The Potato Experiment

My first attempt at growing potatoes was a total fail. This time was different! (c) Oak Hill Homestead

My first attempt at growing potatoes was a total fail.

Several years ago I planted a couple of seed potatoes in a trash can. A couple of sorry-looking plants grew for awhile, then died. When I dumped the trash can, all I found were those sad little potatoes, slimy-rotten and covered with ants. Ick.

This spring I had one Yukon gold potato in the pantry that was past its prime and I thought, "why not?" Why not try it again. I know more now, and I am a more confident gardener. (Not an expert by any means, but better than I used to be.)

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So I chitted the potato like a gardener is supposed to: I cut it in pieces, with an eye in each piece. I let the pieces air-dry for a day or two and then planted them in the trash can, which has holes drilled all around the bottom. I set the trash can up on a couple of bricks so it could drain more easily. I covered the potato pieces with compost and soil.

I was so excited to find little potato plants growing in the trash can!

After a bit I was thrilled to find potato plants at the bottom of the trash can. As they grew, I covered them with more compost and dry leaves. I fed them occasionally with diluted comfrey tea. Eventually they were well over the top of the trash can.

They looked great, but then disaster struck.

Near the end of the season I found blister beetles gnawing on them. Ack! I picked off the bugs every day - well, I didn't touch them, I knocked them off into a container of soapy water. Die, bugs, die!

For awhile I thought I'd won the war, then I found beetles on the cherry tomato plants and eventually on my salad tomatoes too. I managed to pretty much keep them under control, but one day they stripped my potato plants of all the leaves. I kept watering them, but the bare stems died back and after awhile I thought I'd better go ahead and harvest any potatoes while I still could.

So I dumped the trash can over.

I turned the trash can over and dumped it out.

Wow, there were actually some potatoes this time. Already my experiment was more successful than the first time! I pulled off several little knobs and then I found some larger ones. When I finished going through the soil I was rewarded with this.

How exciting to actually find some potatoes this time!

Not bad. Remember, I only planted one potato. There were a dozen good-sized potatoes tangled in the roots and dirt, and about a dozen "new potatoes." For the next few evenings we had our favorite Yukon golds - boiled new potatoes, roasted potatoes, and baked potatoes.

Homegrown potatoes in a bowl.

Will I do it again? You bet! More containers, more "seed" potatoes. Planting them in the trash can instead of in the ground kept them safe from moles and gophers and even the resident garden bunny. It didn't, however, keep them safe from the blister beetles, so next year I'll be forewarned and ready to battle them.

Have you grown potatoes? What was your biggest challenge?

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. I love it. I had not heard of growing them in a garbage can. What a fun idea with a yummy result.

    1. Thank you, Lady Locust. Since my first attempt at this several years ago was a total fail, it was pretty cool to be successful this year!

  2. That's awesome!! I may have to try this! For some reason, potatoes intimidate me. Ha ha!

    1. They did me too, Christina! Maybe it's because they have to be "hilled" and those horrid potato bugs and so on. This was pretty easy!

  3. Hi Kathi,
    Looks like you ended up with a nice crop of potatoes even with all the beetles and pests. Congratulations on being featured on Homestead blog hop. Shared on twitter & pinned. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!

    1. Thank you, Marla. I was so excited to see that the post was featured on the Homestead Blog Hop this morning!


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