Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > April 2014 > BONNIES GARDEN--Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe

BONNIES GARDEN--Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe

Potatoes, like the tomato and pepper, are member of the Solanaceae or Nightshade family.  And, like tomatoes and peppers, are New World natives—native to Peru and Bolivia where they were domesticated more than 7,000 years ago.  They were introduced to Europe in the mid-sixteen hundreds.  Within a few decades they were one of the most important food crops.

For a number of years there were only one or two varieties being grown and this lack of diversity meant that if a disease attached one variety, it pretty well wiped out the entire crop.  This is what happened between 1845 and 1852 in Ireland during the Great Potato Famine.  A disease called Potato Blight wiped out most of Ireland’s potato crop.  More than 20% of Ireland’s population migrated to America because they lost everything.

Today, potatoes are the world’s fourth largest food crop, behind corn, wheat and rice.  China and India, between them, are responsible for one-third of the world’s potato production.  However, they are easy enough to grow right in your own backyard.

To grow your own potatoes, plant seed potatoes in a six-inch deep trench, spaced 12” apart, in full sun.  Cover with four inches of soil.  After the foliage is six inches tall, make “hills” about each plant to the bottom of the first set of leaves.  Continue to “hill” until the plants start blooming. 

otatoes will survive drought but will produce smaller and fewer potatoes so regular watering is beneficial.  One inch of water once a week is sufficient.

Feed regularly until mid-summer, then stop.  Late season feeding can induce top growth at the expense of the developing potatoes.  Late summer or early fall, the plants will begin to die back, indicating that the potatoes have matured.  You can leave the potatoes in a couple of weeks longer if you wish, but dig before a hard frost or if we’re having a warm damp fall.  When digging, discard any tubers that are green as they are not edible. 

Potatoes are a good source of potassium.  One medium potato, with skin, has nearly 20% of the recommended daily allowance—more than a banana.  Potatoes also contain more vitamin C than a tomato and moderate amounts of vitamin B6, iron, and fiber.  They contain traces of thiamine, riboflavin, folates, and magnesium—all for 110 calories and no fat, sodium or cholesterol—unless you French fry them!

Posted: 4/21/2014 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: BonniePega, Bonnie'sGarden
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