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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Garbage Can Potatoes

There is no question that potatoes are the most perfect food. In fact, if I was forced to pick one food I'd eat every day for the rest of my life, it'd be potatoes (spaghetti is a very close second).

Since I started gardening last year I've wanted to try growing potatoes but I'm rather grossed out by the fact that they grow under ground with all the worms and lord knows what slithering around them. I realize that's not rational - I'm just being honest.

So, when Mark over at Garden Desk posted about growing potatoes in a garbage can I nearly shouted out loud - EUREKA!

The concept is very simple and clean (for dirt, I mean). You take a cheap plastic trash can...


Drill holes in the bottom and around the bottom sides for drainage...


Put some dirt in the bottom...


Throw some potatoes on the dirt and cover them up with more dirt. Keep in full sun and water when you water your other stuff.


When the plant grows to about a foot tall, you add about 6 more inches of dirt around the stem. Repeat this until the plant turns brown. In theory, the potatoes will grow all along the stem of the plant the entire length of the trash can, safe from whatever it is that lives and squirms in the dirt.

As you can see I forgot to take the very important photo that shows the potatoes laying on the dirt. But, picture this; 3 red potatoes cut into pieces making sure to leave 3 eyes per piece. The other can is about the same only I used sweet potatoes.

Lessons learned already:

  1. Buy the seed potatoes way earlier so that you are not forced to just go to the grocery store asking for rotten potatoes. That was down right embarrassing, and unproductive.
  2. Potatoes are frequently treated with chemicals to prevent them from sprouting. (I learned this after planting, tisk tisk) Buy seed potatoes, not regular ole potatoes.

There is no growth so far and I'm really not that hopeful given my late start and potentially chemically treated potatoes. But if by some wild chance it works, I'll be able to dump the trash can out onto a tarp and there will be a big pile of delicious potatoes.

If you could only pick one food to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?


  1. So the ones you ended up planting are from the grocery store? Yeah, i dunno if those will grow... everything I've read tells me no... but hey, who knowjs.... how long ago did you plant? It took my seed potatos about... two to three weeks to appear on top of the dirt. I wish i was growing mine in garbage cans.. I'm worried about the mechanics iof piling all that dirt in my riased beds

  2. A great follow up post and how to! We had great luck with organic potatoes that had sprouted because they didn't seem to be treated with anything. Just opened our kitchen drawer one day and Whoa! Potatoes growin' in there.

  3. One food for the rest of my life? That is a hard one. Can't pick!

  4. I'm with you, Gina: Potatoes for the balance of my existence. Totally fantastic food.

  5. I hate to mention this, really I do, but sweet potatoes are grown from slips, or little sprouts off the potatoe that have been rooted in water. They don't grow like sweet potatoes, they have quite pretty vines.

  6. Oh! But I absolutely love the trash can thing! Very cool idea!

  7. j-dog - yes they were store bought because I couldnt find any seed ones.

    katie - i did buy organic ones so maybe i'll be ok. Thanks for the positive feedback!

    layanne - it's hard, right?

    soilman is a wiseman

    christine - CRAP!!!

  8. Marion in SavannahJune 21, 2008 at 6:10 PM

    There's a whole thread on the RecipeZaar gardening forum about potato barrels... I may try growing some next year, if I can figure out how to keep them from being baked before they're harvested down here in the HOT south...

    Once you get there, look for a thread called "potato barrel follow along."

    I hope the link works for you. (And if you're not aware of RecipeZaar it's a fabulous place...)

  9. Hi - I just wanted to let you know that I used store potatoes in my first garbage-can-potato attempt and I have 3 sprouts that are doing quite there is hope! Good luck!

  10. What a great idea. I'm going to try this tomorrow, if I can find some seed potatoes.

    But I see that anonymous was successful with store bought potatoes so maybe I'll try those if unsuccessful. Also, I went to as suggested by marion in savannah and found a lot of good info there.

    Thanks for sharing.