Lenggong, Perak, Malaysia
Tue 22 Feb 2011 30 °C
Saving space and increasing production - it's like causing serious harm to two birds using only one stone. That's (metaphorically) what the potato tower does. In fact, throw in recycling and we are practically taking out a whole flock with one flex of the arm.
I went with Ladia, the local farmer on a quick scout around town where we managed to fill the back of the car with old motorbike tires. Back at the farm, we had a real workout attempting to turn the rubber tires inside-out. By turning them inside-out, there is no lip for water to pool inside, meaning no place for insects to breed or for soil to become flooded.
The tires are used all around the property to hold and protect a variety of crops. I plant these ones with potatoes, creating the first layer of the potato tower. In time, the plant will grow a stem and leafy foliage and begin to produce its potatoes beneath the soil. Once the plant has reached a reasonable height above the soil, we place a second tire on top of the first and fill with soil.
Soon, the plant will continue to grow and begin to produce more potatoes in the second layer of soil. Again, once the plant has reached a suitable height, another tire can be added to the tower along with soil, encouraging the plant to strive for greater heights.
Hopefully, by the fourth or fifth layer, the tires will be able to be removed and a large quantity of potatoes harvested. In order for this to be successful, the potatoes need a long growing season which means plant early and harvest late.
The benefits of this method are obvious and exciting to me as it allows potatoes to be grown in small spaces. It shows that you don't necessarily need a large plot but simply a small courtyard in which to stack a few towers.