Urban Potato Tower Garden

Attempting an Urban version of a potato tower in our raised Philadelphia small lot veggie garden.  I saw a video on Facebook about building a potato tower and I was hoping to give it a try.  As of May 2017 everything on the zoning challenge front is still in the fight, so I figured why not?  Our Urban experiment of a Potato Tower is documented in this blog post.  Maybe we will make enough potatoes to offset the property taxes.

The really neat thing about this potato tower is that it is above ground and when the potatoes are ready you just take the tower walls away and you have potatoes.

The original article was published in Facebook by Patricia Lynn via shareably.net.  It is a good thing I tried this because as I tried the link to the site, it appears that the original post is now gone.  However, there are plenty of articles out there just search “create-a-potato-tower-for-plentiful-potatoes”.


potato tower by patricia lynn
potato tower by patricia lynn
small green fence
small green fence

My problem was finding straw in the city of Philadelphia and building this tower.  I found substitutes Home Depot had this small green 10 ft in length fence for $6 each and I bought two.  They also had chicken wire for about $11 dollars.  So the cage is covered.

Problem, where do I find straw?

compost bin twigs
compost bin twigs from the Big Old 2st Tree


So I figured why not try a brown paper bag?  Plus we had plenty of tree sticks from our big old tree in our compost bin.

I figure straw won’t last forever, so why not try a few things that anyone would be able to find in an urban city?

I basically made a very simple square box with the small green fence and then created a circle wall with the chicken wire inside the small green square.  The chicken wire comes with extra little pieces of wire which I used to secure to the green fence wire.

Then I lined the inside of the chicken wire with a brown paper bag the I torn in half to cover the wall.  Once the bag looked a little stable I went ahead and lined the sides with twigs from the compost bin.

Here is my 4 year old recording me add the dirt and providing commentary as he is trying to call our Big Dog.  The video is posted in YouTube. It is funny, well at least to me.

The finished potato tower would look like this:

finished potato tower #1
finished potato tower #1

Now you just add the potatoes.  The instructions say cover with about an inch of dirt.  The seeding potatoes I had sat around for a while but some already looked like they were spouting.

I marked my Urban Potato Towers with the pictures from the seed potato bags.

Even though these towers were pretty close to the diy sites, I was worried that the dirt would dry out.  One of the issues of raised beds and flower pots is the dirt drying out.  So today I was shredding old papers and decided to try using the shredded paper to keep the moisture in.

I made about a 1/2 inch layer of shredded paper and covered it with dirt and watered.  I hope this works.  It seemed to work.

This is definitely an Urban Garden Experimental now.  Reusing paper bags, raised garden, compost twigs and now shredded paper.  Oh and I almost forgot our captured rain barrel water from the city of Philly. This will be cool if it all works.

Cheers and Happy Gardening in your Small Urban Garden Lot.

Some of the early May 2017 pictures of our garden.  Crossing our fingers.



Small Gardens Produce a Healthy Soup

How about some Healthy Gazpacho Soup?

It was a great day in the garden.  The cherry tomatoes are growing like crazy as they always do.  We never did cucumbers before, but they are sure producing really well.  So well, that I had to figure out something to make with them, because a simple salad was not enough.


According to wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gazpacho), it is a Spanish dish

One thing about the internet that is nice, is all the different recipes. All the recipes call for

  • Tomatoes (some say tomato juice also but is really only took a few tomatoes to make a good 4 adult servings)
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers (I didn’t have)
  • Onion, usually red (I only had white/yellow)
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • lime juice (that I have because the wife was making margaritas)
  • Worcestershire sauce (warning you have to leave this out if you want it to be vegan or gluten free)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • cumin
  • basil leaves for a topper
  • stale bread (this I did not have so I guess it will be gluten free) – left over bread from the Italian market works best.
  • Jalapeño (this was my add because we have so many and the spice might work and it did)

I used Alton Brown’s recipe from the food network (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/gazpacho-recipe.html).  He always seems to have good basic recipes.  I did not use as much tomatoes as he suggested and I threw in another cucumber, juts because I had so many.  The blanching of the tomatoes in boiling water worked perfectly to remove the skin.  Also I highly recommend removing the seeds from the tomatoes, cucumbers and Jalapeño, it makes the final product so much better.  Without the seeds, the texture is perfect. In some recipes the mixture is blended really well, but I left it some what choppy on purpose.


So I realized also that Worcestershire (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcestershire_sauce) will make any recipe non-vegan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism) and non-gluten free (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten-free_diet).  The ingredients include barley malt vinegar (barley is not gluten free) and anchovies (not vegan, but I love them).  I don’t know how you all do it.

I tried it after a couple of hours of sitting in the frig, but if you let it sit over night!  The flavors are amazing the next day and you can really taste the cucumber.

We let you all know how this cucumber and avocado dish comes out.

Please don’t forget to sign and share our petition to save small open spaces in new developments in Philadelphia.