Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Potatoes in a Garbage Can?

I really enjoy trying new things in the garden. It makes my friends and neighbors consider my vegetable garden as "weird". For me though, the weirder the better. People think its odd that I grow white and black tomatoes, that I use strange methods for supporting those tomatoes, that I don't garden in rows and that I grow many things up tall trellises.

My new "weird" thing in the garden is growing potatoes in a garbage can!

This is not my original idea, but it is a great one. You drill a bunch of holes in the bottom of the can, fill it with a foot of good compost and soil and then plant the seed potatoes. You probably should only put four potatoes or cured potato pieces in the can but I over did it a bit.

Then you cover the potatoes, water well and watch 'em grow. When the tops get about a foot tall you add about six more inches of good soil to the can, burying the lower portions of the stems. Keep that up all summer and eventually the can will be filled to the top with soil and compost and the plants will be growing out of the top of the can.

More tubers will form all along the stems that you buried so at harvest time you will have a whole can full of potatoes! This is my first year trying this, but I know it will work. I have seen other gardeners do it successfully and I have applied this principle on a smaller scale before. For the past few years I have grown potatoes in a small raised bed and added extra wood sides and more compost as they grow. My 10-year old daughter even did this last year in her garden. If you don't want to have an ugly trash can in your garden and you, unlike me, don't want to be called "weird", you could at least try my daughter's wood box around the potatoes idea. You could probably even add it to some of your existing potato plants.

As for me, these aren't the only potatoes I'm growing but I am looking forward to playing with my ugly blue potato can at the end of the garden. I planted them a few days ago and now they have sprouted!

Weird gardening is fun.



Confession: I have dishwasher racks in my garden for the peas to climb up. We use the old tub from the same dishwasher as leaf container in the fall.

I like the garbage can idea. Currently I'm trying out 5 gallon buckets lined up against the south side of the garage. Talked about it at my blog www.lostsurprise.blogspot.com.


Marc: You're not the only one. I planted two garbage cans about a week ago. No sprouts yet, but I'm excited about the extra space in the garden. I must say, though, I went for dark green instead of baby blue! ;-)



This is a great idea! Now I wish I hadn't planted my potatoes over the weekend---I could have done them in a can and saved some space! Oh well--next year :-)


Great idea. I bet this is how Macgyver grows his potatoes.


marc - this is an awesome idea! do you think it's too late for me to start these now in my zone 5?


It's great to see that there is innovation left in this world!

Great idea. The plastic bin will help protect your potatoes from the elements (especially frost if it's that time of year).

The other benefit of growing spuds in a vertical manner is that they will be nice and clean from growing in compost and loose material.

Terra Hangen

I love this creativity, planting potatoes in a garbage can. Good for you. I like to read about clever gardening ideas. I too enjoy planting odd and rare plants. I recently blogged about my gorogeous Cantua plants, which are new to many people.


Potatoes in a garbage?? HEY- that is not so strange. Out here in the wild wild west - theme container gardening is a hot item! I currently have tomato plants growing in old cowyboyboots with a small bamboo pole for vertical strength. It is trendy!! Containers are only as limited as your mind! Keep it high class!


I am growing my potatoes in the extra wire cages that I made for my tomatoes. I love the idea of knocking it over this fall to harvest, instead of digging!


I had picked up some cattle panels that had been cut in half length ways. I wired them into hoops and put straw around the inside then filled them with compost. When the spuds are done I just pull up the hoops and move them to another area of our garden that I want to amend or fill a low spot. It works great.


Wow, these are great comments. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one using "weird" methods in the garden - dishwasher racks, more garbage cans, wire bins, interesting things as containers, cattle panels - your gardens are great! And yes, Gina, I think you still have time to plant some spuds creatively - that is your weekend assignment :)

Thanks everyone.


This is brilliant! I tend to look at hydroponics solutions first and foremost but I just can't imagine how that could even get close to these results!

That settles it, I'm going to have to find a place in my Encyclopedia for your blog!

(follow the link from my profile if you're interested)


Hey if it works. Thats all that matters.


Cool! I want very much to grow potatoes and think a trashcan may be the way to go. But here's my question....

Once that trashcan has been topped off with soil, when should the potatoes be harvested? I know there are a million variables and so no definite answer, but I just picture myself dumping out the trashcan to nothing but itsy bitsy tater tots or big, flavorless tubers. Do you just nose around in the soil to see if the higher tomatoes are at a usable size yet, or are there guidelines?


This might be a silly question, but couldn't you just take some kind of screen to cover the top to keep out the bugs?

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