Did you know you could grow 100 pounds of potatoes in just four square feet? After reading this article, our friend Jon was intrigued and set out to build his own potato planter. As Jon read more about potato planting, he discovered you can’t just plant any old potato from the store. They are treated with a chemical that prevents them from growing eyes, which turn into more potatoes. So you have to order potato plants. We found several types of potatoes that grow better vertically in a box like the one we’re making, including: Fingerling, Pontiac, and Yellow Finns. Jon ordered two types of fingerlings: Purple Fiesta and Makah.
In Western Washington you can plant potatoes as early as April for two crops in a season, or you can plant them as late as August 1, for a November harvest. (You can read more about caring for your potato plants here.)
Step 1: Cut Boards for Potato Planter
Begin by cutting your boards to the correct length using your saw. You can cut by hand with a backsaw and a miter box, or you can use a circular saw. You’ll need to cut the cedar fence boards into 2' sections, making 16 total. Then cut the two-by-fours into 4' lengths, making 4 total.
Step 2: Make a Drill Guide
Have you ever been driving a screw into two sides of a piece of wood and had them hit one another? Here’s a handy little trick of the trade: Create a template(A) on a 3x5 note card. Mark where your holes will be on half of the 2’ pieces, then create a second template(B) and shift the holes so that you won’t drill the screws into each other. (You should have eight of each.) Use those templates as a guide to pre-drill your holes.
Step 3: Begin Potato Planter Assembly
When you've finished pre drilling both your A and B fence boards, it’s time to assemble your planter. Use your drill to secure both ends of an "A" piece to the bottom of two of your two-by-four pieces. Use 1 1/4" screws. Repeat step with the another "A" piece and the remaining two-by-four pieces.
Step 4: Connect Sides Together
Next, use two B pieces to connect the two sides you've already assembled. Secure with 1 1/4" screws.
Note that this photo shows the "A" pieces overlapping the "B", but following these directions yours should be overlapped the other way around. Both ways work, so don't stress over it.
Step 5: Add Layers to Potato Planter
You can add as many “layers” to your potato planter as you like. We held off on adding any more until we got the planter to its home.
Step 6: Plant Potatoes
Now, plant your potatoes. And wait.
Step 7: Disassemble Bottom of Potato Planter
When it's time to harvest your potatoes, begin by removing the bottom slat with your drill.
Step 8: Harvest Potatoes
Then start digging.