Tater + onion dispenser system

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Picture of Tater + onion dispenser system
So here's the situation.  It is fall. The harvest rolls in.  Now you've got a whole pile of potatoes and onions.  What do you do with them all winter?  You could use some bags or crates, but that tends to get dirt everywhere, always be in the way, and makes hard to get a few out when dinner calls.

Here's the design I came up with to solve that problem.  It consists of a large, divided crate capable of handling several hundred pounds of ground-grown goodness.  But unlike a crate there's a hopper on the bottom so you can easily just grab a few and since it's a FIFO (first in, first out) arrangement, you use up your oldest food first to help prevent spoilage.

I think what I came up with is an elegant and easily constructed solution to these problems.
(Even if I do say so mesself...)

Enough teaser. Let's get started!

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Step 1: What you need

* 6 2x2's
* lots of lattice slats - you know, that stuff the hardware store sells for around the bottom of decks and gazebos.  I cut my own down from 2x4's because I didn't want to run into town.  Not really worth it.  Just buy the slats.
* lots of 1 inch brads
* a few grabber screws
* some OSB chip-board

* a saw of some kind
* screwdriver, drill, and optionally a countersink for the screws
* a 16ga brad nailer or stapler - yeah, I know, usually I try and write these instructables so that you can get by without special tools.  This time, however, you really need something that can lay down some nails fast and easy or you'll go crazy.

* It may seem hard to believe, but a reasonably competent person could knock one of these out in an evening after work!  (Took me two.)

Uncannie14 months ago

Just curiosity... could you use some 'slatted' doors, like those used on closets, to make these much easier? Most of them are 18" wide, the angled slats would allow air to pass through but not the veggies inside, and all that slat cutting would become unnecessary. I picked up some used closet doors from Habitat for Humanity and used them to build bins like this. I'll have to make more so I can add photos and write up an Instructable or two. Those closet doors make lots of things, I've made a linen closet, shoe racks, veggie bin, laundry hamper..... You can find used ones at most flea markets and re-sale shops for very little money (I paid $5 each for mine!). I love your idea... just so much extra work!

PS118 (author)  Uncannie13 months ago

That's a good idea. Or even some old window shutters might work.

zygomatic1 year ago
Cool idea, but I've always heard that storing onions and potatoes together makes them both go bad faster.
It does. It's a bad idea to keep them within a few feet of each other. The onions need maximum dryness and the potatoes give off quite a bit of humidity
dbrooks11 year ago
You could also make a slant so that the potatoes are about 1-2 width on bottom and more and more width as you go up. This could also prove as an easy way to catch the dirt that falls out, as it would fall into the somewhat large area beneath the slant. (provided your slant wasn't solid, of course.)
k-twizel1 year ago
full to the top: 48"x24"x16"= 18,432 cubic inches which converts to aprox. 9 US Bushels of Onions and 48"x24"x28"= 32,256 cubic inches converts to aprox 15 US Bushels of potatoes :-) not sure I could eat that much but I could give some away
PS118 (author)  k-twizel1 year ago
Yeah! Thanks for the hint!

With a little googling I found:

So combined with your measurements that works out to:
750 pounds (340kg) of potatoes (going off 50lbs/bushel)
513 pounds (233kg) of onions

Hmmm... Is that right? That seems like a lot more than it looks. Oh well. :}
k-twizel PS1181 year ago
That does seem a bit high to me too... will your rig support that much weight? I reran the numbers using: and get 8.6 bu Onions and 15.0 bu of Potatoes and at 50 lbs/bushel (lots of moisture makes heavy) your calcs are good.

The slope at the bottom of your rig may reduce the overall volume but not by much.

Thanks for the opportunity to do math in public :)
poofrabbit1 year ago
Congratulations on being a finalist in the be prepare contest!
cswpil1 year ago
part 2 other than that is a very nice set up and I am gonna build one for our taters
cswpil1 year ago
besides the FIFO issue for some reason when you place onions and potatoes next to each other they tend to sprout faster than if the are separated by more distance. that's why the old potato/onion bends people use to use were only about a weeks work of both in size
bcavaciuti1 year ago
its a brilliant idea but maybe it would benefit from an opaque covering because potatoes start to germinate when in sunlight and also to make sure it really is FIFO you could make the bottom tilt towards the front then the ones at the back would fall down ...maybe that would work :D good idea
Don't they get bruised or weirdo mold growing on them? Or is that just the store bought ones because those have been sitting around for a while since they were harvested?
PS118 (author) 1 year ago
BTW, somebody pointed out that this might not be a perfect FIFO system. Since the potatoes are always taken from the front, and the ones above want to fall straight down, then those in the back corner may not cycle through. I'm not sure if that's going to happen in practice or not, but certainly something to keep an eye on!
Jobar007 PS1181 year ago
Make a baffle to push them back first and that would fix that problem.
PS118 (author)  Jobar0071 year ago
I'll keep an eye out for a few months, but if I start having problems I may jsut take that advice. Thanks!
Jobar0071 year ago
Would the slats be strong enough? The price for store bought slats would probably double the price of this project... Unless you don't have a way to accurately cut the slats out or the time to do so. Personally, my time is worthless (::grin::) so if you are like me, the benefit wouldn't outweigh the cost.

It looks like you ripped the 2X4 into half inch thick sections for your slats. Is that accurate?
PS118 (author)  Jobar0071 year ago
Pretty much. I already had some some cut down to 1x2 from another project. (Those I ALWAYS rip down myself. You just can't find a decently straight one in the store!) So I just ripped those in half.

Would take some time to go all the way down, but hey, whichever way you want to go, right? ;)
This is genius. And I wish I had that many onions and potatoes. :D
very clever!