Yesterday was devoted to putting down red mulch and building potato towers. I first read about potato towers in Sunset Magazine (waiting for the dentist!), then saw them on the Bennington Garden Blog. Now they seem to be all the rage. The idea is to put in a bunch of potato pieces and keep adding layers of straw, soil, and compost as the potatoes grow. They grow up instead of sideways, giving a tower of harvestable potatoes.
Everyone likes to try something new, including me. They seem like an appealing, space-saving idea. I like the thought of just reaching in for new potatoes as the rest keep growing. I went to Urban Ore my favorite shopping spot for the garden, and picked up an old wicker hamper for one. I made another one out of a remnant of chicken wire and a bamboo shade. It took most of the morning, and I remembered the best home improvement advice I ever read. “Never think anything is going to take 15 minutes; it takes 15 minutes to find the screwdriver.” Or in my case, to assemble wire cutters, pliers, scissors and glasses.
The red mulch (according to its label) is “a recent innovation to maximize the effect of reflected light on plant growth…red has been found to enhance the growth and yield of several vegetable crops, including tomatoes.” I decided to give it a try, especially as the foggy east bay is not the best tomato-growing environment in the world.
First I weeded, then top dressed the plants with compost, then put on the mulch. I had to cut and paste a bit to fit my odd rows, but it went pretty well. We’ll see. I think I’ll put it on the eggplants and cucumbers, too.