Wednesday, May 21, 2014


So in the last post, we showed how we grew our sweet potato slips.  This is why we did it, we are hoping to have some sweet potatoes and here is how we planted them about three weeks ago.

The first thing I did was get a galvanized trashcan.  It was already destined to be used as a planter so I had drilled holes in the bottom and around the outside edge. A few of you noticed the cans in the garden pictures when we got the mulch done and wondered why we had them.

I filled up the lower part with one bag (1.5 cubic feet) of organic potting soil.  Total to fill the can was about four cubic feet.

After the first layer, I put a layer of composted soil and manure just to add some nutrients as the roots and potatoes grow downward into the can.

Then I topped it off with more garden soil.  The watering mechanism is a soaker hose that's normally used for trees.  It just happened to fit the top of the can perfectly.  It could be a tiny bit smaller but  we're still hoping that this works just as well.

Lastly, it was just a matter of putting in the sweet potato slips.  I put two in each trashcan container.  Hopefully even if one fails the other will make it.  If they both make it, maybe we'll have twice as many potatoes, ha.

Sweet potatoes growing in galvanized trashcans
OK, so it's not the most attractive set up in the world but hey, if we end up with sweet potatoes, that's all that matters.  We'll keep you updated on their progress over the next few months, they are a long season crop and we've already had them in their containers for a few weeks.

Fingers crossed!


  1. This year I'm trying one sweet potato in a container. But it is my front planter by the door. I figured usually people put in ornamental sweet potatoes, so why can't I put in one that will give me a harvest. I'll see if it succeeds with all the flowers planted around it.

  2. I've heard of this idea for regular potatoes - so your sweet potatoes should also be successful.

    I always started a sweet potato in the spring with my kindergarten class using the sweet potato-in-water-with-toothpicks method - the kids loved watching the roots and then leaves develop. Afterwards, I planted the whole thing in my garden and got a nice crop. I put it by a fence like you did so the vine could climb. I probably should have divided it into individual slips as you did so I'd get a bigger crop.

    Thanks for the step-by-step process with your great pictures.

    Texas Rose

  3. I planted up our car tyres with sweet potatoes a few weeks ago. Topped them off with mostly alpaca poo - the magic ingredient :)

    So far the leaf growth is incredible...

    Regarding the look of the galvanised bins - why not paint them, clad them with sticks, decorate them with yours and 2nd Man's hand and / or footprints using paint or paint leaves on them :)

  4. just found your blog and read with interest how you are growing sweet potatoes, I have grown them for the past few years here in the Uk, although I havent got any going this year as we hope to be moving to our farm very soon, I love the idea of growing them in deep dustbins, I will have to give that a try. :-)

  5. Maybe I am confused, but did you do all that work and buy all that expensive soil for a crop of 8 sweet potatoes? Maybe I am wrong on this, too, but do sweet potatoes require dirt that deep?

    I have a large, white plastic container, 50 gallons that is such a garish color--white. I am going to paint it something cheery with a scene or something. However, I have been planning to paint it for about 5 years and somehow it looks less like a sore thumb each year I procrastinate.

  6. We're doing sweet potatoes in containers this year, too :-) We purchased slips from the nursery, though, because I can never seem to get them to sprout without rotting! My fingers are definitely crossed that it all works out this year...oh how I'd love to have some of our very own sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving! Thanks for the DIY!

  7. Southern potato planters beware! I used this method last year, and when I went to plunge my hand into the soil (to check for the potatoes ), I came back with a hand, wrist and forearm full of unhappy fire ants. They decimated the potatoes too. That loose rich dirt that I worked so hard to achieve was great for them. They also were in ears of corn when I shucked, and hundreds poured out of teeny holes in every tomato. If you have fire ants around, I would recommend judicious use of diatomaceous earth in the garden, if I ever dare to garden again, that's what I will try.

    1. texlady,
      How horrendous. You may have frightened me so that I will never plant anything again. Right now, I have fire ants that need to be eradicated!

  8. The great six degrees of separation! Hey First Man, how you doing? So funny to see your sweet potato planting idea posted on the Facebook page of someone I follow. Small world :)


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