Potato Bins

| 6/17/2014 11:30:00 AM

Acorn and ThistleLast year, I saw an ad for some gorgeous, modular wooden potato-growing bins. I don’t remember where I saw it, or who made them – but I do remember that they were nearly $100 each. You could have knocked me over with a feather. A hundred bucks? For wood boxes?? That I was going to fill with dirt???

No, thanks. I mean, I love the idea, but I know how much wood actually costs. I also know how to use a saw and a screwdriver (or a pneumatic brad nailer, in this case) so there was no possible way I could justify spending that kind of money for those bins, regardless of how nice they looked.

The concept had me curious, though: Instead of hilling up row after row of potatoes, the bins would supposedly yield more potatoes in less space. I certainly can’t argue with efficiency, so I set out to give it a try. (Not that I have rows of potatoes,per se – it’s more of a random assembly of clumps. But still ...)

early June 2013

I sourced the wood online – turns out there’s a cedar fence company nearby that sells its “B” grade wood at a much lower price than the local lumber yard. It was still really nice wood, just not “fence worthy” – having some knots and small imperfections – but otherwise perfect for my application.  I chose cedar because of its rot and insect resistance, and the fence board dimensions (1-inch-by-6-inch-by-8-foot) were the perfect sizes: tall enough to be worthwhile, and not too heavy for me to stack and unstack.

I built about 20 of the (roughly) 2-foot-square boxes, and stacked them nicely near where I’d planned to put the potatoes; just on the other side of the garden fence, under some trees. It’s a nice spot, with mostly full sun, but the soil tends to be on the dry side. In hindsight, this was an oversight that cost me a good potato harvest last year.