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A large wooden bowl full of colorful potatoes. Some are purple, red, yellow with pink spots, and plain yellow. They are separated by color.
All Things Garden,  Grow Guides

How to Grow Potatoes in Containers (Grow Bags)

Nothing beats homegrown potatoes! I mean, that can be said about pretty much all organic homegrown produce… but homegrown potatoes are somethin’ special. No grocery store potato can even come close to the rich, earthy, creamy, complex flavor profile of a homegrown spud. The great news is, they’re also quite easy to grow! With the right conditions, you can be harvesting and enjoying your own homegrown potatoes in no time too!

Read along to learn how to grow potatoes in containers, including their soil needs, sunlight, water, and temperature preferences. We’ll also discuss options for obtaining potato seed, and how properly to prepare it for planting.

There are several ways to grow potatoes, such as in hills in the ground, in a raised bed, inside a wire fence cylinder, or even trash cans! Most of the tips and information I will share here today can be applied to any growing style. We personally love to grow potatoes in fabric grow bags because of their excellent drainage, mobility, ability to control the soil condition and moisture, and ease for harvest. The ones we love and use are very durable, and can be reused for years and years!

At the end of this post, check out the video about how to grow potatoes that goes along with it!


  • Seed Potatoes
  • Soil –  Rich, loose, well-draining, and acidified if possible
  • Container(s) – We use 15-gallon or 20-gallon grow bags. They can be used to grow food even in the most limited garden spaces!
  • A sunny location
  • Consistent water
  • Optional: Straw

Let’s start with the part that makes the rest possible: seed potatoes.

Seed Potatoes

You can either buy potatoes that are specifically sold as seed, or try your hand at sprouting and growing store-bought potatoes. Generally, you’ll have the most guaranteed success with seed potatoes. They’re grown specifically for this task, and are certified to be disease-free. They often times even come slightly pre-sprouted for you! You will also have more options to find and grow unique varieties that way.  

Some places we have bought seed potatoes over the years include High Mowing Seeds, Seeds Now, Peaceful Valley, Territorial Seed, Johnny’s, and Irish Eyes. We also sometimes see them at our local garden center or nursery!

NOTE: Most places will sell out of seed potatoes by spring! It is important to order your potatoes in the winter to ensure you get some, or you may be left with slim pickings.

A hand holds up a sprouting seed potato. It is wrinkly, small, and slightly purple. The sprouts sticking out the top are purple and green, fuzzy, and lit up by the sun in the background.

There are dozens, even hundreds, of different potato varieties to choose from! Spuds can vary in size, shape, color, texture, flavor,  best use, and time to harvest. Read through the seed potato descriptions to see which variety you may like best! They’ll usually say if that variety is known to be more mealy or crisp, juicy or dry, and which ones are better for storing, mashing, frying, or baking. Speaking of different types…

What are Early, Late, and Mid-Season Potatoes?

When you’re potato seed shopping, you’ll likely see one of these three designations with each variety. Which variety of potato should I choose? To help you decide, here is a brief breakdown of their differences:

Early season potatoes, or “new potatoes” reach maturity within only 75 to 90 days. These could be ready to harvest in early summer, depending on when you planted them. If you are in a climate with very hot summers, choosing early season varieties may be best to beat the heat! Potatoes don’t love temperatures over 80 degrees. Alternately, if you’re shooting to plant a round of potatoes in late summer for a fall harvest, an early-season type may be ready for harvest before the first frost hits.

Early potatoes are least likely get blight, as they’re usually harvested before disease can take hold. However, they don’t last as long in storage. A couple popular early potatoes include Caribe and Norland, but there are many!

Mid-season potatoes, also referred to as “second early” are just a tad longer than earliest types. These ones will be ready to harvest in about 95 to 110 days. Yukon Gold is a widely popular and delicious mid-season potato that grows well in warm climates.

Late-season potatoes, also called “main crop potatoes” are generally finished growing and ready to harvest within 120-135 days, closer to the middle or end of summer. While they take longer to grow, the late-season type are known to last longer in storage as well.  These are said to be best for baking, mashing, and roasting. The earlier varieties are more crisp and tender for pan-frying. Kennebec and Butte are well-known late-season varieties.

If you’re like us and plan to grow several varieties, check out this 4-pack of 20-gallon grow bags! Amazon also has a 5-pack of 15-gallon bags that have handles, which makes moving them around much easier. These bags come in handy for many more crops than just potatoes! We use them for peppers, tomatoes, and others too.

Two image. On the left is looking down on white bowl full of very purple potatoes, cut in half. The bowl is on a tree stump. On the right is a hand holding potatoes up. They're mostly tan in color with purple striping around their eyes.
A few fun ones we have grown in the past: Purple Majesty and Blue Belle.

Grocery Store “Seed”

If you do opt to try to grow from store-bought spuds, here are a few tips: One, most definitely choose organic. Inorganic produce can be treated with chemicals that intentionally inhibit sprouting. That will just thwart your efforts. I would also suggest buying your potatoes well in advance (like months) before you plan to plant them. This will give them plenty of time to soften up and sprout for you, also referred to as “chitting”.

Chit or Get off the Pot

Chitting is the process of encouraging your potatoes to sprout in anticipation for planting. By sprouting them in advance, it gives the potatoes a head start and will result in a more robust harvest!

The chitting process can take 4 to 6 weeks. To chit your potatoes, you may need to first put them in a warm, dark location for a week or two. Around 70 degrees is a good target. This helps them break dormancy – waking them up to allow for sprouting. (This applies to potatoes that are not already starting to sprout.  If they are, skip to the following step.) After that, move them into a slightly cooler area with bright ambient light. Not necessarily in a bright window, but somewhere with exposure to decent light. We set ours on a shelf in a spare room across from a large window.

Five paper bags are flattened on top of a large tray. On top of each paper bag is a little pile of different type of seed potato. They are all sprouting. Some are small and more green, some are large a purple.
Our seed potatoes for 2019: Magic Molly, German Butterball, Huckleberry Gold, and Jelly. I already planted the Red Thumb fingerlings and forgot to take a photo first! They’re the ones I planted during the demo video you’ll find at the end of this post.

When you move them out into the light, take a look at each spud. Determine which side of the potato has the most eyes. The eyes are the little indentation or nubs along the otherwise smooth potato skin. Those eyes are where potential sprouts will emerge from! The portion of the potato with the most concentrated number of eyes is called the “rose end”. Place the seed potato in a position with the rose end facing up, exposed to light. With this treatment, they should begin to sprout shortly.

Again, if you buy seed potatoes from an online seed company, they very well may come sprouted and ready to go!

Cutting seed to create more

Seed potatoes can be cut into smaller portions to create more seed! This isn’t necessary when the seeds are already fairly small, or if you have more than enough on hand already. However, if your seed potatoes are very large and you would like to get even more seed pieces, you might be able to cut them. I say “might” because this depends on the seed and how many eyes it has.

When cutting up a seed potato, ensure that each new piece will still have at least one or two promising eyes once divided. Using a clean knife, cut the larger seed potato in half (or more, depending on size and eyes). It is important that you do this at least several days prior to planting outside! A week or more is even better. The fresh cut sides need time to dry and scab over before being planted. If they’re planted when wet and exposed, you run a great risk of having them rot in the ground!

A large seed potato that is sprouting at two ends, with a knife positioned in the middle of it, showing that it could be cut in half to make two pieces of seed potato.
This is where I could have cut this seed in half – and let it properly dry and scab over for a few days before planting? Like my knife? It’s definitely CutCo.

Planting Timing

Once your potatoes are nice and chitty, they can be planted outside once the soil temperatures have reached at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Another way to determine timing is based on the last frost date for your growing zone. For potatoes, they can be put out as early as two to four weeks before your last frost date. I say “as early as” because you don’t necessarily have to start them then.

In our moderate climate, we are able to start potatoes at various times throughout the year! However, if you live in a place with very hot summers, you will want to start them as early as possible to avoid the hottest part of the summer. Potatoes don’t love extreme heat. We’ll talk more about that soon.

If you aren’t sure about your zone, frost dates, and planting times, refer to the Homestead and Chill planting calendar! If you haven’t gotten yours yet, you can get it immediately via email by subscribing.

Potato Soil Preferences

Rich and Fluffy

The ideal soil for growing potatoes will be rich, full of organic matter, and fluffy. We always add some compost and worm castings in with our potato soil! Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers. Your potatoes will grow large greens but smaller tubers with too much nitrogen present. To help keep the soil from becoming compact, which is not something potatoes enjoy, straw is often used when growing potatoes – to create extra fluff. We’ll talk more about straw below, in the “Care While Growing” section.


Did you know that potatoes love acidic soil? Yep! Most potting soil or garden soil is closer to neutral or just very slightly acidic, with a pH around 6.5 to 7. In contrast, potatoes prefer a pH range of 4.8 to 5.5 to thrive. To accomplish this, you can amend your target soil with horticulture sulfur. Keep in mind that sulfur is generally slow-release, thus, it can take months for the soil to adjust its pH. Using this technique, planning in advance is required!

A few years ago we stumbled across an organic bagged “Acid Planting Mix” soil by G&B Organics, and have been using it to grow potatoes ever since. The pH is already adjusted for us! Furthermore, it is a perfect texture, and has a ton of other great amendments added too – like worm castings and kelp meal.

A bag of soil that says "Acid Planting Mix" is leaned up on a garden cart, that has two large tan fabric grow bags on the top of it. Those bags are being filled with that soil soon. The cart is positioned on a patio area with plants in the background. A hand reaches into the soil and shows it has a fluffy texture.

The fact that potatoes grow well in acidified soil is the one of the biggest reasons we do not grow them in our raised beds. Rather than doing a bunch of pH adjustments to the beds, we’d rather give the spuds their own designated happy place. We use the same soil and treatment for our acid-loving blueberry bushes, who are grown in their own wine barrels.

Unfortunately, I believe G&B Organics is only available on the West Coast. We find it at our local Farm Supply. If your local garden center carries G&B soils but not this mix in particular, ask and see if they can order it in for you! Ours does, at no additional cost. For folks who live elsewhere, keep your eyes out for their “Shade Planting Mix” – which is the equivalent product in their Kellogg Organics line. Your local Home Depot or Lowe’s probably carries it.

If you look around and can’t find an acidic soil, don’t stress over it. Plant them anyways! Acidic soil is said to help them grow better and stronger (and be more disease resistant) but I am sure people grow them okay in regular soil too.


Potatoes like to be evenly and consistently moist, but never soggy. When overwatered or grown in heavy soil, they could rot! Therefore, the soil you use should be able to drain well, but also have good moisture retention. It’s all about balance. This is one of the many reasons we prefer using fabric grow bags! They’re easy to assess and control moisture, and do not become water-logged easily.  If you are using a more solid container, ensure it has plenty of drainage holes!

Planting Your Seed Potatoes

Fill your chosen container about one-third to half-full with the perfect acidified, rich, fluffy soil and compost. The amount will vary depending on the size and depth of your chosen container. The goal is to have enough soil to allow several inches of soil (at least 4-5”) below the seed potatoes, a few inches on top, plus some room to spare to add more soil later as they grow.

Bury sprouted seed potatoes about 3 inches deep in the soil, and about 4 to 5 inches a part. Note that I will put more smaller sized seed potatoes in a bag, and far fewer if they are large. Water thoroughly.

Four images of planting sprouted seed potatoes in grow bags. In one bag, there are more potatoes because they were smaller. About 10 small purple potatoes. In the same size bag, only 5 large sprouted are shown, giving them at lest 4 or 5 inches apart. They're not yet covered by soil, just sitting on top, waiting to be buried. Another photo shown a hand pushing them down in the soil, burying them about 3 inches deep.
Planting seed potatoes, about three inches deep in the soil and 4 or 5 inches apart. Note that I could only fit 5 very large seed potatoes in the same size 20-gallon grow bag, but could fit a few more smaller ones.

Ideal Growing Conditions for Potatoes

Place your potato container in a location that receives full sun. The ideal temperature range to grow potatoes is 50-80°F. If you live in a climate with very hot summers, consider a location with a little late afternoon shade. Also avoid the hottest spots of your garden, like near a south-facing wall or other source of radiant heat.  If you get them started early enough in the season, or grow them in fall instead, this may not be a concern!

Care While Growing


Provide consistent, even, deep moisture. Don’t drown them every day, but don’t let them fully dry out between watering either!

Topping off the container

The foliage portion of potato plants will begin to grow and emerge above the soil line. After they reach at least 6” tall, bury the majority of the exposed green stems with more soil and compost, but still leave a couple inches of the greens exposed on top. Why are we burying the stems as they grow? Because more potato tubers will grow off of the stem that’s buried! Repeat this process over the following several weeks as the foliage continues to grow taller, until your container is full and you cannot add more soil.

When topping off potatoes, we usually add more of the acid planting soil mixed with compost. Sometimes, we add a light layer of straw too. Straw helps keep everything nice and fluffy, the way potatoes like it! If you live an area with rainy summers, I definitely suggest adding a couple “lasagna layers” of straw in with your soil and/or compost to help promote drainage.

You may be able to tell in the photos that we usually start with our grow bags sides rolled down. This way, as the greens first sprout up while the soil level is still low in the bag, the greens still get as much sun as possible. As they grow and we add more soil, compost and straw, we can unroll the sides of the bags as needed – until the whole thing is full to the brim.

Two photos. On the left, a tiny purple green potato sprout is pushing up through straw. On the right, large leafy potato greens are now emerged, in three different fabric grow bags.
Left: the first spud sprout has emerged!
Right: After a good topping off of compost, soil, and straw. The greens were almost a foot tall and exposed prior.
Getting taller! (Please excuse the blurry photo. I snagged it from a video, since I always forget to take photos of the spuds during the growing season) These were about to have their bags unrolled and topped off with soil again.


Potatoes are modestly heavy feeders. Don’t skimp on the compost! We also water them once per month with a dilute seaweed extract, or aerated compost tea from our worm bin. We don’t use all that much “fertilizer” to grow potatoes. As I mentioned, a high-nitrogen fertilizer isn’t recommended for potatoes. However, we may add in a sprinkle of something more mild like kelp meal once or twice while they’re growing.

How to Harvest Potatoes

After a few months of good growth, the potato greens will start to turn yellow and then brown, slowly dying back.  This is a sign that it is close to harvest time! During the time the greens are withering away, the potato tubers are drawing in the last bits of energy and nutrition from them. Meaning, even though the greens look like crap, the potatoes are still growing. You can cut back water at this time, but wait to harvest until it has been at least 2 weeks after the greens have completely died back.

Harvest time. See how died back the greens are? We could have even waited another couple weeks on the 2nd and 5th bag in the line, but the greens were died back enough to go ahead and harvest with the others that were ready.

Potatoes just may be one of my very favorite things to harvest! An additional bonus to growing in containers is that you can just dump them over and start hunting around for spuds! If they’re light enough, that is. We are able to empty our fabric grow bags into a wheelbarrow, making it more comfortable on our backs (hot damn I sound old…) and also easier to dump the soil back into the bags afterwards. This method also reduces accidentally damaging the potatoes, compared to digging them up with a shovel or pitchfork.

A little clip from one of our grow bag – wheelbarrow potato harvests! It’s like digging for treasure!

Storing Potatoes

To be honest, our potatoes never last long enough to worry about long-term storage. We pop them in a paper bag and store them in a cool dark place, like a spare bedroom closet. They always hold up for a couple months without getting soft. By that time, we have usually eaten them all. However, if you kick butt at growing potatoes and have way too many to store in the fridge at once, check out these tips on curing and longer-term storage from Gardeners Supply!

After all that, the best part is yet to come: eating and enjoying the best potatoes you have ever tasted! If you have never had the pleasure of tasting homegrown potatoes, I am super excited for you!

Here is a video about all how to plant and grow potatoes:

Check out our YouTube channel for more videos by clicking here!

Are you ready to go grow some spuds?

What is your favorite way to prepare potatoes? I am a sucker for pan-fried, or mashed – with garden chives on top. One of our favorite potato recipes is this Roasted Two-Bite Garlic & Herb Smashed Potatoes, perfect for the smaller-than-average homegrown spuds! Or, try this drool-worthy, creamy vegan Potato Leek Soup.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and found it helpful! Please feel free to ask questions and pass it on.

This post is proudly supported by Kellogg Organics.

DeannaCat's signature, signed "Keep on Growing"


  • sherice potter

    we’ve only grown them once before a long time ago and it didn’t work so well. so now I’m reading this post to know what i’m doing. I’m just getting mine started for the season. I got some early/mid season varieties so i’m chitting them now.

  • Michelle

    Hello Friends,

    I was wondering about the straw you use for container potato growing. Is it ok to use an organic wheat straw instead of rice straw since the seeds from the straw will not affect anything but the soil in the container? I am having a really hard time finding organic rice straw in my area, SF East Bay Area. Also, did you purchase straw
    online? I appreciate any help you can offer.
    Your new homestead is coming along beautifully! I have been following your progress, you two have a lot of energy!

    Thank you,

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Michelle, I think we just used hay or straw from our local feed store. We haven’t used straw for the past few potato grows as we couldn’t find organic hay/straw and weren’t sure how using products that may have been sprayed with herbicides might affect our crops. I think using organic wheat straw would work out great, the seeds shouldn’t spread to other areas of your garden as long as they don’t blow away in the wind. Thank you for the kind words and for following along on our progress, good luck to you in getting your potatoes going, with or without straw, I think it will work out well!

  • Riley Adams

    Hello, I just purchased my first house and am so excited to start my own little garden! I’ve been glued to your blog for a week reading so many of your posts and taking lots of notes – thank you for being and so thorough and accessible to a total beginner!
    I’m curious, do you practice crop rotation with your potato soil to add back in the needed phosphorous or is it not recommended because the soil is acidic? Do you need to add more high phosphorous fertilizer every time you replant or does your ACT provide enough?

    Thank you❤️

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Riley, congratulations on your new home and that’s amazing you are going to get a garden going! We typically reuse our potato soil since it is more acidic and we just re-amend with our usual amendments (kelp meal, neem meal, alfalfa meal, crab meal) before replanting, the company Down to Earth offers an Acid Lover’s mix which would also be good for re-amending although we typically use less than what they recommend on the package. If you keep your soil healthy and alive, using AACT will definitely help with that, your potatoes should do really well. Good luck getting your garden going and keep us updated on your progress!

    • Cathy

      I am growing potatoes For the first time, and am using grow bags. I know that you are supposed to rotate where you plant potatoes in the garden, but can you reuse the same soil and same grow bags next year? (I mixed my garden soil with peat moss to lower the pH and lighten the soil and I’d hate to just dump it out at the end of the season)

      • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

        Hi Cathy, that is exactly what we do for the most part, we usually amend the bags with some fresh compost at the beginning of the season. Good luck and have fun growing!

  • Lauren

    Hi guys!! I’m whatever comes before a novice gardener but I loved this article and it inspired me to try potatoes this year! I think I’ve been pretty successful because they got huge and looked healthy over the summer. But I live in Wyoming and we’ve already had snow this year so I pulled them inside, determined to harvest them soon. It’s been 4 months since I’ve planted and was expecting them to start turning yellow and then brown but they’re still a deep dark green with a few random dead stalks. I was just wondering if I’m missing something or if it’s really as simple as them needing more time? Most of the reading I’ve done said they were usually ready in 80-100 days. Anyway I was hoping to hear your thoughts! Thanks so much for this blog, its really become my favorite pastime! 😃❤️

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Lauren, it’s great to hear that you are jumping into gardening and have decided to give potatoes a try! We mostly take maturation times with a grain of salt as there can be a number of factors that go into the amount of days a vegetable can take to produce fruit. We have found that when potatoes are ready to harvest, the greens will die all the way back and turn yellow or brown. Potatoes can handle a light frost but anything considered hard is too much for them. If you are getting too late in your season it is best to harvest them and take what you can from them. Next year, you may wish to start a little earlier to ensure your potatoes will be ready to harvest before your cold weather sets in. We’re glad you enjoy the site so much and we appreciate your support, hope that helps and have fun growing!

  • Suzanne Phend

    Hello! Unfortunately in the Midwest we don’t have those awesome soil options available. I want to try to add the acid to my organic soil mix. How far in advance do I need to make my soil amends before planting the potatoes? We plan to use fabric grow bags because we have very heavy/clay mix soil. We love potatoes and never have good yields. Hoping to have some luck this year!!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Suzanne, if using elemental sulfur, it can take up to a couple months for the amendment to acidify the soil as it is a slow process. Here is a good article from Ohio State on how to lower soil pH. Hope that helps and good luck on your future potato harvests!

  • Martina Webb

    Hello and thanks for the great article! Once you harvest your potatoes, can the soil be re-used for potatoes the next year? Or, do you compost it? Would it be “safe” to dump onto an existing vegetable garden bed or would it be a risk to do so. I am thinking of it as a source of disease.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Martina, we usually save our soil for the following season as we typically use acidified soil. It is very easy to over winter the soil as long as you have the space, yet I don’t think of the potato soil to be too much of a source of disease as long as everything was healthy. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Dejah

    Deanna & Aaron, Just curious about how long the potatoes need to cure once they are removed from the soil. I have heard conflicting reports on this and would love to hear your take. We’ve got a big planting bed that became our grand potato experiment and it has produced quite a bit of crop, but the whole curing thing we honestly didn’t know about until more recently. Thanks in advance!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Dejah, that is great to hear you have grown such a large amount of potatoes, congrats! We are never able to commit enough space to grow enough spuds where we need to store them anywhere else but the refrigerator. Anyway, before you harvest the potatoes it is best to not water them for about two weeks. Come harvest time, the University of Nebraska states to store the potatoes between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at a relative humidity of 85 to 95 % for two weeks. Not sure how realistic it is for you to hit those numbers but it is something to shoot for. Once cured, store the potatoes in a dark and cool location for long term storage. Let us know how it works out for you!

  • Sandra Dostalik

    Hi! I’m excited about growing potatoes for the first time this upcoming spring, and I wanted to ask if you could/how you could save more seed potatoes for the following season after growing them? Thanks!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Sandra, you could save the best looking potatoes for planting the following season. Store the seed potatoes in a cool and dark location until you are ready to plant them. However, if you are looking for continued good yields of potatoes it is best to use fresh certified seed stock each year or season. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • dc

    Thank you so much for this post!

    I’m a very newbie gardener, and your blog is very encouraging and inspiring!

    I was wondering if this article applies to Sweet Potatoes, or is it only for “Irish-type” potatoes?

    Thank you so much,

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hey DC, we have yet to grow sweet potatoes but I believe they grow best in warmer weather and need at least three to four months before they are ready to harvest. They will also need plenty of room for their vines to run and spread out. Sweet potatoes are best grown from “slips” which are sprouted pieces of sweet potatoes that may be available at nurseries or online. In all, giving them rich, well draining soil along with adequate water and care should provide good results. Good luck and have fun!

      • Maura

        You have me tempted to try growing potatoes now! What do you do with the soil after you have pulled out the potatoes? Can it be reused?

        • DeannaCat

          Hi Maura – Absolutely! We keep that same acidified soil in the grow bags after harvest (tuck excess aside in a bucket if we don’t need it all when planting the new round of seed potatoes) and continue to use it for many growing seasons. We amend with a little compost to refresh it, sometimes water with compost tea to also feed the soil and potatoes with nutrients, and you could add a little acid lovers fertilizer like this one in the following years. Enjoy!

  • Rebecca

    Hi Deanna! Thanks for the really informative article! Just a question about topping up the grow bags throughout the season – how do you store the soil that’s set aside for the hilling process? Do you amend the whole lot then siphon off half of it to keep in a container somewhere to add back in later? I know it’s probably obvious but I’m trying to get my head around the logistics and where to keep things with limited space as I approach potato season in the southern hemisphere. Thanks!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Rebecca, we store our extra soil on the side of our house. It is also very easy to keep extra soil in storage containers, grow bags etc. You can either amend all of the soil or just amend parts of it as you go. If your space is extremely limited, you could forgo the hilling process and just plant into a full grow bag though your harvest may be impacted. You have the right idea and I am sure you will do great!

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