Gardening 101: Planting Potatoes in a Container

If you have limited garden space…planting your potatoes in a container is a fun option. I’ll be planting potatoes both in my garden and in a container, just so that we can have as many potatoes as possible!

There are a variety of ways to plant potatoes in a container. For me, the easiest way is to use an old rubbermaid garbage container. (Hint:  remove garbage first.)

potatoescontainer5sm1.JPG potatoescontainer3sm1.JPG

Here are the simple steps:

  1. Poke or drill several holes in bottom of garbage can.
  2. Scoop about one foot of soil into the container.
  3. Push five whole seed potatoes into the soil, spread apart evenly.
  4. Make sure the potatoes are completely covered by about two inches of soil.
  5. Water the seed potatoes.
  6. Sit patiently and wait for them to grow. You may want to take up knitting.
  7. Once the plants have grown to 7-8 inches in height…scoop more soil into the container. The soil level should be about three inches from the top of the plants.
  8. Water the plants as needed. As soon as the plants begin to flower, be sure to water generously and consistently.
  9. Each time the plants reach 7-8 inches above the soil level, scoop more soil into the container, maintaining the soil at three inches from the top of the plants.
  10. At the end of the summer, dump out the contents of your container (which will, by that time, weigh approximately 368.4 pounds). Dig all around the dumped out soil and gather potatoes. 
  11. Jump and cheer each time you find a potato. Have an “I found the biggest potato, neener, neener, neener” competition. 
  12. Go make mashed potatoes.

Don’t ask me how many potatoes you’ll be able to grow using this method. I’ve read that you can grow several pounds of them. Last year when I first tried doing this, I didn’t do a very good job of continuing to fill my container with soil like I was supposed to…therefore I didn’t have a very high yield. This year…I’m planning to do better!

By the way, with the exception of poking the holes in my container (because I had done that already last year)…this process took only ten minutes. That included digging up soil, planting, watering…and yes…stopping to take a few picture. (Wonder what my neighbors were thinking? Weird lady. Takes pictures of her dirt and trash cans.  Weird, weird lady.)

A few more things you might be wondering about…

How should I poke holes in my container?  Well…I had the kids stand back while I went to town with a pitch fork. But a much safer and more effective way is to use a drill.

What kind of soil should I put into my container?  I dug up some good soil from the compost area in our backyard. You can use packaged soil from the store…but keep in mind that you’ll need quite a bit. I remember being surprised last year with how many bags of soil it took.

Does my container need to have the left-side handle missing?  No. Your potaoes will grow just fine in a container that has both handles attached.

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Will you show us updates on your blog as your potato plants grow? Absolutely! 

Will I get dirt under my fingernails?  Yes. When you push the seed potatoes under the soil, you will get dirty. But don’t worry. It will feel good. You’ll feel like a good farmer. You’ll feel like you’re working hard to feed your family. You’ll feel like you accomplished oodles of work because you got dirty. (Don’t tell anyone it took ten minutes.)

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Oh…be proud of those dirty fingernails! See…I was so proud of mine I took a picture for you. (Weird, weird lady)

Do any of you have experience planting potatoes in a container? Any of you planning to give it a try this year? Anybody want to send me a picture of your dirty fingernails?

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to grow potatoes, but have been unwilling to give up precious garden ground to do it. This is a great alternative, AND! I think I even have a trashcan with a missing handle that will be perfect!

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  2. says

    I love this idea! I have never grown potatoes before, let alone in a garbage can. With limited garden space, this technique seems perfect.

    We have had a few gardening posts on the Green Baby Guide over the last few weeks. I’ve felt like a hypocrite considering my limited success with gardening in the past. This year will be different, though!

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  3. says

    When I was little, my papa would take me out to his garden to roll the old tires out to the potato area. Instead of a container, he used the tires, stacking them up as the plant grew up. He would have multiple stacks 6-8 tires high by the end of the growing season. It was fun, and cheep as he kept all his tires from all his vehicles. It was the most fun day of the planting season as it became a game who could roll the tires the furthest, who could stack them the highest, and finally who’s stack produced the most potatoes.

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  4. says

    we have tried 2 yrs now to grow potatoes in the ground… WITH NO LUCK.. we have clay… soo this year we are doing the SORT OF bucket meathod… We are planting in circles of fencing… some idea… just no bucket… and plenty of straw!
    I can’t wait to see how they do!

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  5. says

    I was wondering why you used whole potatoes instead of cutting them like you do when you put them in the ground. Our seed potatoes came and are just sitting until May when we don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures even though our snow that was here yesterday is gone already. Is it just because there is room to grow from a whole one?

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  6. says

    I love it!! I am heading into my second year of square foot gardening. I don’t have anything planted yet (too cold still) but I do have my four beds all planned out. I was rather disappointed to see that the space I had allotted to potatoes (a 3-foot x 1-foot rectangle) should only be home to 3 plants, and not 12. Apparently you can plant four per square if you want small potatoes, but only one per if you want large ones. I’m considering planting 2 per square, each diagonal to the other, which will result in two staggered rows of three plants. I don’t want massive potatoes (it’s just me and my 4.5-y.o. here) but nor do I want marbles. Verrrry long-winded post to say, “Thank you for posting this!” I might add an additional potato crop grown in a container.

    Off to work on my own WFMW submission…

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  7. beth says

    Thanks for the great advice. I have a couple questions…does the garbage can need to be in an area w/ full sunlight? Also, can this be done with sweet potatoes also? thanks so much!

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  8. Nicky says

    We do this but with old tires. As long as I remember to keep adding dirt as the plants grow…grin..we have had great results!

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  9. says

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been looking for alternatives to a vegetable garden since my chocolate lab has overtaken the backyard. I’m new at this so I thought the bigger vegetables would be out of the question but this sounds great. :)

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  10. says

    This might be a silly question, but where do you get seed potatoes? I’m new to this potato thing. Also, where do you keep your potatoes?

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  11. Serenity Summers says

    Laura,

    LOVED this post!!!! Do you think I can use old Rubbermaid storage tubs instead of trash cans? I have lots of storage tubs available but no trash cans…

    [Reply]

  12. says

    Awesome! I’ve got potatoes, dirt and a couple dented up garbage cans I’ve been wondering what to do with. I also have an old tractor tire I might try.
    Thanks!

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  13. Stacey in Nebraska says

    QUESTION: If I plant them in my garden, not in a one-handled trash can do I have to keep adding soil to them as they grow?

    Thanks :-)

    Stacey (your semi-neighbor in NE)

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  14. says

    Do you really have to dump the trash out? Wouldn’t it just become compost? Just Kidding… It’s getting late.

    We literally threw some potatoes in the ground last week. I was wondering what we were supposed to do next (as far as compost and soil go). I hope we get something. Thanks!

    I really enjoyed your use of a gallon of raw milk. I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to when life settles down a bit.

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  15. says

    This was the best and thorough directions on growing potatoes up I’ve ever read. Thank you. Now I understand what needs to happen.

    I have a question. How much sun/heat can potatoes take? I live in the desert and am not sure where they would best be placed.

    Thank you!

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  16. says

    We don’t want to use one of our garden beds for potatoes this year, and were hoping to come up with an easy container to grow them in instead. Great idea, thanks! If only I had another old trash can. We used both of ours for our compost bin.

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  17. says

    I never thought of putting them in a trash barrel. I know my dad used to build up using old tires, and got bushels of potatoes that way. (bushels = LOTS)

    As for the dirt under the nails, I have it too. My only regret, not using lotion. All the dirt digging and hot soapy water scrubbing left my hands dry and I now have (attractively) stained fingernail. Only slightly dingy. :-)

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  18. says

    I am thinking about growing potatoes this summer, they grow very well up here, but I was going to try something I had heard about – growing them in old tires. The process is very similar to your trick of using a trash tan. Perhaps I’ll do both and see which method yields the greater harvest.

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  19. says

    This is AWESOME! And again, showing my potato naivete, what are “seed potatoes”?? Can I just use some organic potatoes I bought from the store that are sprouting eyes??

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  20. Merrilee says

    I finally got my garbage can and planted my potatoes today. Can you believe I couldn’t find one of Craigslist or freecycle? Oh well. Thanks for sharing! I am looking forward to seeing how many potatoes come from this.

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  21. Vivian says

    I love this idea. I live down south in South Carolina. How long does it take potatoes to grow?

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  22. says

    We are also doing container gardening with potatoes but using old tires and stacking as we go. We have 4 stacks, 2 red potatoes and 2 yukon gold!

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  23. says

    Vivian,
    I live in GA and I have been told that you plant your potatoes in Spring and you harvest around Sept/Oct. They have a LONG growing season. So does peanuts too (which we are growing in a baby pool!

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  24. says

    Yay, I just planted 2 potato plants in a big pot! I am looking forward to them coming up:-) They are red potatoes. Anyone else ever try planting red ones before? Thanks for this Tutorial, Laura!!

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  25. says

    Great blog post! I love learning about this online as gardening/landscaping are not only hobbies of mine but I actually do a little bit of work like that during the summer months as a second job. I appreciate your content in your blog and wish that you would keep up the good work :)

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  26. Jean Dupuis says

    I have planted 8 potatoes in a container garden The container Garden is two feet deep 4 Feet across and 8 Feet long .I just made one row with my Potatoes I have Hilled them .They have grown so high about 34 in no Flowers yet Iam sure there will be nothing there when I did them but it is fun to see them getting so high .We have a fence around them to keep the deer and Rabbits out .I just wonder if they will produce anything .It is fun to try something new . Thank you

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  27. says

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1925531586785452183&ei=G3RySuP-O6XqrALq8IS1BQ&q=%22homegrown+hydroponics%22

    I have just discovered hydroponics gardening to grow my lettuce all year long. I used to grow my vegetables outdoors in my outdoor garden, but had problems with animals & pests. Now I have moved my hydroponics garden in-doors and began growing my garden with hydroponics. The plants grow faster and the organic results are stellar. I would steer you towards hydroponics gardening to anyone looking to grow plants all year. Hydroponics gardening is a lot better than traditional soil gardens in my opinion. Just my 2 cents. I hope this helps…

    [url=http://homegrown-hydroponics.com/] grow box plans[/url]

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  28. Aaron says

    Love your wit & the detail you give in explaining “how to” – especially for those of us Mommas who just didn’t ‘get it’ the first time around (or the second. heehee). Thank you!

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  29. Pamela Sayles says

    Can potatoes be grown in a garbage can in the winter in the garage?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I don’t think it would work very well. They need a lot of sun.

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  30. marlow says

    I will be undertaking this very shortly, and am quite excited! Now.. if you could figure out how to do this with melons..

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  31. says

    this is a great idea. I’m going to do this for this year.

    How did you’re do last year? Did you get a lot of potatoes?

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    Laura Reply:

    Mine didn’t do great unfortunately. I think it had to do with quality of my soil. I am SO trying again this year!

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  32. Alan Jones says

    I am just starting to grow potatoes. I got the trashcan, the dirt, and I am adding Perulate (sp?) like Vermiculite. I will drill holes in the bottom and a few inches up the side from the bottom of the can. I found seed potatoes in the Lowe’s Hardware store in the garden section (I was surprised, I thought I had to order pounds of them via the internet). One question I have is, I heard 2 different instructions from different places about adding the additional dirt later. One sources says cover up the plants, others say add dirt but leave several inches of the plants showing. Which is best? Anyone try one way or the other and have bad results? Does a dark colored can do better holding heat? Do the potato plants get enough light down in the can?

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    Laura Reply:

    I’ve just heard to add soil up to a couple inches below the top of the plant. They grow REALLY quickly though, so you really have to watch them!

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    Debbie Patterson Reply:

    I’ve grown potatoes this way several times when we didn’t have room in the garden and it worked wonderfully. I kept the container on our driveway so it was convenient to add dirt and water, which made it easier to keep up with.

    There were a few times when the spring rains lasted so long, that we weren’t able to till our garden for planting. Not wanting to give up the garden, we just put our tomatoes, green peppers, etc. in pots on the driveway and it worked out great. We had tons of veggies in each pot and since then, we refer to it as “driveway gardening”.

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  33. Alan Jones says

    I was adding dirt every couple days!!! Man it grows. Now I ran out of container space but the plant is still growing bigger and bigger! Will it stop? Should I stop watering? While the plant is still growing should I harvest? I heard some varieties have flowers, I don’t see any. Mine are Burbank Russett variety.

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    Laura Reply:

    It will keep growing and spill over the top, but that’s okay! Let it stay in the pot and KEEP WATERING until the plant withers and dies, which could be a while! As long as the plant is alive, the potatoes will continue to grow.

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  34. Mommamoody says

    wonderful post.. I tried this last year without poking the holes. it was a bucket of muck. so this time i will do better…

    I have some potatoes that are a little floppy and well “eyed”. so this is a great. I had told my 2, 3 and 5 year old a couple of days ago, to just plant them in the leftover dirt I had (read my the half of my garden that i just haven’t gotten to yet)… They buried one and then just rested the remaining on top of the dirt. Since squirrels already cruise my yard and eye my garden, I just tossed them into the composter instead of teaching those rodents that my garden was an “all you can eat diner, come back again tomorrow”.

    I think I am inspired enough to get a drill and pull those potatoes out of the composter..

    Thanks!

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  35. says

    This is so cool!! I can’t wait to try it.
    I always wanted to do potatoes but didn’t want to give up the precious garden space. I will make this a homeschool/daycare project. I have an cruddy, old trash can that keeps getting in my way – I was going to get rid of it, but you can’t put a trash can out for the trash – it never gets picked up!! LOL! I now have a use for it – Thanks!

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  36. jerilyn says

    I need to find an old trashcan now! I planted 1 potato in a washed out, cut milk jug mainly because I thought it would be interesting to see what it does- I hadn’t read anything on how to grow potatoes! So I might transplant it and see if we can get some grown!

    how big should the trashcan be? At least the size of the one pictured?

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  37. Tamara says

    My mother-in-law says that she has heard good things about planting potatoes in tires. When harvest time rolls around, there is virtually no digging involved.

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  38. Rachel says

    I got some old trash cans from freecycle with holes already torn into the bottom. I’m excited about not having to dig potatoes. I’ve also read that once you’ve made the initial start with potatoes in the soil, you can just put hay/straw over the growing vine and it will continue to set potatoes, dirt free. You can do this in old tires but consider if you really want all the chemicals from old tires leaching into the soil and your potatoes.

    Sweet potatoes will grow in a container in dirt as described in the post. They won’t grow well or set in the straw method that I mentioned above.

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  39. Jennifer says

    We don’t have organic seed potatoes but are using some of our organic regular potatoes that are starting to grow the eyes. Does this matter do you know?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    You can just plant your organic regular potatoes. I’ve have success with doing this before.

    [Reply]

    Caitlaegn Reply:

    Thank you for this question and reply! I too was wondering if using organic potatoes would work but couldn’t find the answer anywhere. I feel much more comfortable that I won’t be wasting my time (and a large container’s worth of dirt)!

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  40. Lisa says

    I went searching for new potatoes today (potatoes were planted on April 12, 2010) and found not one tuber. Why is that? I want to plant a fall crop in early August and would like to know how can I prevent this from happening again?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    WOW, I don’t know! Did your plant have blossoms on it? If there are blossoms, there should be potatoes.

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  41. Deann says

    I’m not much of a gardener. I tried growing tomatoes in those upside-down hanging planters on my deck and killed them all! This, however, sounds like something even I could do (maybe).

    Does it matter what time of year the potatoes are planted? (I always thought you had to plant potatoes in winter) It’s generally about 95 degrees here in the summer. Too hot?? Too late??

    PS your instructions were very entertaining!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    You usually plant potatoes in the spring when it’s cooler, then they need some sun during the summer to help them grow. 95 degrees isn’t too hot, as long as you give them plenty of water. Now is probably too late to let them have enough growing time. :(

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    Deann Reply:

    I figured it was too late. But this will be good to know for next year! I ran across your site quite by accident, and I’m glad I did. There is so much helpful info here!
    Thank You!!

    [Reply]

  42. says

    So excited to try this in the spring. I read how sprayed our potatoes from the store are and want to grow our own. How many did you get from each trash can or how many pounds? Did you happen to track it?? Wondering how many trash cans I need for a family of five :)
    Thanks,
    Rebecca

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    You know, we’ve read that this idea works very well…but our yeild just hasn’t been great. I’m not sure if it’s our soil quality or what.

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  43. Frank Ochs says

    What a wonderful story about your family, God Bless. I am going to grow potatoes in a trash can this year. I went to a garden show and they were showing a way, by cuting the bottom of the can off and turning the can on the top. That way you can life a little and take your rewards.

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  44. says

    I love this idea. I’m such a newbie at this that I don’t know what a “seed” potato is. Help!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    You’ll find “seed potatoes” at your local garden store or even at your grocery store (maybe!). They are in the produce department of our grocery stores this time of year in Nebraska. They are dirtier than “eatin’ potatoes” and have lots of eyes on them. They are used specifically for planting.

    [Reply]

    Donna Reply:

    seed potatoes can be any potatoes that you have that have gotten old and currently have eyes. The way we do this is we take the seed potatoes and cut them. 1 eye on each piece of potatoe and plant each of these.

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  45. Melody says

    How many potatoes did your 5 seed potatoes yield?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Ugh, not nearly as many as we were hoping for. :( Not sure if we did something wrong or what because we’ve heard that this can produce lots and lots!

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  46. says

    I’m going to try this in some large containers I got from a local nursery. I just cut the tubers up today, as each one was quite large and had 2 or 3 eyes on each of them. I’m going to use the straw method – already have my bale of wheat straw and some potting soil for the bottom of the containers. I can’t wait!!

    [Reply]

    Sally Reply:

    I will be trying this! It just sounds like so much fun! And I’m sure
    my grand-kids will enjoy it as well!

    [Reply]

  47. Alyssa says

    Do ALL potatoes flower? I have red potatoes in a grow bag, but they aren’t flowering and the leaves/stalks are gradually browning…the sweet potatoes in the other grow bag are new, so I don’t know what they’ll do, but the potatoes that have just been thrown into the compost bed are blooming up a storm!!!

    [Reply]

    Laura@HeavenlyHomemakers Reply:

    They should flower…as far as I know, as long as they flower, there will be potatoes under the ground…otherwise there may not be. :(

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  48. Suzette says

    Does anyone know if any other vegetables would grow besides using potatoes in a trash can? I have some russets growing in an old tree container and red potatoes in an old galvenized trashcan and they seem to be growing rapidly. Don’t know how they will produce yet. But one of the articles I read said you could use soil on the bottom (I am using miracle grow potting soil) and then cover with shredded paper as the potatoes grow.) I am trying this as an experiment but seems to be working.

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  49. Cindy says

    This is just what I’ve been looking for! My daughter is going to be so happy about finally getting to plant potatoes and sweet potatoes for those every popular sweet potato fries! YUM! Thank you from me, my daughter and my son (and anyone else that may benefit from our success)!!!!

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  50. Abbey says

    Do you keep your potatoes in full sun or in a shady spot? I am going to put in my potatoes today!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Sunny spot!

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  51. CJ says

    Great website. So entertaining that you just keep reading and remember what you read. I tried growing potatoes in a container for the first time this year- – before reading this– but failed to keep adding the soil. I got enough potatoes to make 1 large potato salad dish. Can’t wait to do it again — the right way and have a larger yield. Growing sweet potatoes now using the process described.

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  52. says

    Hi Laura,

    I tried this last year and ended up with about three pounds of potatoes, mostly small. They were delicious, but my problem is they only grew in the very bottom where they would have grown had I not done all the piling dirt up along the plants as they grew.
    I’m trying again this year, the plants are about 8-inches high now and I’m about to start adding soil, but hoping to find out what I did wrong and hoping to grow more potatoes this year.
    Any tips would be very much appreciated.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I wish I knew!! I had trouble last year too and only got a few potatoes, just like you. :( We were pretty bummed as we’ve heard great things about growing potatoes this way.

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  53. Valerie Ringuette says

    HELP! I did this and all was going GREAT but my husband (and me too I guess..ha) misunderstood and he put a ton of dirt on the plants when they were only about 3 inches tall……did we kill them? I haven’t seen anything come up in weeks. Ugh!!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Shucks, how are they doing by now? It sounds like too much dirt was added. :( Were you able to dig them out a little bit, or did they poke up anyway??

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  54. Valerie Ringuette says

    I have not seen them in WEEKS! It really didn’t occur to me to unbury them…but now that you say that I feel a little stupid. Ha. Oh well. My broccoli and now my potatoes did not make it. I’m now praying over the corn, carrots, garlic, onions, tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. Sigh. Oh well you live you learn.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I may not have thought to unbury them either if it had been my own!! Sounds like the rest of your garden is doing great!

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  55. Jim Clark says

    My son in law used an old box and came away with about 5 lbs of red potatoes this year. I can’t wait until next spring to try growing them. At 73 I guess I can still learn something new.

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  56. Rachel says

    I have to say that I have really enjoyed perusing your site!! You sound like my daughter in personality and that is wonderful! Draws people to Jesus when they see us filled with joy! It just get bad when I’ve tried to discipline (she’s 18 now) and she gives me that grin. I have to laugh at her then get back to the business at hand!

    Love the potato container idea. I have grown potatoes in our square foot garden and LOVED!!! them. Best taters ever! I’ve heard of growing them vertically in a container, but just haven’t ever done it. I have a very old trash barrel in my yard that will serve the purpose nicely. I don’t even have to wield my trusty pitchfork, though our son would have loved using his sword, I’m sure!

    I have to also tell you a funny story. My grandma told me that the best time to plant potatoes was in the dark of the moon (old wives’ tale). Me, being newly married and still a bit green behind the ears, literally thought she meant “in the dark of the moon.” I asked myself, what difference does it make if I plant them during the day or the night??? But being the obedient one, I got out my lantern and planted them “by the dark of the moon.” My father about burst his sides laughing when I told him that it worked and our crop was really successful. Gram’s tip was great. After he composed himself, he informed me that “in the dark of the moon” really means during the new moon when there is no moon. I was able to wipe the mud off my face, literally (harvesting potatoes is messy!), I was able to laugh at myself and thank the Lord that He is the giver of all good gifts, among them being delicious homegrown potatoes.

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  57. Donna says

    You are HILARIOUS! Love your post – Keep ’em coming as I always need a good tip AND a good chuckle!!

    [Reply]

    Michael Mueller Reply:

    yes – this was a great post – I loved the FAQ “does my garbage can need to be missing the left handle” Classic!

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  58. Dai says

    Do you think this method would work with sweet potatoes?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’m not sure, since I’ve never tried it before, but it would be worth a try!

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  59. carole says

    Great idea. I’m wondering though, if you plant at the bottom of a tall garbage can, how do the potatoes get enough light at first? About how tall is your container?

    Thanks ever so.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’m not sure the exact height of my can, but it’s a standard sized trash can. Apparently it is able to get enough light, even at first. I usually put it in direct sunlight for the entire process.

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  60. rhonda harper says

    I just found this site, and have enjoyed the posts. I am trying potatoes in trash bags this year for the first time, and have researched alot about it. One thing I read was that it won’t work with the early varieties…they only set tubers on the bottom, which limits the yield. Sounds like that’s what happened to others who tried this. The mid and late season varieties are supposed to do better. :)

    [Reply]

    Shelly Reply:

    I am trying this for the first time as well. We just planted ours yesterday. I found a WONDERFUL gardener here at a mom and pop nursery, and he gave me instructions -just as Laura has stated. he promised 10lb yield for every 1lb of potatoes planted! If that’s the case, I should end up with 20-25lbs of potatoes!! I am praying for my entire garden. Its all organic and would help feed my family immensly. Good luck on yours!!

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  61. Michael Mueller says

    Thanks for this post, I have recently moved to a small lot in Tualatin, OR from Sandpoint ID where I had a lot of space and was looking for ideas like this.

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  62. says

    Reading your blog makes me want to move out to the country somewhere and live off the land and mail-order food.

    I love LA though. Really. I swear…..

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  63. Kim P. says

    Ran across this the other day and I LOVE this!! I just really getting started in the whole garden thing…using raised beds and growing a lot from seed!
    I’m itchin’ to pick up my girls from school so we can get all the materials and have this up and running TODAY!! Thank you! :)

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  64. Tom H says

    I had heard of doing this years ago from my mother. She had always told me at each foot of dirt add another layer of seed potatos. I have not tried it but will this year. Will give you an update in the fall.

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  65. sebecmomma says

    i grew potatoes and only planted old potatoes that had a bunch of eyes on them in the ground and watered them and left them to grow. at the end of the summer when the plants died off, i dug them up and had tons of potatoes. although i think this year i will try the straw method…no digging :)

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  66. Amber says

    Will this method work for sweet potatoes??

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    Laura Reply:

    I’m not sure as I haven’t tried that before.

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  67. Donna says

    August 8, 2012 Just dumped my garbage can. I uncovered about 3 dozen small red potatoes. I must have done something wrong.

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    Laura Reply:

    No, you didn’t do anything wrong. Sometimes there just isn’t much yeild on this unfortunately. :(

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    jamie garcia Reply:

    I’ve heard potatoes are heavy feeders that need loose soil. So add manure to your compost and add sand to soil would be my guess.

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  68. Joy says

    Hi Laura,
    we live in Florida, and there are still many weeks of heat left. What do you know about planting these potatoes this late in the year?
    My girls would LOVE this! We homeschool, and anything that gets them out doors, and their hands dirty is right up our alley! :)
    Love your posts……..
    Joy

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    I am not sure if/how it would work since we are about to embark on winter! I think I owuld google it and see what you find! :)

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  69. Ann Marie says

    Do I have to buy seed potatoes (If so where do I find them?) or can I just use one of my potatoes that got “lost” in the back of the cupboard and started to sprout?

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Laura just buys hers in the spring at a gardening store.

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  70. Helen says

    I’m too cheap to buy potato vine for decorative planting (grows great in this area) so I cut apart a sweet potato and stuck in the ground in several places. Watered heavy until they sprouted. Just cleaned out one bed of withered vines and found a ton (TX exageration)of sweet potatoes sticking out of ground. 8 large potatoes and 5 HUGE potatoes from one plant – haven’t unearthed the others. Plan to use your method next year and be more intentional.

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  71. Carol says

    I haven’t tried this, but everything I have read says that you have to plant long-season varieties to get a barrel full. Varieties that have maturity times of over 120 days. Those will continue to grow potatoes along the stalk as it gets covered with soil. The earlier varieties set fruit only at the bottom of the root system.
    Carol B

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  72. David says

    Potatoes are tubers that grow on the stem. Cover with dirt or mulch to keep sunlight off the taters so they don’t turn green (the green is poisonous.) Sweet potatoes are (tuberous) roots that grow in the dirt. Start sweets in deep soil. Two entirely dfferent kinds of plants. Just an FYI. But nothing wrong with experimenting.

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    Miranda Reply:

    Sweet taters are vines related to morning glory’s. So more than likey this will help delvelop a great root systthe em. I would like to try this idea. Does anybody have a variety name I could look for in long season variety?

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    Miranda Reply:

    I ment a variety of regular tater?

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  73. says

    Thanks for the great article. With budget concerns and rising food costs, I am trying to learn how to garden from scratch. Any other articles like this that can help are more than welcome. I am going to wait until I get a couple of potatoes with eyes and plant them. I have already started planting green onion white parts with roots and have a thriving potted plant of onions. :) Waiting to see if my lettuce, beans and squash take off. :)

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  74. msdee aka the garden bee says

    this first time Ihave ever posted anything but this such a warm and friendly site it feels like family and friends so here goes…..can veggies like carrots turnips beets basically anything that grows under ground be planted using the trash can method

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    Laura Reply:

    I’m really not sure, but maybe another reader will be able to answer. :)

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  75. says

    I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but the reason your crop was not as abundant as you expected is indeed, are you ready for this? you must have TWO handles on your trash can in order for the potatoes to grow properly. I am so sorry I was not able to advise you last year however I believe there is still time to purchase a handle and attach it for the 2013 growing season!!! On a serious note, be sure to cut your potatoes and let them dry overnight before planting. Keep those fingers dirty!

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  76. Rikki Daniels says

    How much sunlight do potatoes need? I have a very shady yard and so far have only succeeded in growing a few herbs.

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    Laura Reply:

    They don’t need as much sun and heat as some plants, but they do need some sun. Not sure a shady yard would do the trick, but it might be worth a try!

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  77. Rick says

    This will help keep your growing costs to a minimum. After planting the eyes of cut and dried over nite potatoes in soil. (or seed potatoes) You can use any medium that is handy (FREE) to cover the plants as they grow. My favorite is shredded leaves from the previous fall, that I just store in the shed in barrels or brown leaf bags. You may also use pine needles, saw dust or any combination of those. Dried grass clipping will work if you mix a little sand and or soil in with the clippings, hay is also an excellent medium. It has been my experience that the lighter or fluffier the medium, the better the yield. this I assume is from the smaller amount of resistance the growing tubers are up against. If you don’t mind spending an extra 10 bucks, buy a large block of peat moss and mix it in with any one of the above free mediums, it will keep everything loose and at the same time it keeps the the mixture evenly moist. If you have access to old rimless car tires, you can plant the seeds in soil in one tire (laid on its side of coarse) and then just add tires and fill as they grow.

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    Jane T Reply:

    Can you tell me if this method of container gardening will work as well with sweet potatoes? Are there any variations in the planting technique? Thanks to Rick for the info about alternate growing media to use with potatoes–I will definitely try adding the peat moss. Also, can you be more specific about what a “seed potato” is and how to prepare them for planting? Thank you!

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    Carrie Reply:

    You can use the same method for sweet potatoes. I have used it for two years running now and have a nice yield. I will try the hay and mulch suggested this year because I need to fill my barrells.
    Lots of fun to harvest the potatoes

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  78. sawdustagain says

    I grow potatoes in square three-gallon buckets that I get from a local burger joint. I fill each bucket with six inches of dirt, lay in three seed potatoes, then cover with two inches of dirt. I continue filling the bucket with dirt as the plant grows. Harvesting is easy, just dump the bucket in a wheelbarrow. I eat the big potatoes and plant the too-little-to-eat potatoes next year.

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  79. Mrs. L says

    I am excited to try this potatoes-in-a-bucket thing! Come 2015 I’d like to try sweet potatoes. One question; has anyone had a problem with potato bugs using this bucket-method?

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  80. Heidi Lindenberg says

    Dear Laura, I am one of these first time (oh what the heck ) potato planters. Read every word you said and was “tickled pink” about your very funny comments. (Weird, weird lady ) With gardener pride, did I looked at the dirt under my fingernails. Was tempted not clean them and showing them off, by going to the store like this. Telling the cashier,” No lady, I wont spend money on store-bought potato’s. I grow my own. And if you don’t believe me….I will give you Laura’s website.”
    Thank you very much for your help and I must be a weird, weird lady too.
    With friendly greetings…..Heidi

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    Laura Reply:

    Haha, awesome!! :)

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  81. Evelyn says

    I like your humor and your sincerity, I wish you to never let go of that little intriguing smile. Take pictures at even more strange stuff and let me know how your silly neighbors react, we will have a laugh together. Stay young.

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