Whether you live in the city with limited space or in the country battling groundhogs and other creatures, there is something very attractive and convenient about container gardening. Once reserved for herbs, ornamental chili peppers and cherry tomatoes, gardeners are becoming very resourceful, finding new ways to plant almost anything in containers. Being a newbie to the gardening community, I can’t get over all the creative ideas I’ve stumbled across – but this one takes the cake. Ready? Potatoes…in a garbage can. Naturally, when I saw this idea, I had to try it and so got to work on my garbage can crop.
1 standard outdoor rubber garbage can, about 30″ tall
Seed potatoes – They are available at your local garden store, must be certified disease-free and are specifically needed for planting. (I purchased a 1.5kg bag for about $7 and ended up giving two thirds of them away. You’ll need 500-600g at the most.)
Three-in-one soil – suited to vegetable gardening
Medium-sized rocks – enough to fill a few inches in the base of the can
Prior to planting, the potatoes need to be quartered. The eyes of the potatoes are the seeds, so ensure you cut in a way that lets every portion have adequate seeds. Arrange your potatoes skin side down on a tray and let dry for 24 hours. This drying process prevents rotting.
To prepare your garbage can for the big plant, flip it upside down and drill several holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Potatoes have a tendency to rot, so leave sufficient room for water that wants to escape to do so. Once the holes are drilled, prop the trash can up outside on something that will elevate it a few inches from the ground – I propped mine up on some bricks. Fill the bottom of your garbage can with 2 to 3 inches of medium-sized rock, then the same amount of soil.
Lay your potatoes cut side down into the soil, leaving about 3 inches between potatoes. Cover with another 2 to three inches of soil.
Next steps: Over the next few months, keep watering your potatoes, keeping the soil moist but not wet. Vines will begin to creep through the soil. When the vines grow to between 4 and six inches in length, reapply with enough soil to cover half the length of the vine. Repeat this process until the plants begin to flower. The plants flowering indicates the point in which you stop watering your potatoes. Let them remain in the garbage can for a few more weeks and then fingers crossed…we’ll have potatoes!
Originally published May 12th, 2012.