Growing Potatoes in a Trash Can

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View this video of a great gardening container for growing potatoes—and experience the fun of trash can gardening with Janice Stillman, Editor of The Old Farmer's Almanac.

For more potato planting and growing advice, see our free Potato Guide.

 

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You need to progress grow.

By John F. Tucker on March 20

You need to progress grow. PLANT VEGGIES IN WEEKS.

kNOW THE DIFFERENCE

Can you plant a second bucket

By kuhio

Can you plant a second bucket of potatoes, I have just harvested mine in late July, there seems to be plenty of mild sunny weather left here in the Pacific Northwest and was wondering if a second planting would be viable?

It's later now then when you

By Almanac Staff

It's later now then when you wrote (it's Aug 8); sorry for the delay in responding. The thought then and now is try it. The Pacific Northwest is a huge area and your exact location is not known, but if you typically have a long summer, you might just get a few more spuds—even small ones. The only thing that you should do is change the soil. This is a form of crop rotation, when growing in containers. Use a similar mix to what brought you success. Good luck!

I have just recently learned

By Julie Hammontree

I have just recently learned about this method of growing potatoes. I have watched several videos. Some say the barrel needs to be in a greenhouse; some say outdoors. Is the greenhouse necessary just for winter months - making all year growing possible? My MAIN question is this, however: It's June. Can I start a barrel now? I'm inspired and fired up. Thanks for your response.

Hi, Julie! Great to hear your

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Julie! Great to hear your enthusiasm. You don't say where you are, so we can't be certain of your season. But get it going—even a harvest small, "new" potatoes (any picked small) would be a delicious treat. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
As for being indoors or a greenhouse...we aren't familiar with that method. (We shot our video in a studio, which is why it appears indoors.)

I have heard about trash can

By Raj Beekie

I have heard about trash can potatoes, tower potatoes, barrel potatoes, box potatoes, etc. I have seen many people try these methods, but I have NEVER seen a great harvest. It all seems great in theory, but reality is very different. I would love to see a video of someone actually harvesting many potatoes from a trash can method. Thanks

Some of the tubers that are

By Matt Cole

Some of the tubers that are growing up are shorter than the ones that have reached the required height to add the next level of soil. Will it harm the plant if I completely bury some of the shorter tubers since they have leaves on them?

If you bury the plants that

By Almanac Staff

If you bury the plants that have leaves you might lose them (that is, they might not thrive). Are they so close in the container that you can't find a happy medium; that is, pile soil on some but not others??
Without knowing more, we can only suggest that potatoes usually need a good amount of space betw plants (some sources say 36 inches); growing in a trash can lead to more crowding than usual. If that's what you face, do what you can to keep the hardiest of the lot thriving and consider this experience if you try it again.

Good in theory but bad in

By Jimena

Good in theory but bad in practice. Plastic is toxic and growing anything in plastic is going to leech the petrol chemicals into your food. Especially using a black container that heats up more.

I've seen a similar technique but with chicken wire tied in a circle, you do the soil thing at the bottom and as it grows you put hay on top instead of soil.

I agree with the comment

By Debra Withers on April 11

I agree with the comment about the chemicals of the plastic can leaching into the potatoes. Now more than ever, it seems everything is coming from China and they are known to put harmful chemicals into things that are used even for consumption. I can only imagine what they would use to produce a garbage can. Horrible idea!

I live in a midwest climate

By KarenE

I live in a midwest climate and will be planting potatoes for the first time this year. I want to know if staggering 2 or 3 containers of potato plants--planting in one can the first week, 2nd can the 2nd week, etc., would be a good idea or do they all need to be planted at the same time. Potatoes don't last long in my house, but they don't keep very well for a long time.

What are the ratios for the

By vhata

What are the ratios for the sand, soil, and compost?

We've never actually used a

By Almanac Staff

We've never actually used a soil recipe. You want a lot of compost; good compost is almost all you need—and lime, to achieve the proper pH (4.8–6.5)! If you have heavy, earthy soil you want to add sand to help the rain and applied water filter through; otherwise, you risk having mud and nothing can grow in mud.
You want loose, rich soil. So a lot of nutrient-rich compost, some soil to bind it together a little. And some sand to keep it loose. The proportions depend on how much soil you're mixing but figure...oh, say 10 percent sand and a rough split of the soil and compost. There is no exact formula. Thanks for your question and good luck!

For those of us who don't

By linh

For those of us who don't have much space in our gardens and can't or don't like to dig giant holes looking for our food, planting potatoes in a container is a workable option.

I grow my potatoes in 3ft

By JBird2

I grow my potatoes in 3ft square frames made of 2x4's. As the potatoes grow, I just stack on another frame and add more soil or compost mix. When it's time to harvest, the frames easily come apart and can be reused again next season.

Although this idea SOUNDS

By Brenda Berry

Although this idea SOUNDS good, I do NOT recommend growing things in non food grade plastics-the hot sun causes plastics to leach into the soil and the veggies. I grow mine in food grade 5 gallon buckets that I get free from the bakery in my local grocery. Plastics contain LOADS of toxic chemicals-not something you want to be growing your veggie in!!

How long does it take till I

By Diana Gricus

How long does it take till I can harvest my potatoes? If I leave them in the ground to long will they be rot? Also, what is the best fertilizer for the potato family?

Hi Diana, the potatoes should

By Almanac Staff

Hi Diana, the potatoes should be ready to harvest after about 10 weeks. Be sure to harvest them all once the vines die, or yes, they will rot in the soil. See more growing tips on our potato page! http://www.almanac.com/plant/potatoes

We leave our pot. in the

By Bob Mckee

We leave our pot. in the ground till we want to dig a few at a
time up.We have even missed a few and got them the next year.

When you add the soil as the

By pineymom2

When you add the soil as the plant grows do you cover the leaves or just add the soil around them?

Thanks, all of you, for your

By stiljanice

Thanks, all of you, for your enthusiasm. I think the outstanding questions are these:
Mary, it depends on what you mean/perceive as "entire container full." Assuming everything else goes well—your soil is good, the plants get enough water and sun—you could get a couple or a few dozen potatoes or more. So will the container be "filled"? There will still be lots of dirt in there, too.
Diana, your question is, how often do you water? At least once a week, depending on other conditions, such as rain. You don't want to drown the plants but you also don't want them to shrivel. Keep us posted as things progress—and GOOD LUCK!

My wife Ellen and I loved the

By James Shaw

My wife Ellen and I loved the video,so enthusiastic and upbeat.We found it very informative and helpful.

Oh... the eyes go...down? No

By Azar Attura

Oh... the eyes go...down? No wonder.....

This is GREAT!! I DO grow trash bucket plants on my balcony -- in 11 gallon Rubbermaids -- holes on the bottom, clean (from store, in 50 pound bags) rocks (actually mine are cheap marble pieces) and NON-treated charcoal briquets on the bottom, a good soil mix and... I have fringe trees, paw paws, blueberries, serviceberries, gingkoes (from seed!) maples (ditto!) and some comestibles all on my (large) balcony --

What purpose were the

By paco12348

What purpose were the briquets on the bottom underneat the marble pieces. Just for extra drainage?

The video shows that you

By Paula Conn 2

The video shows that you should plan these with the cut side down, and the eyes should be up!

When planting my potatoes; I

By Paula Hutchings

When planting my potatoes; I wished I had made notes. I did forget which end goes up or down... after reading other gardening forums- I planted my potatoes in cheap laundry baskets (eliminating the need to punch holes).

I do find a large laundry basket with a smaller frame (did find one at the local dollar store); better as far as soil not seeping through.

Unfortunately, due to poor soil conditions and inability to continue adding soil as the plants grow - I am worried.

I do have some healthy looking potato plants coming out of my baskets.
(Hooray!).
But if your cheap laundry basket is small; then I guess once it is filled, will need to wait for the fruits of labor. :)

I am small family of 3 right now: whatever I get out of my garden, I am happy with.
New Gardener.

Should the drainage holes be

By Marybc

Should the drainage holes be just at the bottom or all the way around and up the sides of the can?

Hi Mary, You can drill a

By Almanac Staff

Hi Mary, You can drill a couple holes in the sides as well but stick to the bottom six inches or so of the barrel. Whatever you do, don't skip making the holes--drainage is necessary so your potatoes won't rot!

Do you plant more potatoes

By Susan Okray

Do you plant more potatoes every 7 inches when you add the next soil?

No, the original plants will

By Tina Beshears

No, the original plants will continue to grow taller and produce potatoes all the way down their root systems. One good sized seed potato quartered will be all you need to grow a whole trash can full of potatoes.

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