Growing potatoes in garbage cans

"Waste not, want not" is always good advice to a gardener. Take garbage, which originally meant "giblets of a fowl, or waste parts of an animal," now means things we really don't want. But even garbage cans have their use. You can grow potatoes in garbage cans or even heavy duty plastic trash bags.

To use an old garbage can, poke some holes in the bottom for drainage. Any potted, or container grown plant, tends to dry out faster than plants in the ground so be careful and keep your potatoes well watered, but not soggy.

Potatoes need full sun and light, loose, well-drained slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. You will use small "seed potatoes" to plant your crop. About a week or two before planting, set your seed potatoes out in direct light in a warm area, around 60 to 70 degrees. This will cause the seed potatoes to begin sprouting.

A day or two before planting, use a sharp, clean knife to cut any larger seed potatoes into "seeds". If the seed potatoes appear to be small or medium sized, just plant the whole potato in the container. Bigger seed potatoes can be cut in half, or into quarters. Just be sure that each section has two or three buds, or "growth eyes." Each seed should be about one and a half inches square.

After cutting, let the cut surface form a callus before planting them. This callous helps prevent them from rotting in the soil.

An easy way to guess potential yield, is to multiply the pounds of seed potatoes planted by 10. So if you plant five pounds of seed potatoes, you should grow 50 pounds of potatoes. Depending upon soil and watering you may get much higher yields. Because diseases can live in soil for many years, it's best to rotate your potato crop so you aren't planting in the same soil every year.

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