Why on earth would you want a potato planter, anyway? Don’t potatoes grow just fine when direct-sown in garden soil? They certainly do – but higher yields with less work are very appealing to me. Forcing the plants to grow vertically conserves garden space, and increases your harvest!
The concept –
Instead of direct planting, some folks use tires, buckets, or tubs as planters to grow “lazy bed” potatoes. This planter box method has some distinct advantages. Made with recycled pallet lumber, cedar, redwood, or even pressure treated boards, this design works quite well. I know there’s controversy over the safety of pressure treated in contact with food plants – so you’ll have to research and make that decision for yourself! For purchased lumber, I’ve found fence or deck boards to be the most cost-effective.
Note: If you are fortunate enough to have a supply of black locust lumber readily available, call me!
What does it look like?
This simple design shown below allows you to add layers of compost-rich soil, along with the boards of your choice as the ‘tater plants grow, causing the potatoes to grow upward. This creation of vertical space gives the plants more room for a higher potato yield as the season progresses. It also provides an opportunity to unscrew a bottom board and sneak in an early harvest of new potatoes!
Let’s build one –
You’ll see that constructing your very own potato planter is simple. You’ll need four vertical stakes, a pile of boards, some Torx T25 wood screws, seed potatoes, and some composted garden soil mix. Dimensions are really not critical – just use what you have readily available.
For mine, I ripped some 2-by lumber into 1 ½” x 1 ½” x 48″ stakes. I cut a point on each of them using my miter saw. Again using the miter saw, I cut the fencing boards for the sides into twelve pieces measuring 25 ¼” and twelve pieces measuring 24″. Next, I used my Irwin Quick Grip Clamps to clamp the top and bottom 25 ¼” boards to two of the vertical stakes – leaving a 5/8″ overlap on each side. I pre-drilled all of the screw holes to limit splitting. It was much easier to lay all of the boards out on each side and do the pre-drilling at once.
Space the bottom board at least 12″ up from the pointy end of the stakes. This will allow tapping them into the ground with a rubber mallet. Repeat this procedure for the opposite side. I continued assembling mine on my workbench, then took it out to the garden for final installation. When you first plant, you will start with one or two “courses” of boards. You will then add composted dirt mixture and side boards as the potatoes grow. Time, water, mulch and in a few months: