key (as Eric pointed out).

      • Robert Bender says:

        Yukon Golds are the only ones that won’t grow tubers

        • Karen Carver says:

          My husband and I grew and sold vegetables for 16+ years at our local farmers market. We planted over 200 #’s of potatoes (several varieties). Yukon golds produced less than any other kind but they get huge if you let them grow longer. We always planted deep and mounded dirt up around them as they grew. They will produce all up through that mound. People have been doing that for hundreds of years and it’s hard work. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t get potatoes for all their work.

  6. Chris says:

    Can you do this with sweet potatoes too?

  7. big b says:

    No you don’t need to add more spuds. They grow from the buried shoots. And don’t cut your potatoes put whole spud in the dirt you will get a larger root structure so more spuds. Also adding worms to your spud box will help micronutrients development.

  8. Walter says:

    I’ve done something similar that worked. Seed potatoes in bottom with dirt. Let greens grow up a little more than a foot, then add about a 4 inch layer of mulch, and 4 inches of dirt, leaving a couple inches of the leaves out the top, and water well. Roots will start to grow from the sides of the leaves in the dirt layer, and produce potatoes at that point. So you will have multiple layers of potatoes. I never have gotten a 100 pounds, but i did get a scale-weighed 65 pounds when I totally dismantled the bin, and between 75 and 80 pounds with pulling spuds over time.

  9. Brian says:

    I’ve read this works with old recycled tires as well
    Anybody have any feed back on this method
    A great way to recycle and not spend money on wood

    • Mandy says:

      I have done it with tyres, use one first lay soil and plant potatoes, cover with 4 to 6 inches dirt then as the plant grows, you add another tyre and soil leaving a couple of inches of green plant showing and keep going with tyres and soil as the plant grows. I water as I go and water holds some in the sides of the tyres which is helpful. When ready to harvest potatoes just dismantle tyre structure, use again next time.

      • Teri Schroeder says:

        As other have mentioned it is not healthy to grow food items in discarded tires because they leach toxic chemicals into the soil

    • Eva says:

      Yes it does work with tires, but you need a lot of dirt to fill the tires properly. The trick is to not overfill the box or tire, leaving some leaves peeking out the top, and when we did it they never got to more than 6 inches tall before we layered in more dirt. You can do it with plastic garbage cans, and large plant pots, the main problem is getting enough water into the soil without getting too much. The tires are wider openings and work well. You can also take straw bales and set on the ground with the ends up, so the water will run into the straw, dig a hole into the bale, and plant your potato eye in the hole, and cover up, these water easier, and the straw will grow nice potatoes. My brother’s dad told about a friend of his turning back the sod on the prairie, and planting potatoes turning the length of sod back down over the eyes, and then going down the row later and ploughing the potatoes to the surface. The cut in the sod allows the tops to grow out, and the water to come in.

    • silver says:

      do NOT use tires! they leach toxic chemicals including formaldehyde which is a carcinogen. Very, very, very bad idea to use tires in your food production areas!

    • larry robichaud says:

      I’ve done it with tires many times with good results

    • Billie says:

      I use old tires- can get them free from Les Shwaub – works good- but discovered slugs really like to hide in the tires !

    • John says:

      That’s what I use, old tires are easy to come by, I just add another tire after the plant grows, fill around the plant with loose soil, wait for more growth and add another tire, not sure I have the results some people claim, but it’s easier to knock down the tires than digging them out of the ground, Good Luck

  10. bern smith says:

    Can youbuse pressure treates lumber

  11. cheryl harrington says:

    I would like to know if growing potatos in tyres has any health implications Is it safe ???

    • Norm says:

      Don’t use tires. They are full of toxins that leach as the tires deteriorate. I used to do this, but don’t anymore after I learned the risks. Part of the toxic nature of rubber leachate is due to its mineral content: aluminum, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, sulfur, and zinc have all been identified in laboratory and field leachates. And, yes, the plants absorb these materials. References, Bucknell University, Washington State University,

  12. Sara says:

    I trying mine in tires for the first attempt. I started about 5 weeks ago and am about to put the third tire on. Two plants are probably over the height of the third tires and the others are only starting to break through the top of the second. No idea the end yield yet though. I am in nh, so we are decently cold ( been high 30s and low 40 a most nights) and almost no rain. I am sure results vary by location

    • Norm says:

      Don’t use tires. They are full of toxins that leach as the tires deteriorate. I used to do this, but don’t anymore after I learned the risks. Part of the toxic nature of rubber leachate is due to its mineral content: aluminum, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, sulfur, and zinc have all been identified in laboratory and field leachates. And, yes, the plants absorb these materials. References, Bucknell University, Washington State University,

  13. Teddy says:

    Anyone who believes you can actually get 100# of potatoes using this method is kidding themselves. Why not just use large plastic planting containers and do multiple plantings throughout the season? You can get a solid 15# per 1# planted if you have adequate fertility, drainage, and moisture. It’s far easier and you will still get fantastic results.

    Also, do not use pressure treated lumber or tires. Potatoes incorporate toxins more readily than many other vegetables, which is why getting organic potatoes is important if you want to avoid feeding your family poisons. Use tire planting for non-edibles.

    If you want solid gardening advice, don’t look for it on a home design website.

    • Joy L Sones says:

      When I homesteaded, we planted in the traditional way. We always planted 100# of seed potatoes, stole the babies all season, and somehow always got 500# at the end of the season. Soooo, if you get a better average than 5 to 1 using this method…it’s all good!

  14. Linda says:

    How long you need to harvest potatoes?

  15. kevin says:

    I do a similar thing by using black bin bags with drainage holes in bottom. I fold over when I plant my first tubers then unfold slowly as the shoots grow, filling with soil as I go. I continue doing this until the bag is completely unfolded. I don’t add any extra potatoes and always have a good yield.

  16. Johnny says:

    I hate to be that guy but 4 square feet is a two dimensional measurement. I believe this box is 8 cubic feet. Potato potato…

  17. Joe says:

    Did you fertilize? I’ve heard that potatoes like a lot of nitrogen. This summer I’m planning to plant beans (nitrogen fixers) next to my spuds.

  18. Daniel says:

    Yes. You have to use the right varieties. Purple potatoes didnt seem to do layers. I may try again using a leaf layer, then soil.

  19. Shiloh says:

    Oh, the things I could do if I had the tools, materials, ability to drive a straight nail!

  20. Salty says:

    Very good, will have to try.

  21. jonny says:

    I have a concrete patio……how deep do i need to make the base to compensate for no ground soil?

  22. sharon patton says:

    My arms arent lo g enough to plant them with the
    tall wire

  23. You are absolutely correct on all points. NO tires or pressure treated lumber!!!!!Also you won’t get 100lbs.

  24. brenda says:

    We are in East Tx where the fire ants are a problem. How do you keep the ants out.

  25. Pj says:

    How do you store a hundred pounds, or more, of potatoes?

  26. TERESA says:

    im in south Carolina. when do u start planting the potatoes?

  27. Laura L. says:

    I’ve known people to use tall plastic waste cans, and tires. But is looks like a great place to incorporate art into the garden, by painting scenes or colorful designs on the sides. Such a fun project for a small space. It can even be a kids project.

  28. Dave says:

    If you are digging them out from the bottom aren’t you effecting the roots

  29. Pauleen says:

    I have used tyres. It worked really well. I just kept adding a tyre and more potting mix and I did get was easy to get at as well..

  30. stephen bishop says:

    I used potatoes out of the bag in the house, purchased form the grocery store, and I only got a few potatoes, and they were at the very bottom. so there is more to it then building the box, there must be something with the type of potatoes you would use to start the process. And read the comments, lots of people didn’t get many potatoes!!!!!!!

    • BB says:

      Potatoes from grocery stores are generally treated with chemicals like ‘Bud Nip’ which retard the potatoes ability to go to seed. This poison is added to keep potatoes from sprouting so they can look good longer in the store. These potatoes would not be a good choice to grow since they will not sprout. It’s best to get organic ‘seed potatoes’, if you can…or atleast Organic potatoes from the store.

  31. Mg parr says:

    What is the best growing dirt medium to use for the best potatoes?

  32. Andrea says:

    I’ve done this with wire fencing. It worked great. I mixed hay and compost for my layers, the hay kept the soil loose. Love the idea of the PVC pipe for watering. I never added more potatoes after the first planting.

  33. Ruth says:

    I’d worry about eating anything grown in old tires, I don’t remember what it was but some toxin leaching into soil.

  34. Curt says:

    You can also use old tires

  35. slowhand says:

    whats wrong with the old fashioned method of plating in the ground……………We have not bought a spud in the last 10 years, saved a fortune

  36. Chris says:

    Your mistake was using Yukon Golds. Early season potatoes will not keep making more spuds no matter how much height you keep adding. You have to use indeterminate potato varieties…which are mainly late season varieties. The potato variety you choose is one of the most important steps to making these towers work but articles almost never mention that.

  37. Herb says:

    The main thing to remember is that nutrient rich soil is the key. Also the correct balance of moisture/drainage. If you know what “Muck land” is, you will understand. It is the soil left when old swamps are drained. It is decomposed trees and other vegetation. It is black, loose, soft soil that is very fertile. You can produced this with a compost bin but it isn’t as good. Having grown Potatoes in both Muck and upland soil, I have found Muck soil to produce 5 times the amount of upland soil. Good fertilizer helps but not the total answer.

    As far as moisture. Too wet a soil will produce soggy potatoes. Too dry a soil will stunt growth and cut yield.
    In potato fields, the seed potatoes are planted in rows and as soon as the plant gets about 6″ high, a special tool is used to “Hill up” the soil from between the rows, around the plants. This is done repeatedly throughout the growing season until there is no space between the rows of plants. This leave the plants growing on a “hill” nearly a foot high with a low trench on each side. By doing this. it allows for good drainage so roots and potatoes are not sitting in water, yet can draw moisture from the subsoil.
    Hilling also keeps the maturing potatoes covered with soil to protect them from sunlight. Those exposed to sunlight will become green and unusable.
    As far as “Stealing” early potatoes, it will maybe reduce the total crop, unless you have a long growing season. Overall size might be a little smaller but it extends your harvest over the early summer rather than getting all the potatoes late in the fall.
    One last thing, Don’t bury too much of the plant each time you “hill”. you want at least 6 to 12″ of plant exposed all the time. It is the top foliage that feeds the root sunlight to produce potatoes. Hope this helps.

  38. Chad Underdonk says:

    So there seems to be a question of whether or not you need to plant more seed potatoes at every level.

    Apparently based on ten minutes of research that depends on which variety of potato you choose. There are two groups that grow differently. Determinate varieties will require seed potatoes at every level. Indeterminate varieties will continue to branch and grow every level you add dirt, just as this article describes.

    You just need to use the correct method for whichever variety of potato you plant.

  39. Kevin says:

    What time of year should I start ? I’m In The north east

    • Scott Beard says:

      After the danger of frost. Here it is April 22nd. Check your weather by googling last recorded frost for your area.

  40. Scott Beard says:

    I cannot think of any reason that a 1 X 6 could not be used. I would extend the 2 X 2’s 6 or 8 inches below the surface for stability in wind and rain. I’m in western Illinois any comment?

  41. Derrick Rivera says:

    Can’t grow potatoes from most store bought due to the treatment they due to the potatoes. It’s stops consumers from growing their own. Protects their profits……
    As soon as the shoots sprout they die off.

  42. Derrick Rivera says:

    In order to prevent potatoes from sprouting while they’re in storage, growers spray them with an aerosol agent that regulates cell division. After being sprayed with the chemicals (typically chlorpropham or maleic hydrazide) potatoes arrive at the store looking perfect, unblemished, and without any sprouts for up to a year after harvest.

  43. Joe says:

    Several of these are actually essential nutrients and are commonly added to food items marked “fortified,” such as breakfast cereals.

  44. J D says:

    This will work 100% better if you stand a piece of 2 – 3 inch PVC pipe in the center, drill evenly spaced holes in 4 sides, corresponding with each layer of boards. Do not put soil in the pipe, and when you water the top of the soil, fill the pipe with water, to help get water to the potatoes in the lower layers.

  45. Philip says:

    Ah, now I understand. As the above ground plant grows larger, you bury (add soil ) around the stem. The buried stalk becomes roots & grows more potatoes.

  46. Vickie says:

    Use seed potatoes from your local garden center. Do not use potatoes from the grocery store because those potatoes are treated with a chemical to prevent sprouting. Since you used potatoes from the grocery store, they probably did not sprout or had weak sprouts and could not produce potatoes.

  47. Dianne says:

    You need to use seed potatoes. The ones from the store have been treated with something that keeps them from reproducing.

  48. Jeramy says:

    It depends on the type of potatoes, determinant or indeterminate.

  49. Bonnie Titre says:

    Can you do this with sweet potatoes???

  50. Rudi Vali says:

    Great idea to do that however I live in a hot climate and would need wood as thick as railway sleepers.
    This would be dear as buying the potatoes
    Great idea for northern hemisphere.

  51. Lemastre says:

    Seems like a lot of mess to grow potatoes, which aren’t all that expensive at the store, are they? And if you’ve a little yard space, why not plant there instead of stacking them?

  52. Janie Dockus says:

    For this method, indeterminate type potatoes must be used! Nobody explains this! There are determinate and indeterminate types. I am using Carola this year.

  53. A Green Hand says:

    I really love eating potatoes and it’s tired to go to market to buy them! Thanks for sharing your post! I will grow some in my garden and I can enjoy potatoes everyday!

  54. Dru says:

    would this work with sweet potatoes?

  55. Mike says:

    Cut the potato in half that you plant plant the whole fine.make sure u cut the potato in half thats what will get them to grow right….

  56. Reg says:

    What type of wood do you use for this?

  57. Suzanne says:

    I always «  chit » my potatoes. It means to buy them,put them I a cardboard container( one potato per space) put the boxes on the windowsill no direct sun, and grow those eyes with little stubby eyes. Gives them a good headstart

  58. Anver says:

    How offen due you water

  59. niall says:

    You have to use seed potatoes for planting and the shop potatoes have been washed with an anti grow go to you’re car den centre and if you can get old manure from a farmer and mix it with good soil and away you go

  60. Peter Nakogee says:

    Just use a proper soil like forest soil is best oe mulch is second best. any other soil would not to good just few might grow. Plenty of water on sunny days.

  61. Kathy says:

    I didn’t read all the posts so don’t know if someone finally answered the question…But ‘determinate’ potatoes are tubers that only grow one layer of potatoes and will produce in about 2 1/2 to 3 months. Super fast! However you will need more garden space.
    ‘Indeterminate’ potatoes, my favorite, will produce potatoes all along the stem. Best grown in towers of some sort. As you add more soil the tops will grow upward, sprouting more roots from which more potatoes will sprout from. Let the tops grow up 6″, cover with soil until the tops are 2″ out of the soil, let them grow another 6″, and so on. Its best not to compact the soil down. Although these take 6-8 months, you can grow them in a very small space and they will keep for months. I think the flavor is well worth the wait!
    I always buy my favorite potatoes from the grocery store and plant those. I always buy organic potatoes and they always sprout! I’ve never tried regular ones. Have grown some pretty great gold potatoes. I’m guessing that the organic potatoes are not chemically treated? Yuck…

  62. Evan Luke says:

    wow very good information about potatoes Thanks for sharing this and keep sharing an article like this

  63. Mahir says:

    nice post.

  64. jessica jessi says:

    For this method, indeterminate type potatoes must be used! Nobody explains this! There are determinate and indeterminate types. I am using Carola this year.

  65. Steve says:

    What about watering? When we get a few boards in height how do we get water to the roots?

  66. JoAnn says:

    My husband and I built the box 4 ft x 4 ft, filled with top soil and mushroom soil and planted as instructed. Planted Yukon Gold and at the end of season dug 2 to 3 lbs of very small potatoes from the 7 lbs planted. Terribly disappointed! Glad to read all your comments and am motivated to try again next year armed with all your suggestions. Onward and upward! Thank you all for your advice!

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