Welcome to Garden Tuesday at It’s All Gouda. Do you enjoy Greek Mythology? As a youngster, I was enraptured with those larger than life stories. I clearly remember the first time I turned the pages of the story about Persephone and Demeter, and how their personal joys and sorrows caused the seasons. I was totally swept up in Demeter’s overwhelming sorrow due to being separated from her daughter Persephone, which resulted in the cold and dreary months of winter. I rejoiced along with her when Demeter’s sorrow transforms to joy as she is reunited with her daughter for a few short months each year, and the glorious days of summer return to the land.
Well, those of us who reside in the Pacific Northwest are quite familiar with Demeter’s tears for a good portion of the year. But all is not lost. The warm rays of summer’s sun have been blessing my little part of the universe lately, and just like Demeter, my mood has brightened considerably.
Today’s post is actually a tutorial of sorts. (For you homeschoolers out there, this is a great garden project. It works well for any age group.) Years ago when my teenage kidlin’s were wee tots, I read an article in Family Fun magazine about how to grow potatoes in a garbage can. and I was immediately intrigued. I mean how cool would it be to tell your family and neighbors that the potatoes they were eating were grown in such an unusual vessel? Well, to my surprise, a friend of mine actually saw the same article and gave it a go. She’s a very successful gardener, and really raved about this method. This is a great method to produce a very large yield. I tucked this away in my memory banks as something to try.
Fast forward to this past weekend, when I was getting ready to plant my potatoes. I’ve been holding onto these spuds for a while as I particularly liked them and wanted to grow them myself from this particular bunch. It’s been far to wet to plant them until now, so you’ll notice that they’ve sprouted WAY BEYOND what is normally planted. Plus, I usually cut the potatoes up and just plant pieces of them, making sure each piece has a spouted eye on it. Still, these overly zealous sprouted potatoes were in great shape so ... waste not, want not.
Here’s what you need:
1 large plastic garbage can (I used a 20 gallon one which is on the small size. Feel free to go bigger)
Drill for making drainage holes in can
Garden fabric or large rocks, pieces of pottery etc. for blocking draining holes
Gardening Soil – lots
Potatoes that have sprouted. (remember: you can cut the potatoes in half or thirds before planting making sure each piece has a sprouted bit on it)
Let's begin. Gather your kidlin's and let this be their project!Turn your garbage can upside down. Using a power drill, cut out drainage holes in the bottom of your can. Hubbyman did this for me. These holes are small, and so he positioned nine small holes as shown.Next, you’ll need to cover the holes to keep the dirt from coming out just as you would for a potted plant.I choose to use yard fabric, but large stones or pieces of broken pottery would work just fine. Use what you’ve got.
Now dump in about 12” of gardening soil into the bottom of your can, breaking up any large clumps.Place your sprouted potato pieces on the dirt as shown.Cover with about 4” give or take, with additional soil.
Pick out a good book to read and wait for the plants to grow. In fact, you may want to pick out several books. Or take up a new hobby. Or build a deck. Or paint your house ... inside and out.
Ahem. The point is that it will take your plants a few weeks to make an appearance. Once they are about 6” tall or so, add about 3 more inches of soil covering up the leaves and everything on the bottom ½ of the plant. Repeat this process throughout the growing season until the can is almost full. Oh, and be sure to water your garbage can potatoes just as you would the rest of your garden. At the end of the growing season, dig out your potatoes, and wow your family and friends with your tale of the potatoes ala garbage can!
This is a great project for kids. It’s also perfect for those who are new to gardening or who perhaps don’t have a lot of space to grow potatoes in their yard. It’s perfect for patio gardeners, too. Like I mentioned earlier, it will produce a high yield without taking up a lot of space. Best of all, it doesn’t require a lot of hard work at all.Unlike this octo-legged fellow who’s working quite hard on its web.
So what do you think? Care to give garbage can potatoes a try?