How to Grow Potatoes in a Garbage Can
What could be simpler than growing your own pesticide-free potatoes in a garbage can? Maybe growing 2 different varieties in 2 different cans!
I saw this idea in Sunset magazine probably 15 years ago and have always wanted to do it - now more than ever as we have very limited backyard space and the terrain is not conducive at all to growing potatoes. Potatoes take a lot of space to grow. I have grown them in the ground though and the yield was fantastic, the quality superb. This seems like an excellent alternative for us, as we live in high mountain dessert and our growing season can be frustrating from frost. We also have 2 very huge dogs and dogs and accessible gardens are a tough combination.
WHAT YOU NEED TO GROW YOUR OWN POTATOES
It is recommended to start these potatoes around St. Patrick's Day but in some climates, April or May is preferred. Seed potatoes can be purchased at any garden center or nursery and are relatively inexpensive. The 'recipe' says that just planting one batch will yield an entire trash can full of potatoes by fall.
- Clean 30-32 gallon plastic or metal garbage can with lid
- Drill and a 1/2 inch drill bit
- Seed potatoes (you can use regular potatoes but most are treated to prevent sprouting so seed potatoes are recommended to give the most yield)
- Potting soil - good quality that will drain well - 1 large bag (3 cubic feet)
- 1 cup per can of fertilizer of the 5-10-10 variety - you want lower nitrogen content as higher nitrogen content will give you lots of leaves but fewer potatoes
- Compost, organic preferred - we buy ours in bags from the local feed store
One Variation on Planting
- Drill holes in the bottom of the trash can to make sure you have proper drainage
- Also drill a few holes in the outside walls of the trash can about 3-6 inches from the bottom to encourage good drainage as without proper drainage, the potatoes will rot quickly
- Place about 2/3 of the bag of potting soil into the can and mix with 1 cup of fertilizer
- Seed potatoes that are small can go in 'as is' (should have at least 3 eyes). Larger seed potatoes should be cut with no less than 3 eyes per piece. (The eye is that spot where the roots will start to grow out). Roughly use 4 'starts' per can or 4 portions of potato so you don't need a lot
- Let the cut sides of the seed potatoes dry out before planting
- Plant the seed potatoes in the potting soil/fertilizer mix about 5 inches apart and then cover with the remainder of the potting soil
- Place your trash can in an area that receives about 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. If there is danger of frost, you can put the lid on the trash can at night but remember to take it off come morning or the plants may die
- Water thoroughly - you want the soil to remain moist at all times but not soggy while they grow. If the soil dries out, it will make the potatoes have a funny shape
- On really hot days, check and recheck the soil to make sure it is staying moist and it probably will need to be watered at least daily - move the plants to a shadier location if excessive heat
- You will be able to see the plants start to come up through the soil. As the plants start to grow taller, now add compost around the stems but keep the leaves uncovered
- As they grow a little more, add more compost - same as above. By the end of the growing season for the potatoes, you should be able to fill the rest of the can with compost, but always keep the leaves exposed
- Again, keep watering and make sure the soil stays moist at all times though not soggy
- In the fall, you will have flowers that begin to fade away and grow things that resemble berries. If you reach into the can and harvest a few potatoes, they will be small new potatoes - but eat them shortly after harvesting as they spoil more rapidly
- Add more compost or cover the stems back up and after the green of the plant has started to dry up and die back, that means that it is time to harvest
- Get a tarp and simply dump the soil of the trash can out onto the tarp and harvest your potatoes!
- Store in a cool place. Recycle the soil from the trash into a flower garden - do not use it to regrow vegetables but it is fine for flower gardens after harvesting
A Second Variation on Planting
- The preparation of the trash can is the same as far as drilling holes is concerned. This version is a layered version and goes like this:
- Layer 1 - Place a layer of shredded newspaper or shredded junk mail. This supposedly keeps the soil in from draining out the bottom when watering. It also keeps the soil moist
- Layer 2 - Put in 3-4 inches of potting soil or garden dirt. The author of this method claims that you can even grow the potatoes without the dirt and that this layer is optional
- Layer 3 - Add pieces of cut potato that have eyes. Use 1 or more inches of potato behind and around the eye to provide plant nourishment. This author uses store-bought potatoes and finds that they work - so add either seed potatoes here or store-bought cut to the appropriate dimensions above
- Layer 4 - Cover the potato pieces with about 2-3 inches more of shredded newspaper or shredded junk mail, straw, peat moss, or whatever is available such as compost or dirt. Water until you see water coming out of the drain holes. You must never let layer 1 become dry! It is also important by this method not to let the potatoes sit in soggy conditions.
- Layer 5 - After the potatoes grow to 2-4 inches above the last layer, cover the plants leaving leaves exposed with more shredded paper, newspaper, straw, peat moss, compost and/or dirt - make sure 1 inch of plants is showing. Continue to do this until the plants are growing taller than the container or trash can and then add sticks so that they will not fall over and break the plants
Points To Remember
- You want an environment that is moist but not soggy - while seedlings are growing, cover with the lid at night to protect from cold but remove lid during the day
- Some people add a little dirt with the newspaper or straw layers
- Some people add fertilizer - the author claims to have grown potatoes without fertilizer and they grew just fine
- Add wheels to the bottom of the trash can for ease in moving
- When you see potato flowers, that is when you can harvest some 'new' potatoes
- When the flowers start to fade and the stalks turn to yellow, then die down, your potatoes will be ready to harvest - at end of summer/early fall
- You should have a full trash can full of potatoes - just pour out onto a tarp and harvest. Dispose of the trash and store in a cool, dry place
In summary, I think I may combine both of these ideas and see how it turns out. I think I will make a bottom layer of shredded paper or newspaper to assure that the soil does not leak out and then proceed with the dirt and compost variation though I may mix in some shredded newspaper, paper and straw to create more air and space within the trash can.
I plan on using some of the fertilizer on mine as long as it is a good organic fertilizer and will use potting soil and compost that are clean or organic if possible.
This idea supposedly also works in other containers but for ease of use and portability, etc. I think the trash can sounds like a winner. Also putting wheels under it for easy moving on extremely hot days sounds perfect.
You can purchase seed potatoes in several varieties as well. This does take the land requirement out of growing your own organic potatoes and it seems like a relatively easy way to do it! I dug potatoes last fall and they lasted us through the entire winter. They were delicious but were a lot of hard work to dig. They also were pretty expensive though well worth the effort and the price in taste and quality.
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Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 01, 2017:
It's a totally cool way to grow them - have grown them in the ground as well. It was so easy on the cleanup too!
Linda L Paquette from New Hampshire/ Massachusettes on November 01, 2017:
Great article and I am going to try this next spring. We always grew potatoes on the farm when I was a kid, but always in the ground not trash cans. Now with limited space Iam going to try this and see what happens. Thank you for this!
eilval on June 07, 2016:
Wonderful step-by-step pointers how to grow potatoes. like the idea of the trash can .... i've been inspired to try this method!
Eugene Brennan from Ireland on August 26, 2015:
Very useful for those with small or non existent gardens. I grew 3 potatoes in a wheelbarrow this year, but unfortunately they only produced golf ball sized spuds. Probably because I forgot to water the barrow, and it also got smothered by vegetation in the wilderness part of the garden. It was very mobile though!
Will share on Pinterest and Twitter!
LaniK from Minnesota on October 13, 2011:
This is so interesting! I'm bookmarking this, I'd like to try it.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 12, 2011:
Vocalcoach - so glad you are getting a kick out of my hubs~ I've posted a few more on the Internet as I've learned a few tricks along the way - if you see gnats or anything, buy an eco-friendly spray (oil based or citrus usually) and kill those buggers~ Mine are doing awesome this year and can't wait until summer's end for the harvest!!
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on June 12, 2011:
Another hub to add to my collection, and what a fantastic hub it is! Forwarding this on to family and getting started on thiss right away. Another big thanks to you, Audrey. I am a huge fan! UP, UP and UP!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 04, 2011:
Thanks for the read jmscooper and rihsam10 - appreciate you stopping by.
rihsam10 on June 03, 2011:
jmscooper04 on May 24, 2011:
Nice post..it's a great idea..!I will try this at home..thanks for giving enough information on how to plant potatoes in a garbage can.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 05, 2011:
Florist - good luck~! It's a neat way to grow them that's for sure.
florist on April 05, 2011:
Great hub, I never thought of growing potatoes in a garbage Can,someone said they even tastes better, will try it definitely.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 04, 2011:
mlj - Thanks so much for your WONDERFUL analogy of what happens sometimes. That happened to be last year too and I can't figure it out either. I got more potatoes than you did but they were doing wonderfully and then stalled out. I could find no bugs - so I'm thinking it was the watering. My hubby would go out and water and water thinking they must be dry --or it could be the paper shred as you say. I have a batch of seedling potatoes and I'm starting out shortly - I'm going to try to do 2 batches and see which one works - with the shred and without - but my husband is forbidden to water them....ever! I told him I'd take the responsibility of seeing to it!! Hope you try it again and if you do...come back and lend me your news! Also if you do the sweet potatoes - I may try that at the same time. Just need to find a window in my day to get them planted. I also will try and take pics and post them up this time!
mlj on April 03, 2011:
ok, so i just "harvested". from 3 original whole small red potatoes, i got one big one, 4 medium, and 8 or so ones a little smaller than ping pong balls. enough for a meal for two. i started with a busted up black plastic trashcan, put a layer of shred in the bottom, put a cubic foot-ish of purchased organic compost in, placed 3 store bought organic red potatoes burrowed into the dirt (tried a bunch of nurseries, but on oahu no one seems to carry seed potatoes), and layered on 4 inches or so of shred. if it didn't rain for a couple days, i watered it. the plants shot up to the top of the trashcan in maybe 4 weeks. they seemed to stall right below the rim of the trash can and grow no more. eventually i saw a couple flowers form but never really bloom. a month later the plants had pretty much shriveled up.
i kept them in all day sun and day time temps are around 83 here with nighttime dropping to a cool 68 on a quite cold night.
my harvest was less than impressive. the potatoes that formed, formed right above the starter potatoes -so pretty much right on top of the dirt. no more potatoes grew up the approximately 24 inch tall stems.
so, in sum, not sure what went wrong. 1 theory: the paper shred was not so good. there was no root system or potatoes to be found in that layer. a second theory: something caused the plant to die off prematurely, like over or under watering or disease. i saw no signs at all of a bug problem. a third theory: nobody seems to be growing potatoes in hawaii (sweet potatoes are another story), and there is a good reason why, namely temperature.
hope this info helps somebody else. it was a fun experiment all in all. i may repeat it with either all soil or mix the shred in with soil. the problem is that soil doesn't come cheap in hawaii and there is a point where it just makes more sense to buy the potatoes. i may also try sweet potatoes in a trash can.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 16, 2011:
Jetta17- I totally agree with you - it is SO cool to grow them this way and I agree that seed potatoes are the way to go! I'm going to be doing several varieties this year. We only did 1 this last year to see how they would do in our climate and I'm wishing I'd done more!
jetta17 on February 16, 2011:
This is truly the best way to grow potatoes. I have grown potatoes in trash cans for a couple years now to free extra space in the garden. Seed potatoes are the way to go. I've found that even organic potatoes from the store will never produce as much yields as the actual seed potatoes. Great Hub, I'll be following
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 12, 2011:
Dr Irum - Thanks for commenting - and they even taste fantastic!
Dr irum on February 12, 2011:
Very nice gardening tips to grow own potatoes in a garbage can .Thats very nice idea if we have little space .
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 25, 2011:
Thanks very much for stopping by, Bob - it is a lot of fun!
bob9125 from United States on January 25, 2011:
Great hub! I will keep the idea in mind.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 08, 2011:
Cool etherealenigma - it's a great time of year to start hoping and dreaming about working outside! Thanks for reminding me!
Sandra M Urquhart from Fort Lauderdale on January 08, 2011:
Very cool. I'm getting such great ideas here on hubpages for my upcoming garden. Thanks.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 06, 2011:
Eatlikenoone - It really is a great way to do potatoes and everyone gets to interested in it. The neighbors thought it was quite entertaining and they are thinking of doing it as well now!
eatlikenoone from Saline, MI on January 06, 2011:
Very interesting ideas here. I will be referring back to this hub when I begin my growing season. I want to grow potatoes this year, but I wasn't sure how I was going to do it because my soil is hard and full of clay.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 20, 2010:
Thanks chspublish for stopping in~ I used to grow them in the backyard years ago and I loved them but you are right - lots of space and took a long time to grow them. Then when I got dogs and BIG dogs, it just became impossible so this totally works for me! I will write a hub on the sweet potatoes or other things I decide to try in the spring!
chspublish from Ireland on December 20, 2010:
Great hub about the pratai (irish for potatoes). I always wanted to try this, but I nvever had enough information to give it ago, until your hub came along with its great detail and information. Can't wait till next March to begin. Potatoes do take up a lot of space and a long time, relatively speaking, to grow. So this is a very space saving idea and plan. Will wait to see how you get on with the sweet potato. Thanks.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 14, 2010:
Thanks for stopping by happydogs - I'm going to try it with sweet potatoes I think next year. It truly does work and it's just an awesome space saver.
happydogs from Treasure Coast, Florida on November 14, 2010:
Interesting hub! I have never heard of anyone growing potatoes in a garbage can before.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 14, 2010:
Thanks for stopping by, Die'Dre' - it is a wonderful way to grow stuff and feel like you are really growing! I love all parts of gardening but our climate here makes it a bit of a challenge. Glad you liked it!
Die'Dre' from The Great Pacific Northwest on November 14, 2010:
This is a GREAT hub, packed with information. I can't wait to grow potatoes next garden season. I'm now preparing my LITTLE garden for winter, and miss gardening already. This garbage can method will expand my gardening space. Thanks much.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 03, 2010:
Thanks for stopping by, Katie and it turned out awesome this year for us. They were delicious!
Katie McMurray from Ohio on October 03, 2010:
I love the idea of gardening in a garbage can. I will be using this as I have a small garden space and this is a great way to have your potatoes and grow them to! Thanks for how to grow you own potatoes in a garbage can. It's so cool! :)
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 21, 2010:
Thanks Indoor Greenhouse Guy for stopping in. It really is a super efficient way to grow things without much space.
Indoor Greenhouse Guy on August 21, 2010:
Great hub, thanks for the tips! I grow a lot of produce indoors but I've never thought of trying potatoes. I haven't got a great deal of room but this is a great sounding technique that doesn't take up your whole back yard! I'm going to give it a go and see what happens. Thank you!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 07, 2010:
Wayne - Thanks for the read! It really does work - have my one can out in the front yard and just waiting to be able to dump them out and store them away. Next year, gonna do at least 2 and maybe an extra one with sweet potatoes if I confirm that they'll grow that way. I haven't grown things in quite some time except herbs and a few tomatoes so it's been a fun 'project'~!
Wayne Brown from Texas on August 07, 2010:
Interesting stuff...we may all need to grow our own stuff again some day if things keep going as such! Thanks for a very well presented subject and an enjoyable read! WB
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 28, 2010:
Lamme - Try it - it is SO awesome! I can hardly wait to harvest them. I have grown them in the ground but this is a great space saving way to grow them - and keep them from my malamutes' chomping teeth!
Lamme on July 28, 2010:
Wow, I always wanted to grow potatoes but never thought I could do it. This sounds like a great way to try! Thanks.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 20, 2010:
Thanks for stopping in, Sonny! I'm going to try more than 1 variety next year and some sweet potatoes or yams if I can....thanks for reading!
SONNY SIROIS from Fort Fairfield, Maine on July 20, 2010:
This is REALLY neat. I'm going to try this for next growing season - may try carrots Thanks for sharing!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 01, 2010:
Dgicre - I should have thought of that! Great idea. I just bought some styrofoam ice chests at the Dollar Tree and made up some little containers for growing beets, carrots and turnips to keep away from my malamutes but next year will have to do the galvanized troughs although will have to put them in the front yard most likely!
dgicre from USA on July 01, 2010:
Great info Kim, this year I bought some galvanized cattle water troughs, poked holes in the bottom and filled with really good dirt. My garden is doing great!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 15, 2010:
Thanks, Kim - it actually is sitting outside right now percolating away....it is a totally awesome way to grow potatoes.
kims3003 on June 15, 2010:
Great hub with lots of good information A+!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 05, 2010:
Super - I actually used paper in the bottom but then decided to add potting soil just because it sounded 'too weird'....but do follow up and let me know if sawdust works!
Rebecca on June 05, 2010:
has any one tried the paper, my work has tons, I think I may try that, I will have to follow up. I know of some one who is using sawdust. It's their first time though
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 22, 2010:
Thanks so much for stopping by Deborah! Good luck with it and I hope it works really, really great.
Deborah Demander from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on May 22, 2010:
I am just getting ready to plant potatoes for the first time, and was wondering how. And then I found you. Thanks for a great hub.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 06, 2010:
Yes they do - that would be a perfect setting for growing these - thanks so much for commenting!
Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on May 06, 2010:
Interesting hub! I never knew spuds could be grown like this! I would love to have my own garden. Apartments have their limitations.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 13, 2010:
Super - it makes sense for us folks with little to no space for gardening. Thanks so much for commenting.
Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on April 13, 2010:
My husband loves growing veggies. We stay in a town house now so he loves this idea of growing potatoes in a trash can. He is going to try it.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 06, 2010:
I know - I love them homegrown but since 'dog days' with giant paws, we have not been able to plant them in the ground (and lack of space to be honest because most of our backyard sits on a huge slope). It seems so simple I have to believe it will work like a charm! That is if we ever get above freezing (although today is actually supposed to be 'nice' - we shall see)! Thanks for commenting, Holle!
Holle Abee from Georgia on April 06, 2010:
I've grown plenty of "taters," but never in a garbage can!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 18, 2010:
Thanks so much for commenting, febriedethan and hope you have a fine yield!
febriedethan from Indonesia on March 17, 2010:
Wow..I love this, and have already bookmarked it. I will try it, since I got many of garbage cans, thank you for sharing! Have a great day!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 13, 2010:
Thanks! I thought it sounded so cool as well and know it works because other folks have said they did it or variations of it.....so gotta try it too.
vegetablegarden from New England on March 13, 2010:
With all my years of gardening this is one I haven't tried. Thanks for the great info and the inspiration. Can't wait to give it a try.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 02, 2010:
That is a neat memory to bring to mind so glad I could help -I think generations before us were so much better at using everything and doing things in such a good, clean, conservative way. This method does appeal to me because it is some way that I can get back to growing things which I love and do it with the space (and malamutes) that I have! Thanks so much for commenting.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2010:
This brought back memories of my grandfather's potato "hollow"...an area where each year while living in the countryside of Wisconsin he grew loads of potatoes and also sunflowers. The regular garden was up closer to the house. We had root cellars where the potatoes and carrots and onions would last all year until the next harvest. Thanks for the memories!
As to growing them in a can...inventive way to do it for someone with little space.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 26, 2010:
The carbs thing I'm not sure -think we are stuck with them but the methodology for growing them works. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on February 26, 2010:
I love fresh new potatoes and will try this method or the one about Texas. Now, how do you get the carbs out of them?
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 15, 2010:
It works really well for small spaces and folks like me who still want to grow something. Thanks for tagging me. Audrey
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on January 15, 2010:
Nice tips and easy to follow. Thanks for this information. It useful for me. I'll start to plant. thanks
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 14, 2010:
That's what I say, too - my hubby stores hoses and sleeping bags sometimes and even soccer balls in plastic trash cans but think he's gonna be losing a couple this year! I really like the idea of being able to turn them out because I've grown them in the ground before and they truly do take up a lot of room - but they were SOOOO delicious! Wish I had more yard but then I'm sure my mals would still shoot me in the foot by the time I was done with it!
Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on January 14, 2010:
Pretty interesting, whodahthunkit? I'm not sure whatever's been in my old garbage cans would make good tasting potatoes! But I love the idea of recycling and using a container you already have laying around, great article!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 11, 2010:
There are 2 ways of doing it if you'll notice and you can decide to use or not to use the soil - if you use the soil - it is 3 cubic feet per trash can. You can also buy a roller thing for the bottom so that the weight won't matter - but if you use no soil and you use paper filler, then it would be lighter. I have no idea in terms of pounds how much it would weigh but just because we have variable weather where we live, will spend the extra and put a roller thing under it just in case. As to the cost of the spuds....even with falling prices - I prefer organic and I prefer to know what goes into what I grow if it is at all possible and since you end up paying about 3-4 times MORE for organic things or relatively untreated fruits and vegetables, I'm thinking I have to come out on top with this! Thanks for stopping by.....I am sure too it all depends on what variety of potatoes you plant as to weight and how much soil you use, how wet it is, etc.....
Hi-Jinks from Wisconsin on January 11, 2010:
As you are planting these potatoes, how much soil (cost) do you use per "pot?"
Are you saving money when potatoes by the end of the season are going for 10 cents a pound?
Also how heavy is the garbage can?
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 11, 2010:
That I'm not sure of but it gets down to 30's here at night in the summer and I think it says that if you just put the lid on in terms of low temps and then take it off when it warms back up.....I'm gonna give it a try but I know living in high mountain dessert we are going to have to be very vigilant about lid on/lid off! Audrey
LeonJane from Australia on January 11, 2010:
Thanks for this hub, I'll have to try and find potatoes that can grow in a winter heat of 15 degrees C (60 degrees F) and a summer of 35 degress C (95 degrees F). Maybe I am best sticking to sweet potatoes (yams).
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 11, 2010:
Thanks ladies....I usually do herbs too and last year did tomatoes and even squash and lettuce but decided this was the year I'm going to try the trash can potatoes although will have to move them to the side of our yard away from the gigantor puppy! I'll have to post a followup after I do it this time. Audrey
suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on January 10, 2010:
Great Hub as usual. I'm going to try this this year.
Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on January 10, 2010:
Wow! this is so interesting. And you did a great job writing this hub! I love container gardens; only I usually just grow herbs. But thanks for this.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 10, 2010:
Exactly! I just added those seeds because I guess they are the 'new wave' - but I'm going to go buy the seed potatoes themselves. The one author says you can use store bought but they supposedly are treated so I'm going to go with the seed potatoes in chunks and see what happens - I saw that thing on the garbage bag too so may just try both! I am totally with you on the food sources. The frightening part is that we don't know HALF of what is in our food so I'm all about growing whatever I can as organically as I can with whatever space I can make and keep my dogs from eating it! Thanks again for stopping by....Audrey
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on January 10, 2010:
Brilliant! And it does work. Maybe I read the same Sunset mag about 15 or so years ago - so I tried it in a garbage bag - and grew a few perfect potatoes.
You know what - we can probably grow far more (healthy) food that we know. We are so far removed from our food supply - which has been seriously corrupted.
I didn't use seeds - my instructions said to cut off the eyes of healthy potatoes. It is important to go organic as mentioned. Right now unless we buy organic potatoes, all others are heavily sprayed.
Thanks for this great and very thorough hub - you've covered it all!