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Potato Towers
There's something timeless about digging for buried treasure that every child enjoys, regardless of age. And potato harvesting is a treasure hunt! You know there are spuds hidden in the soil, but it's always a surprise to unearth their varied shapes, sizes, and colors, and see the amount of your harvest.
If you don't have garden space for potatoes, don't worry -- you can grow them in towers!
Potato towers are a productive and space-saving way to harvest some fresh spuds. Plus, this technique is easier on your back and more fun for your kids.
Here's how to build a potato tower.
  1. Using chicken wire, heavy-gauge wire, or even wooden fencing, make a cylinder that's 60 - 90cm  in diameter and between 1m - 1.5m tall. Secure the cylinder with wire fasteners. Some gardeners use old tires to create towers. Although they work well, the tires may contain heavy metals that can leach into the soil. Therefore, we don't recommend using them.
  2. Ideally, place the cylinder on cultivated ground in a location that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily, is near the house and a hose.
  3. If your cylinder is made from wire, line the inside of the cage with hay, straw, cardboard, or newspaper to prevent the soil from falling through the gaps. All of these materials will decompose during the growing season, adding to the fertility of your tower.
  4. Put a layer of straw in the bottom. followed by a 10cm thick layer of compost in the bottom of the cylinder. To save money, you can also use a mixture of compost and topsoil or potting soil.
  5. You'll need four or five seed potatoes (or pieces) from a garden nursery, each containing at least three 'eyes.' Place the potatoes on top of the compost, 15cm apart with the eyes facing outwards. Don't use grocery-store potatoes because these varieties may be susceptible to disease and have usually been treated with sprout inhibitors.
     6.   Consider growing different-colored potato varieties to give your kids a                  real thrill.
     7.   Cover the potatoes with a 10cm thick layer of soil.
     8.   Water well.
     9.   When the potato plants have grown to about 20cm, add another 10cm                  layer of  compost . Plant a few more seed potatoes in between the                      green potato plants then  cover with another 10cm layer of compost,                    leaving the tops of the original green plants above the soil line.
    10.  Continue layering compost and seed potatoes as in step 9.
    11.  When the soil line is 10cm below the top of the cylinder, stop adding                    soil and let all the potato plants continue to grow. Potatoes love                          water so keep them well watered.
    12.  After a couple of months the plants should begin to yellow -- your                        signal that it's time to harvest!
    13.  Have your kids remove the wire fasteners holding the potato tower                      together and watch as the soil and spuds come tumbling out.
    14.  After removing the spuds, save the soil for use in another container or                  spread it  in your garden.
Your kids will be impressed with the harvest -- you should find 10 to 20 new potatoes per plant! Cure the tubers in a cool room out of direct sun for two weeks. Then store them in a cool, dark basement or garage for up to six months, depending on the variety.  Burying them in some soil will prolong storage.
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