Gardening · Homesteading · Upcycling

Garbage Can Taters

Our island is about a decade behind the rest of the civilized country. Until recently we still put out old school garbage cans to be picked up – and dumped into the garbage truck by a grown person killing their back. Finally the company announced they were going to provide the square plastic cans and they’d have a modern set of trucks with arms to pick them up with.

Which means…suddenly a lot of people have 1 to 2 old garbage cans with no idea what to do with them.

Sure…you could use them to put paper and metal recycling into, for the monthly trip to the transfer stations. Which is a good use.

Or you could grow potatoes!

Ozette potatoes. A Washington State heritage potato. I love when I harvest these gnarly taters.

Two years ago as spring approached we had an old can, that had finally cracked on the bottom. Kirk cut the bottom off with a saw – a Sawzall would work as well. Doesn’t need to be perfect. Just cut across.

Wash the can really well out. You can do this before or after you cut. Up to you!

Then find a spot in the garden to plunk it down. We put it the end of a row. I pushed it down a bit into the dirt. If you have grass, do a thick layer of cardboard first to smother the weeds/grass first.

Then add in some soil. I use well aged compost. Then add in your seed potatoes as you wish, across the dirt.

You have two methods from this point: Either fill it up to the top, or cover the potatoes and wait. Both methods work (I have tried it both ways). The first method, you just water and eventually the potatoes grow to the surface and the green opens. The second you must keep “hilling up” with more soil as the potatoes grow. I usually go version 1 as I don’t want to forget to add soil. It works for me.

As summer progressed the potato leaves shot up.

Harvesting is easy when the tops die back. Just gently shake the can to loosen up the soil. Then pull up and wiggle off. You can then dig thru the soil to get all the potatoes out. I try to salvage the soil and reuse it at least once, then send it to the compost pile.

In mid to late summer I plant another crop for fall, and even to overwinter till spring (for an early crop).

Upcycle those garbage cans….you’ll love how easy it is! (And bonus? You can grow larger potatoes this way, including Russets.)