Introduction: Stackable Free Standing Potato Ring Tower

I wanted to try potato growing in my raised bed garden. I also wanted to try a potato tower to minimize space and maximize yield. The potatoes fill the volume of the tower so that 1) they take less space in the garden, 2) you get more yield, and 3) you don’t have to dig for them. Although there are many designs online, I wanted something free standing, stackable, and reusable (i.e.: doesn’t rot). People use tacked old tires to fit those requirements, but that is awfully ugly. So how about: attractive, free-standing, stackable, reusable, potato ring tower? That I didn’t find online, so this is my own design.

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Step 1: Materials and Cuts

4 - Composite cedar “wood” dog eared fence boards (7/16” x 4-3/4” x 69”)
1 – Redwood or cedar stud (2”x3”x6’)
48 – Galvanized or stainless low profile wafer head screws (#8 x 1-1/4”)

The total cost of materials should be less than $30.

Start cutting the composite cedar into 22” lengths, starting from the square end, not the dog ear end. Three cuts at 22” yields three boards, with 3” leftover – including the dog ears, which you can toss. The cuts don’t have to be exactly at 22”, but that’s a nice round number.  However, they do all have to be exactly the same length and 90 degrees for the potato rings to come out perfectly square and stackable.  The easiest way to do this is with a miter saw and a stop-block, but with care any kind of saw can be used.  This composite stuff cuts just like wood, doesn’t smell as nice though.  Avoid breathing the dust, just on general principles.

Cut all your boards and make sure they are all exactly the same length. From the four starting boards you should end up with twelve 22” boards, enough for 3 potato rings.

Because it’s what they had, I used a 2x3 (actual dimensions are 1-1/2”x2-1/2”) redwood stud, a 2x2 would be fine. Cedar would also be fine, the point is to use wood that resists rotting. Cut the red wood stud into lengths exactly equal to the width of the composite boards. The specs for the composite boards say they are 4-3/4 inches wide, but I measured 4-5/8 inches.  Anyway, the redwood blocks need to be exactly the same width as the composite boards, so don’t even measure. Instead use one of the composite boards as a straight edge to mark off the cuts on the red wood studs.  Again, using a stop block on a miter saw makes fast and exactly repeatable cuts. You’ll need 12 of these, 4 for each of 3 rings.  A 6 foot red wood stud should leave you with a little more than a foot of leftover. Cutting redwood does smell really nice - makes up for the composite stuff

Step 2: Assembly

First you’re going to screw wide face of two of the redwood blocks onto one of the composite boards. Line the cut edge of the composite board up with the narrow face of the redwood block with 1-1/2 inch extending over the board (see photo). I used an extra redwood block to measure the needed 1-1/2 inches of relief – again, easier than actually measuring. That 1-1/2 inch extension is what will allow the rings to stack and lock together.

Use your eyes and fingers to ensure everything is aligned and even. Clamp it tight, flip it over, and screw it in with two of your galvanized screws. Do the same at the other end of the composite board. Repeat until you have 6 boards, each with two blocks attached, and 1-1/2 inches extending over the edge.

Step 3: Assembly 2

Take two of your boards, with blocks attached, and screw on two of the remaining boards to the blocks. Again use your fingers and eyes to make sure they’re well aligned. Clamp and screw together to finish one ring.

See photos for outside and inside detail. Notice that I ran out of my wafer head screws, and had to start using #8 wood screws with a finishing washer – works just as well.

Repeat for the rest of your rings.

Step 4: Stack 'em Up!

If you've been careful with all your cuts and assembly, your rings should stack neatly like shown.

Step 5: Installation and Planting

The 1-1/2 inch extension on the first row just gets pushed into and buried in the garden soil. The rest of the rings get stacked on and filled with earth as the plants grow. A full tower of three rings is just about 14” tall. You can of course make and stack as many rings as you wish.

Here I have the first ring and a loop of soaker hose. Somewhere under all that nice earth and mulch are 5 purple seed potatoes.

How well does this really work? I have absolutely no idea. I’ve never even tried to grow potatoes before, much less in a tower of stackable rings. If it doesn't work, I suppose I could use the same rings as a compost bin or something. I’ll let you know.

If you enjoy this instructable, please let me know. Also consider voting for it in the instructable Gardening and Homesteading Contest here:

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