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Growing potatoes in a garbage can?

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Post  greenmama on 4/4/2011, 5:54 pm

I want to grow potatoes, and don't have any room for them. I was thinking this might be a good method to try? Do I need to use Mel's mix? What is the cheapest/best soil option for such a huge container? How big of a garbage can do I need? Tell me everything I need to know!
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Post  retired member 2 on 4/5/2011, 12:07 am

I sure wish I could help you, but as a new-bee myself , I don't know 'MY BUTT FROM A HOLE IN THE GROUND". Hopefully someone will have some knowledge they can share with you.
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Post  Aub on 4/5/2011, 1:43 am

My hubby said I could start with compost in the bottom and then when the plants get taller add straw to cover part of the plant. We may do it that way this year. I also thought about using my compost from last year that never finished "cooking". It's about half done.
Good Luck!
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Post  Barkie on 4/5/2011, 5:31 am

Hi,

You can use Mel's Mix and you just use it again for a different crop after the potatoes or you can use compost to sit the spuds on. How big a can - what's cheap, free from the recycling yard or that you have already and how many spuds do you want to grow? Minimum size 12 inches deep but it can be as wide as you like. My half barrel is 18" deep 21" wide diameter and I put in 4 round the outside and one in the middle and liquid feed them.

The barrel has drainage holes in the bottom so I fill the bottom with broken bits of polystyrene packaging and add an inch of half rotted leaves. On top I put 6" of compost in and a sprinkle of blood fish and bone meal then I sit the potatoes on top. I cover them with about 4 inches of compost and when the leaves are 9" high add more and repeat until I've nearly filled the barrel.

I've not done it this way yet, but if you have free or cheap straw on hand I guess you shake that round and on top when the leaves are 9 inches high instead of compost. You just need to exclude light from the growing potatoes to avoid them going green (poisonous when green) and feed them.

Last years first early spuds

Growing potatoes in a garbage can? Rocket10

Taste was yummy.
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Post  greenmama on 4/5/2011, 1:33 pm

Okay, so I don't need to use MM then for the whole can, that's good on my wallet! LOL!

If you plant 5 tomatoes, do you only get back 5 tomatoes? I'm dumb on this Laughing Or do they form a network of roots, that have potatoes all growing off of them?
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Post  Furbalsmom on 4/5/2011, 5:44 pm

Eash potato will grow one or more plants and each plant will grow mulitple potatoes on the root system. Wish I knew what to expect for a crop, but Growing potatoes in a garbage can? 680166

I guess we will learn together.
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Post  middlemamma on 4/6/2011, 1:45 am

You know those rope handled buckets you can get at walmart for $4? They are plenty large enough. I got ton's of potatoes from about 5 of those. I know some folks use 5 gal buckets...a trash can isn't your only option.

I did MM and loved it cause it was so easy to reach in and steal some early ones without disturbing the rest. I know a lot of people use straw but I don't have experience with that!

Good luck! Potatoes were one of my favorite crops last year...they were so fun!
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Post  boffer on 4/6/2011, 1:57 am

@greenmama wrote:If you plant 5 tomatoes, do you only get back 5 tomatoes?

I forget the exact numbers. At the very least, you should get back 10x what you invest.
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Post  Old Hippie on 4/6/2011, 11:22 am

Well, I am not sure what I have done wrong but any time I have tried these methods my results were considerably less than spectacular. Back in our hippie days we learned about doing this with old tires, cardboard boxes, etc. For some reason, none of them worked for me. It bugs me because I love to grow my own potatoes and I keep hearing how wonderful this is. Seeing the potato grow bags makes me crazy. I can't help but think someone is making a killing on this useless gimmick or there has to be something I am doing wrong. Personally, I would rather believe the first one.

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Post  boffer on 4/6/2011, 12:08 pm

@Old Hippie wrote:Well, I am not sure what I have done wrong but any time I have tried these methods my results were considerably less than spectacular.

The first year I tried it, it was classic: a galvanize garbage can with a rusted out bottom. I painted the outside green to blend in. I used old garden hose, sliced the length, around the top (which had been the bottom) to prevent getting cut. I used compost from start to finish. I happened to have company the day we decided to harvest that can. I spread a tarp and proceed to dump out the can. It was really funny because the spuds just kept coming and the company started making ooooh and ahhhh noises! We got over 70 potatoes out of that can that year.

And none since then Sad When I say none, I mean we got potatoes from the seed potatoes only. The plants didn't make any more as they went up the can. Well, that's no different than planting in the ground, so I quit trying.

One thing I have read, but not pursued, is that long season potatoes do the best in high rises, and short season potatoes do poorly. Heck, I didn't know there was such a thing as short and long season spuds! You might recall from other threads, that I keep very limited gardening notes. I don't have a clue what type of potato I planted 6 years ago when I had such good success!

Potatoes grow like weeds in my climate, and I've gotten rather sloppy about potato planting. I stick them any ol' place...just to see what they'll do. I usually harvest several hundred pounds; that lasts us through winter.

I know potatoes are cheap in the store. But the difference in flavor and texture between store bought and homegrown potatoes, is almost as great as the difference between store bought and homegrown tomatoes or corn.
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Post  florenceq on 4/6/2011, 5:04 pm

@middlemamma wrote:You know those rope handled buckets you can get at walmart for $4? They are plenty large enough. I got ton's of potatoes from about 5 of those. I know some folks use 5 gal buckets...a trash can isn't your only option.

middlemamma,
Do you need to put holes in the bottom of the buckets for drainage?
Do you start with 6 inches of MM?
How tall do you let the plants get before you cover them?
Thanks,
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Post  middlemamma on 4/6/2011, 5:17 pm

Yes they need holes in the bottom, very important.

I started with about 4 inches in the bottom of MM, then the seed potatoes, then I put another 2 inches of MM on top. As they grew, I buried the bottom 2 inches, and on and on. When it was time to harvest (when the tops start to die), I dumped the contents out in a wheel barrow, collected my taters and put the MM in my other boxes that settled.
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Post  cabinfever on 4/6/2011, 7:07 pm

I plan on doing my spuds in 5 gallon buckets. Hubby gets them for free at work and has been bringing them home for the past few weeks. I'm gonna use organic potting soil. There are a lot of videos on You tube for doing this, some good, some plain stupid. Take a look see!
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Post  greenmama on 4/6/2011, 9:27 pm

Middlemama~
Wait- let me get this straight.
Put 4" of dirt in, then your seed potatoes on top, and cover them up with 2" more of dirt like a blanket. (right?)

Then as they grow, keep adding 2" more of dirt? I'm clueless on potatoes. Are you saying they will grow up and out to the surface of the dirt, so you want to keep on adding soil to cover them up each and every time you see them grow through the surface?

And what is this about them dying off and knowing when they are done? So the "parent" potatoes you originally planted die off and then you know all the "babies" you grew are done below the surface of the soil?
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Post  WolfHeart on 4/6/2011, 9:43 pm

I have my seeds taters in hand now I just need to come up with some buckets....I can not WAIT to start palnting Growing potatoes in a garbage can? 418730
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Post  Dunkinjean on 4/6/2011, 9:51 pm

In my SFG box #1: 4 x 4 box I am going to grow potatoes in a high rise in my SFG garden which will be 4 squares long across. The remaining squares will have bush green beans, pole beans and peas.

The other 2 boxes will have various vegetables.

I have some questions that I hope someone can answer:

After the potatoes have been harvested in SFG box #1 and cleaned in the fall, can I just take the soil from the high rise and spread it in box #1?

I was planning on rotating all three boxes each year.

Therefore, next spring SFG box #2 will now become the high rise of 4 squares of potatoes. Then also become green beans, etc.

Box #3 will have the veg's box #2 had the prior year. Box #1 will have the veg's that box #3's veg had the prior year (obviously all new seeds, plants)

Does this sound logical?

Thanks.

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Post  boffer on 4/6/2011, 9:55 pm

The numbers vary per source. Start as mm suggests. Then, each time the plant grows 4-6 inches bury the plant in compost, soil, mm, etc, so that only an inch or so of the top leaves are showing. No fear here! They'll keep growing! The theory is, that each time you bury the plant, it will cause the plant to start putting out baby spuds in that layer. In a garbage can, it worked out to be about five layers.

If at the end of the season, you only have potatoes at the level you planted your seed potatoes, the high rise effort was a bust. If you grow your potatoes in a shallow container or in the ground, the only thing you need to do is keep enough material around the stem of the plant so the potatoes don't stick their heads out! When exposed to much sunlight, they'll turn green. The green is slightly poisonous to humans, but it can be cut off and the rest of the potato can be eaten.

It's hard to kill a potato plant! The harvest orphans are the first things to sprout in the spring. They're survivors! At the end of the growing season, the green plants fall over and play dead. You can harvest them all, or leave them in the ground and cover with mulch.

Potatoes don't get 'ripe'. They can be eaten at any time. It's just a matter of size.
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Post  ribarr4 on 4/6/2011, 10:05 pm

We are growing potatoes again after trying 15 years ago. We hope they turn out better this time. Last time we planted 8 potato plant and got 2 potatoes about the size of a pea and the rest were little bitty things. Just kidding. We were disappointed with the size, but back then we had trouble growing carrots and now we grow tons of great looking and tasting carrots so we are hoping the potatoes turn out better as well.
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Post  boffer on 4/6/2011, 10:28 pm

I just looked through the book again, and I don't understand the high rise concept as it is presented.

In row gardening, the concept is that of 'hilling'. As the plant grows, one would pull soil up around it. The purpose is to keep the potatoes covered so they don't turn green. Hilling doesn't increase potato production.

My interpretation of the 'high rise' method in the book is that it is a way to keep the potatoes covered, and not an attempt to increase production like in a garbage can. I'm certainly receptive to changing my mind if someone has experienced otherwise. The box on the left is the six inch box I grew potatoes in last year. Harvest was about the same as potatoes in the ground. I was just careful not to let any potatoes stay exposed. On the right, is a 12 inch box that I tried covering the plants with straw as the plants grew. I didn't like the straw. Harvests were the same from both boxes.


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Post  CarolynPhillips on 4/6/2011, 11:29 pm

my sister has always noticed that there was never any potatoes up the stem where she had struggled to always apply soil and mulch. I am growing mine in a raised concrete block bed with about 16 inches of soil for them to grow in. I will only mulch the plants about 3 inches instead of 8 inches like originally planned on doing. When it is time to harvest, I will remove the blocks on one side of the bed to see exactly how deep the potatoes actually grew to. And the fun part is= I will take pictures. (like dino excavating) Will be embarrassing if i don't have any potatoes. pale
I did not grow very many either. This is experimental for me so I just grew a few.
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Post  greenmama on 4/7/2011, 9:31 am

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Post  Barkie on 4/7/2011, 11:27 am


I've not heard of growing taties in sawdust before. Well, more hilling up with it, but I have some sawdust and a spare seed spud so I'll give it a whirl.
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Post  NAR56 on 4/29/2011, 11:48 am

How many plants do you plant per bucket / barrel? 1, 2 or more?

I have a 30 Gal garbage can that I am not using that I was thinking of using.

Thanks in advance for responding.
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Post  boffer on 4/29/2011, 12:07 pm

I grew 4 plants in this size can, several different years.
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Post  yosoypanadero on 5/1/2011, 10:47 am

If you go to the video on the DIY page of my blog, I have the video posted for how to grow potatoes in a garbage can.
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