Monday, January 12, 2015

Potato Bin

Last year I saw a neat post on Pinterest that I really wanted to try.  It was all about how to grow your own potatoes in a large trash can.  Can’t be that hard right?  We had an old 55 gallon trash bin that had at one point been converted to a rain barrel and was no longer being used as such.  (That was another pinterest project that just didn’t work out for our circumstances.)  The post I read stated that you can yield 100 pounds of potatoes from just one pound of planted spuds.  We love to grow our own food and we knew we would be moving and it could be transportable so it seemed like a great idea.

First we picked up some organic potato planters at the local grow store and cut them into 1 or 2 inch chunks, making sure to leave “eyes” on each chunk.  For experimentation sake, we also left some of them whole.  We then let them sit out on a cookie sheet in a bright room but not in direct sunlight to get them to sprout for about 2 weeks.

We started with our 55 gallon trash can and drilled holes all up and down the bin to make sure there would be plenty of good drainage for watering.  Next, we filled the bottom with about 6 inches of gravel/rock so that the dirt would not get soggy on the bottom.  The next layer was 6 inches of top soil mixed with compost.  My boys loved helping with this step.

Next we put a layer of planter potatoes leaving a few inches of space all around each piece.  Finally, we covered those with another 2 inches of soil and watered them well.

It took about two weeks to see the plants sprout up but once they did they just took off.  Each time the plants got about 6 inches we filled in another 3 inches of dirt until eventually the whole bin was full of dirt.  The idea is that you get potatoes to grow all throughout the bin this way.  The plant on top was looking beautiful and luscious.  I wish I had a picture to show you but I apparently forgot to take one!

Then we moved.  We didn’t just move, we moved to the mountains where the air was thin and dry and the sun was harsh and the nights got cold.  Too cold.  Our poor potato plant just didn’t know what hit it.  We want to do another one next year and try to account for our climate.  I think we shocked our potatoes.
Even still, though the plant died after we moved, we were able to harvest about 1 and a half pounds of new potatoes.  The kids had a great time digging through the bin and finding potatoes.  We were able to have one meal with our roasted potato babies!   

Here’s to a large crop next year!

Have you ever tried a potato bin?  What are your tips and tricks?

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