I did the garbage can in a hole in the ground thing this winter for potatoes and it worked really well!
I dug a hole a bit bigger than the can cause I didn't want to mash dirt into every crevice of it in case it didn't work and I wanted to take the can out and fill the hole back in. I also didn't drill any drainage or air circulation holes for the same reason. I put the can in the hole, a layer of fist to double fist-sized rocks in the bottom of the can, then layered straw and potatoes to the top. The rocks were to keep the potatoes from sitting in condensation that drained to the bottom. The size of the rocks was to keep them from wicking water up into the straw.
I stuffed a lot of straw around the top foot or so of the can, between it and the edges of the hole. The lid of the can is six inches or so below the ground, and I spread loose straw all over the top of it as well. Then I stuffed straw into two of those paper leaf bags, tied them up so the straw wouldn't leak out, and laid them over the hole.
I made a three-walled enclosure around it with pallets and roofed the enclosure with a pallet as well - a plywood one so the roof was solid. Then I draped a bunch of lumber wrap over it and down the open side to keep snow out. Chunks of wood held the wrap down on the ground and on the pallet.
When I wanted potatoes, I'd clear whatever snow I needed to from the front and flip the lumber wrap up over the roof to access the interior. The bags of straw were nice and light, so I could just pile one on the other and shove them to the back of the enclosure. I had a one by six on the front edge of the hole so I could kneel there without crumbling the edge of the hole. So, kneel on the board, clear loose straw from lid, open lid, collect potatoes. Replace lid and loose straw. Replace bags of straw and close opening.
Really easy. Took me a day of unorganized, off and on labour to make.
I'm still pulling perfect, unsprouted potatoes out. I actually just planted some of them! I haven't got to the very bottom, and the straw is getting a bit damp so I may find moldy potatoes at the bottom. I'll report back.
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