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Homeschool Garden Club - Potatoes

Potatoes were first grown by the Incas in Peru between 8000 and 5000 BC ago. Potatoes provided the main source of food energy for vast areas of the Andean empire. they mashed, baked, bolides and stewed just as we do today. The also used them for medicine, believing them to help prevent rheumatism, indigestion and to treat marks on the face.

The Spanish conquistadors, who conquered Peru in the 1530’s, took the tubers home to Spain. Sir Walter Raleigh introduced the potato to Ireland in 1589, but it was nearly 40 years before it reached the rest of Europe.

At first, they were view with suspicion and thought to be poisonous. People soon came to realised potatoes contained many of the essential vitamins required for good health.

Potatoes contain lots of important minerals and vitamins. As long as you don’t fry them, they’ll give you lots of energy and keep you healthy. Potassium: Keeps your heart healthy and helps plenty of blood to get to your brain. Vitamin C: Protects the cells in your body and boosts your immune system. B6: Reduces stress. If you play a lot of sport, your body needs to replace the electrolytes that you lose through sweat. Potato skins are full of them! The skins are also good for fibre which keeps your digestive in tip top condition.

If you want to grow potatoes, you’ll need to think about your favourite type and how you want to cook them. Do you prefer baked potatoes, mash, roast or chips? Do you like chunky wedges or baby new potatoes with butter? There are lots of different types to choose - you should plant the ones you most like to eat.

Here are some of our suggestions:

  • New potatoes: ‘Charlotte’

  • Mashed potatoes: ‘Desiree’

  • Baked potatoes: ‘Rooster’

  • Roasted potatoes: ‘King Edward’

  • Chips: ‘Maris Piper’

Potato really easy to grow potatoes in bags or containers? You don’t need a big garden or lots of tools to do it. Now is the time to think about planting potatoes.

You will need:

  • Seed potatoes (also called tubers) Please buy these from the garden centre and don’t use the ones from the supermarket.

  • Several large 8 litre potato bags or containers

  • Multipurpose compost

Put your seed potatoes in an empty egg box on a sunny windowsill, this is called chitting. Soon little shoots will appear at one end. When the shoots are about 2.5cm long, the seed potatoes are ready to plant.

Fill your potato bag or container with compost. Carefully push one seed potato down into the compost with the shoots end facing upwards. It will need to be at least 15cm deep.

Gently cover the seed potato with compost and give it some water. Move your bag or container to a warm place where you can keep an eye on it. Potatoes like lots of sun.

Water regularly - don’t let the soil get too dry. Make sure that the potatoes are always covered by soil as they grow. If they get too much sun the potatoes gets green and becomes poisonous. When flowers appear, or the leaves start to turn yellow, your potatoes are ready.

Tip the container out and find your spuds! Turning them out in to a wheelbarrow to make it easier to work through.


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