So I’ve never grown potatoes before. Why? I don’t know. Truth is I’ve not grown much in the way of root vegetables until the last few years. Sort of a basic mistrust of what may or may not be going on underground. I like to be able to watch the progress of the food as it grows and potatoes, carrots, beets simply don’t allow you to do that. Yeah, yeah I know. I can watch the part above ground. I’m sorry, but it’s just not the same. I’ve tried carrots with limited success and beets, which we like but don’t need a lot of at any given moment (the pink pee is interesting to my daughter about once every few weeks, then loses its power to increase vegetable consumption). But I’ve never tried to grow the mighty spud. Which is silly, really, because I love potatoes. I mean I really love potatoes. Early in our relationship my husband and I figured out that he had grown up in a rice household and I had, as you might have guessed, grew up in a potato household. Over the years, despite our initial misgivings, we have both come to appreciate the other’s position, but I think I have really won the day. Homemade french fries will do that for you. Yeah, it’s a dirty trick, but somebody has to do it.
What’s that you say? THAT is a potato tower. You heard me right, a potato tower. Grow potatoes without using up all of your precious garden space. Okay, so that idea and the fact that I had 2×2 chicken wire that proved too big to keep rabbits out waiting in the shed convinced me to give it a go. So I asked my sweetie to pound some stakes in (our street has the word slate in the name, so guess what’s just an couple of inches below the surface) and then we made a round with the discarded chicken wire, securing the back bit by stapling it to the fence. I was determined NOT to buy new materials for this project because while I am optimistic, I am CHEAP and if it doesn’t work I’d hate to have spent a lot of dough. I then filled it around the edges with leaves, rather than the recommended straw and supplemented with a little spanghum moss that I had from another project since I thought it might help retain a little moisture. In the center, compost baby. Inserted my cut up seed potatoes in layers and filled with compost and leaves until we got about to the top. Here it is:
Will it work? I have NO idea. I’m sure I didn’t follow the directions exactly as that’s how I roll. While it is my belief that all gardening is an act of supreme optimism, the slapdash version that I usually do is strictly for the glass half-full crowd. If it does, that’s about 25 lbs of delicious potato magic coming our way. And if my children have their way, a great many of them will be prepared this way:
Awesome Oven Fries Adapted from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook
- 1.25 lbs potatoes, peeled (if you must) and cut to 1/2″ fry shapes
- 3/4 to 1t salt
- 1/2t sugar
- 4t oil
- 1t paprika
- 1/4t pepper (I use white to avoid kid detection)
Preheat oven to 450. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper (works better). Combine potatoes, 1/4t salt, sugar and cold water to cover. Soak 15 minutes, drain &blot dry. In dry bowl, combine potatoes with oil, paprika and pepper. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake, turning as they brown. 35-45 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Voila. Fan-flipping tastic. Yes, you should probably make a double batch.