Cardboard box Henley Potato Towers

Now let’s see if I actually get a bunch of potatoes. I’ll be doing a video, “Henley Potato Tower Harvest” in a month or so.

There is power in being able to produce high yields of food with minimal inputs, and maximizing recycled inputs such as leaves and cardboard boxes and manure.

My vision is that food prices will go up enough that ordinary people transition from the Corn Syrup Cornucopia to a massively distributed system of food production, processing and distribution, unregulated, untaxed, and middlemen are minimized.

Political dissidents that are part of this uncontrolled underground economy will have their income assured (as long as they work).

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About mindweapon

A mind weapon riding along with Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.https://en.gravatar.com/profiles/edit/#
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24 Responses to Cardboard box Henley Potato Towers

  1. Jeff says:

    what kind of potato? And what about rain? cardboard boxes fall apart when they get wet/damp.

  2. Mr. Rational says:

    Would it be feasible to put metal mesh below the boxes (penetrable to roots) to keep out moles and other burrowing pests?

  3. Mr. Rational says:

    A problem I can see: if commerce falls off sharply, your supply of boxes is likely to collapse at the same time that everyone is going to want lots of them.

    It looks like boxes are something to stockpile (and keep protected from gnawing, nesting rodents).

    • mindweapon says:

      that’s true. in which case I’ll switch to car tires, like RobRoySimmons mentioned.

      If commerce falls off so much that I can’t get boxes that’ll be awesome! Immigrants will go home!

  4. RobRoySimmons says:

    I have heard of old car tires being used as well for potatoes. Grow a variety of spuds if you can and sweet potatoes as well if you have a long enough growing season.

  5. Ryu says:

    Looks good. I hope it works well.

  6. Craig says:

    Carcinogens leech from the break down of tyres as they age. You could use bails of hay and sticks(Wattle or willow) instead of boxes to make towers like this, they renew and feed your garden every year.

  7. Sam says:

    Silt fence (that black weaved material used at construction sites to hold back silt) makes good plant pots. It allows the plants roots to breath. Impressive growth rates. You do have to water a lot though.

    Next year I hoping to try some aquaculture. If you use old vinyl billboard signs for the pond liners you can cut out a lot of the cost. Aquaculture is probably the cheapest way to produce food. If you could put back produce from the year before it could be your fish feed for the next year.

  8. Sam says:

    Forgot something. If you line your boxes with a garbage can liner they’ll last longer. Then add a 1/2 inch hole about two inches from the bottom of the pot. The 2″ high hole allows extra water to flow out, air to come in and the lower part of the pot keeps in water for the plants roots. It was invented, or made popular by, a guy called “Hempy”. You can guess buy the name what he grows in it. That shouldn’t stop you though. Weed growers have some of the best gardening technology on the planet. You can hold the dirt in the 1/2″ hole with silt fence. Very cheap. The growth rate when the roots hit the reservoir is phenomenal. They say to use vermiculite and perlite but dirt works fine. Look up “Hempy Bucket Method”.

  9. Tom Bowie says:

    Mindweapon: I apologize for not responding sooner to your original request for information. I’m not all that good at instructions and the last time I had a proper garden to do my Rock-Gardening was 1976-1977 time frame. I had to gather up a few rocks to aid me in making sure I provided an accurate account.

    I also couldn’t find the original topic I posted in but in a way this is a better place for it. Perhaps you’ll add a “Gardening” category or somebody who’s smart will start to re-blog your gardening posts. There’s quite a bit of good information and inventiveness to be found in them, not only in your approach but the wonderful comments as well. (They have sparked questions and ideas that I may not have come up with otherwise.)

    Hopefully it’s all right to do it this way; I’ll be making several posts about gardening under this blog in order to help me stay organized.

    • mindweapon says:

      Absolutely! HOpe you have pictures! Using big rocks for a raised bed seems like a decent idea if you have enough of them and can build walls.

      • Tom Bowie says:

        Sadly I don’t have pictures or the modern skills to know what to do with them if I had them. I’m more of a Barbarian who knows stone knapping, wood working, weaving and, has part time access to a computer.
        I wish I knew somebody in the LaPlata, Maryland area who could post a few pictures of my current garden. Not having space for a real garden; I’ve been rather adaptive in my approach.
        I got an idea last summer and went into experimental mode this year with some rather good results. (I’ll post on this also when I get the chance.)

  10. Tom Bowie says:

    Original Rock Garden

    As I understand it from my grandfather, the concept was discovered by accident. A pair of lazy youngsters who wanted to avoid starting another row of beans, tossed a handful of seeds into a pile of rocks at the edge of a garden that had been removed from the garden when the ground was tilled. (So the tale is told.)

    The rocks were mostly rounded to allow condensation (Condensation caused by temperature differential) and rain to run down them unobstructed. Having one flat side however was helpful as the odd shaped side could be worked into the ground a bit or pointed upward on the second layer. We used what we could find and a good sized rock could be chipped around and broken to make excellent fit for stacking.

    We prepared the area to be planted normally by adding mulch/compost and working it into the soil. Then we set the pole teepees up (putting the poles in the ground a slight bit for stability) and stacked a double layer of rocks around the pole with a hole/space enough for the vines to grow up the poles and, an area on the bottom layer with room to plant seeds. (You’re insuring you have a good sturdy fit of the rocks.) With the top layer of rocks off; plant and water the seeds as normal.

    As a kid it was one of my chores early in the season was to take the top layer of rocks off in the morning as it warmed up a bit so the seeds/seedlings could get sunlight and the bottom layer of rocks could heat up better and, restack them correctly in the evening. Part of the purpose of the rocks is to get a bit earlier growth spurt and the unstacking + restacking helps this along even more. (I do think between this and stacking wood as a kid, helped me develop very good spacial skills.) If you don’t have time, the top layer can be left off until the seedlings get big enough. (The unstacking + restacking will also help get a early start in planting if the days are fairly warm or the sun bright. I’ve also learned that if there’s a possibility of an unexpected extra cold night, a bit of plastic wrap put around the rocks can help save the seedlings from damage provided it’s not too much of a cold snap.)

    We generally only did this for some of our crop so that we could get a bit of fresh produce earlier than normal. That is the main benefit as the rocks warm the seedlings on those early cool nights.

    After the seedlings got big enough we added mulch around them and when they were a bit bigger yet, the top layer of stones no longer needed any unstacking + restacking.

    Some spiders would take up residence in a few rock stacks helping a bit with the crop eating insects but, snakes would also crawl in for the warmth on cool nights; so be careful.

    It’s also important to note that we used rocks because they were available just as the woods offered unlimited mulch by way of and pine needles. I think/believe Bricks or even any suitable synthetic material can be used just as modern mulch can. The flat Bricks or other material, would have to be slanted a bit so that the rain would run inward toward the seedlings.
    In some climates the rocks are removed as the summer wears on or, the top layer is exchanged from darker/black to lighter/white rocks simply to provide shade/preserve moisture. The technique is changeable and adaptable by need as well as season/climate of the area as well as being somewhat dependent on those factors. The average gardener will learn what works best for their area in the first year or so once they know the basics.

    Tomato Plants

    As for your question of a Rock-Garden working on Tomatoes; I don’t know for sure. We only used vines because the rocks got very hot from the sun and the vines were trained up a pole and avoided direct contact with rocks themselves.

    I do a little trick with some of the Tomato Plants however that does make them produce more. Like many people I start them off in a container inside and then transplant them to the garden as weather permits. When they get taller and generally before they start getting tomatoes, I dig them up, strip off the lower leaves and plant them about 10-12 inches deeper. As most people know, Tomato Plants can grow roots out of the stem when covered by soil and this gives them one heck of a root system.

    The reason I don’t do this to all my Tomato Plants is because it delays getting tomatoes by about 2 weeks or more depending on soil, water, and weather conditions. (Last week I counted the tomatoes on 7 of the plants that I did this too and there were a bit over 50 green tomatoes (most over half the size of a fist) on them.)

  11. Tom Bowie says:

    Mindweapon’s cardboard box potato garden combined with Craig’s comment about tires sparked a question.

    Are Flower Pots made from Food Grade Plastic? (Many people use large flower pots or planters to grow eatable plants, from spices to tomatoes.)

    While common sense would say they should be, companies often quest for a few extra cents say they may not be. After a bit of research I found that the vast majority were not only not food grade, they were about the same as a bucket used to hold spackling or hydraulic oil. Most flower pots don’t claim to be food grade and they’re not required to be. The majority of those that claim to be food safe are made from biodegradable natural products and are more expensive. (In other words they last a few years but in effect they’re costly, fancy versions of cardboard boxes.)

    For some years I’ve used several large flower pots for growing food myself. (Including this year) If I had the choice in possibly going hungry or growing things in containers that could contaminate the food, I’d grow the food but; I’ll try to avoid using them when I can.

    To some extent reusing containers that food came in is a possibility. I’ve used Meat Lugs/Totes and if you know somebody who works in a bakery (or chain-store with a bakery), the bakery gets shipments of toppings and things in buckets; generally about 3 gallon size.

    I’ve also used plastic food grade barrel bottoms as well. This year I also used some of the upper parts that I cut off by digging them in the ground a bit and filling them with soil. Watching your videos it occurred to me that I could dig in two rows of barrel circles back to back and at the space where the barrel rings come together, stack a barrel bottom on top. It’d be well supported, save space and be reusable from year to year as well as being food safe.

    There are various sized barrels and by having several different sizes for different plants; they can be stored inside each other when not in use. (You can also cut sections out of a barrel circle and reattach them with a section of the plastic removed acting as a scab or, expand one of the circles in much the same way.)

    I’ve been using Plastic Barrels as well for several years to catch rain water (Rain Barrels are more expensive and, generally not food grade.). The area I live in often has hot dry spells and I’ve found the Town’s water is not good for my garden if used too much. I put a screen over the top and use a loop of Bungee Cord Material to keep it on and keep out leaves and mosquitos.

    Most people that use Rain Barrels place a barrel under each downspout but you can fill more than one barrel from a good downspout. Attach a fitting to each barrel and attach a hose from one barrel to the next barrel. Rather than garden hose, something larger so that it can keep up with the amount of water from a good heavy rain.

    A normal hose with valve fitting can be added at the bottom is you’re going to pump the water out or if the collection area is higher than the garden. If you are going to be dipping out the water by hand, the fittings can be put high up on the barrel. If however you are going to pump water out or use a gravity feed and want all the barrels to drain without having to switch the hose for each barrel; place the connecting fittings lower down on the barrels so that they operate as a unit when emptying. If you’re going to pump out the water, you could use an IBC tote (Link to barrels later has a description and pictures of IBC totes.) adapted into a rain collector rather than a series of barrels.

    You can even make something like this: http://www.addoway.com/viewad/Antique-purge-bilge-boat-pump-tool-nautical-1313952 out of more modern materials to pump the water from the top of a barrel. (The worlds simplest pump.)

    Barrel prices vary greatly from place to place. You may occasionally find a person selling used scrap barrels from where they work for $10.00 or less to stores that sell barrels for over $100.00; so it pays to shop around a bit. If the barrels have to be shipped to you, the shipping costs are quite a bit more than the barrels themselves. Barrels range in size from 15 gallons to 110 gallons at the extremes and the following link will show a good selection of what’s more commonly available.

    http://www.lexingtoncontainercompany.com/Poly-Drums.html

  12. Tom Bowie says:

    My Garden Experiment

    Most of my small back yard is enclosed by a chain link fence I built for a pair of dogs I kind of inherited. It’s a rather sturdy fence and along the base is fill dirt/subsoil to prevent the dogs from digging out and even the weeds have not managed to gain much of a foothold.

    This year I’m trying an experiment; using 4 inch plastic pipe (Water pipe is preferred as some other types can leech out harmful chemicals over long amounts of time.) cut 12 inches long as a kind of bottomless flower pot planted along the outside of the fence. I filled the pipes with a soil mix after I got them dug in.

    My crop is Pole Beans and Cucumbers; Pole beans need to climb and Cucumbers produce better when they climb.

    The amount of plants in the pipes was also varied and I learned quite a few things that I’d not even anticipated when I started the project. The project was over all successful and turned the fence line into a garden. The plants are 95%+ dependent on watering but due to the dry spells we have in this area during the summer and my property, they’d be over 70%+ dependent on watering anyway. The size of the pipes combined with the leaves acting as umbrellas prevent almost all rain from getting to the plant roots but, the enclosed pipes help conserve water as well as not wasting any on weeds/grass.

    I’ve kept charts and notes on the progress that I’ll attempt to condense into the important highlights. An unexpected thing I learned makes anything more than a rough estimate difficult and the estimates are based with this in mind.

    Pole Beans

    A) The fence is just a bit over 3 1/2 feet high and normally they are allowed 6+ feet long poles to grow on. The height of the fence was more than made up by it having extra width and it didn’t reduce productivity and, it appears to have increased it for single plants. (Note: Pole Beans produce less beans than Bush Beans but they are productive for longer with an overall greater yield per plant, per year.)

    B) Normally about 3 pole bean plants are grown up the poles and I wanted to see how well the pipes did in this regard. I planted 1 to 5 pole beans in the pipes with the following observations. The pipes with 1 plant seemed to have about 10% increased productivity over traditional growth methods. The pipes with 2 plants had a combined production of about 15% to 20% more than the pipes with a single plant. The pipes with 3 plants had a combined production of about 20% less than the pipes with a single plant. In the pipes with 4 or 5 plants in them only 3 plants survived and they performed thereafter like the pipes with 3 plants.

    C) The area I planted in has trees that block direct sunlight at some times during the day on each end and entirely towards the center. The fence line starts at the house and travels in a squared off C shape ending at the corner of the house. = The plants that get evening sun are doing great but those plants that get the morning sun are doing horrible. The plants getting the morning sun, have spindly underdeveloped vines, producing fewer beans, and quite a few beans that only have one or two been seeds that develop inside the pods. The plants that never get direct sunlight are not producing quite as well as those getting the evening light but they’re doing much better than those getting morning sun. Walking along the fence line starting at the end getting the evening sun you can observe a very slow reduction in plant development as you walk by the parts that get less direct light but you observe a rapid decline in plant development as the plants get more of the morning sun. (I’ve attempted to find anything other than the time of day of the sun that could be a factor. The only difference I’ve been able to find is that there are far more bugs invading the healthier plants getting the evening sun but it’s normal for healthier plants to attract more bugs.)

    Cucumbers

    A) Cucumbers that are grown where they can climb generally produce about 15% more cucumbers and have less spoilage due to rot/insect activity. The single plants in pipes are producing about what a normal cucumber plant on the ground will, while taking us much less space.

    B) Normally there are about 3 cucumber plants per hill and I wanted to see how well the pipes did in this regard. I planted 1 to 3 cucumber plants in the pipes with the following observations. The single plants did about as well as a plant in a traditional hill would but it didn’t get the increased productivity by being allowed to climb however it did gain the benefit of loss due to rot/insects. The pipes with 2 plants produced about 20% more than the pipes with a single plant. The pipes with 3 plants produced about 70% less than the pipes with a single plant; as such I’ve thinned them back to 2 plants and productivity is increasing.

    C) The Cucumber plants getting evening sunlight are doing wonderful and those getting morning light are not doing quite as well (but not bad) but it’s the plants that are in the shaded areas that are doing rather poorly. That’s normal and expected for most crops.

    Conclusion

    I’m currently getting about 3/8+ of a bushel of pole beans and the same amount of cucumbers per week and it’s likely I can double that output next year by applying what I learned this year. I suspect I’ll need to change the soil each year in order to blend in new mulch/compost.

    Notes: The top of the soil should be about 3 inches lower than the top of the pipe to allow space for a thin layer of mulch and room for watering. The soil being lower than the top of the pipe, seeds will be somewhat slow start and grow at first in shaded areas but they catch up in a few weeks. I start out watering with a sprinkler can for seeds until the seedlings get tall enough to add mulch; the mulch buffers the force of the water and allows a straight spout watering to avoid spillage. If you’re watering the larger plants properly it will appear at first as if you’re overwatering but; in a normal garden 1+ inch per week is required and as the plant takes in water the moisture in the soil equalizes providing a continuous supply; in the limited space of the pipe, what looks like overwatering is in fact using less water than a normal garden would. I occasionally have to clip the leaves off near the bottom for ease of watering but most plants tend to grow extra leaves because of deer/rabbits/other. The pipes have greatly reduced the amount of crawling insects and completely stopped cut-worms. One other advantage of planting like this is that if needed, the area can be cut with a weed-eater if it’s part of a lawn.

    Only after I started this response did it occurred to me to do a bit of research and see if anybody else had tried it. While I didn’t find anything like what I was doing, I did find other ideas along that line however. The following link is one of the more interesting items I saw.

    http://www.pvcplans.com/pipe-garden.htm

    With 3 pipes on each side and plants growing on the ground; that’s 7 rows in the space of about 1 row. From my experience, if you were watering by hand without the drip irrigation used in the link, you’d need a much larger pipe so the soil could hold more moisture and likely an extra pair of posts to support the additional weight.

    I also found another version of the idea in the following links.

    http://www.attainable-sustainable.net/17-plants-small-space/

    http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Build-Your-Own-Strawberry-Tower/

    Not fully sure how I’d adapt these other than a barrel sized one with much fewer spaces for plants. I would rather avoid electrical and/or mechanical devices like water pumps.

    and

    The most interesting part starts at 22:39 but some of the other is worth watching as well but he often sometimes rambles on a bit.

    Also

    A quote from near the end of the video; “Growing food yourself is a dangerous act because you’re in danger of becoming free.”

    Hopefully I’m not posting links/stuff people have seen before but if I hadn’t of started this post I’d have never found it and, if you hadn’t made this Blog I’d never of started this reply.

    Thank You very much!

  13. ZOG-SHEISE says:

    ONE BEAUTIFUL WORD: AQUAPONICS

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