As I mentioned previously, we bought a lot of seed potatoes this year. And our plan was to build potato stacks to grow them in, instead of the tires we grew the taters in last year. In case you’re new to our madness, we’re trying to maximize potato production on our small urban lot. Potatoes are one of the best ways to grow calories on your land if you have a small space. Also, potatoes are awesome, delicious, versatile, and store for longer than, say, juicy heirloom tomatoes.

Here it is, first week of May and my potatoes are still chitting in the kitchen windowsill, far away from dirt and the potato stacks were still just piles of lumber, scribbled diagrams on scrap paper, and a handful of dreams.

This is a great example of how much better we really are as a pair than I could ever be individually. My wonderful, newly self-taught carpenter spouse spent her weekend in the garage, bringing together the potato stacks. And it was like a miracle to see them go from a stack of boards directly into the form we’d dreamed up months ago, before the potatoes sprouted and before she knew how to use a table saw.

Aren’t they lovely? The corner posts are fir 2×2’s, the slats are cedar fence boards cut to length. The bottom level is stationary, and all the upper boxes slide on as the potato grows, and off as it’s time to harvest. Then, before the sun set on us, we planted one full of organic seed potatoes. Working full time in an office while you’re trying to grow your sub-compact farm means you’re always racing the sunset to get the potatoes planted. Here’s an All Blue potato getting ready to be buried.

And here’s the stack with one level, planted with yukon golds, cal reds and all blues. They are all mid-season potatoes. My dream is that the day we harvest this stack will be the day we eat multicolored potato salad.

Hopefully within the next few days we can get the rest of the potatoes into the ground, and eventually we can host a potato harvest festival with garlic mashed potatoes, chipotle mashed potatoes, vegan sheppards pie, rosemary roasted breakfast potatoes, potato tacos, latkes, pierogies, baked french fries, potato salad. My fingers are crossed.


Filed under food, garden, spring, urban farming


  1. msjacks

    Ok, so wait. You nail more slats in as you go up, and put more dirt on top? Is that it? It’s the same as the tires process but with wood?

    • jess s

      yeah, it’s the same theory as the tires, but it doesn’t have the scary toxic features of tires. you don’t nail the boxes as you go, though. the boxes are stand alone/independent boxes with their sides screwed together. the potato grows, you slide a box over the corner supports and then down so it sits on the box below it. add more dirt, force potatoes higher.


  2. awesome design and execution!
    can’t wait to see how it works.

  3. Hillary

    Cool. They’re gorgeous. I think we’re going to do ours in tires this year, but if we can get our you-know-what together, maybe we’ll build some boxes too. It looks like you’ll get a lot more out of the boxes. How tall are yours going to be?

    • misterkrista

      These ones are 6 stacks high, which works out to be about 33″ with the wood we chose. I think that is ambitious because last year we only did 3 tires high, but we weren’t very good and burying the plants quickly enough as they grew.

      I am curious to see how well they slide on and off as the wood gets dirty and wet. We’ll have to report back.

  4. Hillary

    P.S. Weren’t you going to adopt some chickens? What ever happened with that?

    • misterkrista

      Our friend was giving away some of hers, and we were going to take those. When I got into designing the coop, I realized it was going to take longer than the time we had (less than two weeks) to get a coop done so we passed on those.

      However, we have made a lot of progress in the design of the coop and getting some free and some purchased materials. So, right now we were prioritizing the bees and getting all the garden beds in place. Plus I’m sharpening my construction skills! We are definitely getting chickens once we have a coop built and a secure run.

  5. Kate D.

    I am so using this idea! It’s gorgeous! And my seed potatoes are still in the bag… But we’re getting dirt in our raised beds finally tomorrow, and I’ll be planting everything over the weekend!

    • jess s

      You ordered five yards, right? Take photos! It’s hard to remember everything you go through once it’s neatly tucked in your beds. I’m excited you are planting everything. Did you see that Seattle Tilth is having a cheapie cheap plant sale tomorrow from 430pm to 7pm? I went last weekend, (and I heard you did too), but I would probably buy a lot more for $2 a pot, except friday night traffic from Oly to Sea is unbearable.

      • Yeah, I’m thinking of going again except I have at least four flats waiting for me in my mom’s greenhouse and I still have to build my potato stacks. :) Will you take pictures before and after you bury your potatoes as they go up? I’m never sure if I’m burying them at the right time. Would be a huge help!

        • jess s

          I can take lots of pictures, of course! When have I ever not over-photographed my garden! but in general I think the conventional wisdom is top 2 leaves and top 2 inches – if there’s more than that, bury them! they will get pretty high pretty fast (hopefully) and then you let the canopy grow out to produce enough energy to store in the tubers. When the canopy dies back, harvest. This can vary for different varieties, though, especially growth rate. I forget how many types you are growing. Since we’re growing so many varieties, it should be interesting to see how different they are!

  6. Wow nice creations. I am awful at woodworking, but at least am better at finding and purchasing what I need.

    • jess s

      Practice makes, well, maybe not perfect but at least better! Just curious, where would you buy a potato stack? I haven’t seen them.

  7. Jeremy

    You guys are so good at doing stuff! I love hearing about your little farm as it’s coming together, and I desperately need to attend your potato harvest party! Will work for potato based foods…

    • jess s

      Oh goodness, you’re invited, or course! Bring on the carb-loading!!! Just give me a few months for my potatoes to photosynthesize…

  8. Pingback: 2011 Spuds: Seed potato shopping! | krista and jess

  9. Pingback: Adventures in Vertical Potatoes | krista and jess

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s