Planting Potatoes in a Garbage Can

I have to admit, this wasn’t my idea.  I got the idea from The Frugal Greenish Mama blog, who is growing potatoes in a garbage can for the first time herself.  I’ve always wanted to grow potatoes and it just always seemed too hard, but with this system, I’m sold! Jon has always wanted to grow blue potatoes, so that’s what we planted.  Check out these blue spuds!

The inside of Blue Seed Potatoes - they look purple!
The inside of Blue Seed Potatoes

I discussed this with my neighbor who grew potatoes in her garden last year, and she agreed that planting potatoes in a garbage can is brilliant.  The brilliant part is at harvest time – instead of digging up potatoes and rooting through the ground, you lay out a tarp, dump the can, and pick out the potatoes.  The rest goes into your compost bin or as topsoil on your garden.

Since I’ve never done this before, I’ll recommend that you visit The Frugal Greenish Mama for directions, or Google “potatoes in garbage cans” for several sites with directions.   The basics are that you plant the potatoes in dirt in a garbage can (that has drainage holes), then as the plants grow, you add soil until you reach the top of the can, always leaving about 3″ of plant sticking out of the soil.

Here is a video with Ellie describing the process and photos along the way:

Blue Potatoes curing on the window sill for 24 hours before cutting.
Blue Potatoes curing on the window sill for 24 hours before cutting.
Little girl posing with bag of seed potatoes and the garbage can.
Showing off the seed potato bag with the garbage can.
Can you believe it’s hot enough for her to be wearing a bathing suit in April in New England?

Checking the depth of the soil in the can.
Measuring the depth of the soil in the can.
We planted them 3-4″ deep.
(Check out the laundry hanging in the background.)
Seed potatoes in the garbage can before dirt covers them.
The things that look like rocks or weird eggs are the potatoes.
3 weeks later

First Potato plant growing through the dirt.

Three weeks later, first Potato plant growing through the dirt.
Early Potato plant growing through the dirt
This is a 2nd plant growing through at the three week mark.

I’m exciting to have our first few plants sticking through.  I’ll be updating on Facebook as the potatoes grow, and I look forward to posting later about adding dirt and filling the can!  For now the can is still somewhat mobile, and I’ve pulled it out from under the solar panel awning into the full sun, but eventually it will have to find a semi-permanent spot.

Update: Throughout the growing season we posted pictures of the progress on Growing, Growing, Growing Potatoes in a Garbage Can.  Read a re-cap of the harvesting on Harvesting Trash Can Potatoes.

Happy Greening!

Also read:

Harvesting Trash Can Potatoes
Growing, Growing, Growing
Trash Can Potatoes

Have you ever grown potatoes?  Tell me about it!  Any pointers?  Leave them in the comments below.

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  1. Cool idea! We have potato boxes, but haven’t had a fully successful year yet with them. Perhaps we’ll give this a try next year. Thanks for linking up on Tuesday Greens at!

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