The fun of trash can potatoes!
Experience the fun of trash can gardening with Janice Stillman, Editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Potatoes can take up too much room in small gardens, so planting in a large container is a great way to go! See steps to growing potatoes in a trash can.
If you’d like to grow potatoes but don’t want to devote an entire garden bed to them, try growing in containers! Trash cans are deep enough containers for potatoes so they’re the perfect solution.
When to Plant Potatoes
Tradition holds that potatoes should be planted near St. Patrick’s Day for a successful harvest.There’s some truth to the old wives’ tale about planting potatoes on St. Patrick’s. It’s not necessarily about the exact date of March 17, but in the fact that planting in March will result in higher yields.
How to Plant Potatoes in a Trash Can
- Order or buy “seed potatoes” which are not seeds but tiny potatoes. For beginners, we recommend starting out by growing the smaller new potatoes. The mid or late-season varieties are better choices than early-season types.
- Drill holes in the bottom of the trash can for drainage.
- Set your trash can in a place that gets 4 to 6 hours of sunlight every day.
- Fill the can with half compost and half “soilless” potting mix to the trash can. Do NOT use real soil in container growing. If you want to cut back on how much soil you add, you could put recycled water jugs in the bottom. Just make sure you have at least 2 to 3 feet of soil with a 10 to 15 gallon capacity.
- About 24 hours in advance, prepare the seed potatoes. This is called “chitting.” Plant small potatoes can be planted whole, but larger ones should be cut into smaller pieces with at least 3 “eyes” (or dimples) per piece. Then allow the cut edges to air dry before planting.
- Bury the seed potatoes about 4 inches under the potting mix/compost about a foot apart. We plant four seed potatoes in each 32-gallon trash can.
- Water the plants and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- As the plants grow, you have to keep their stems covered, and have extra potting mix to cover or “mound” over the stems so they are not exposed to sunlight. (Leave leaves exposed!)
- When the potatoes are ready to harvest, you dig into the trash can and pull out a sample. Then you can simply turn over the can onto a tarp and harvest your goodies!
To learn how to plant and grow potatoes, see our free Potato Guide.