A low fat (when cooked correctly - chips are not low in fat!) staple that is versatile and so easy and rewarding to grow at home.
Sow tubers directly where they are to grow. You’ll achieve better results if you ‘chit’ your potatoes first. To do this, place them in a light area out of direct sunlight for a month or two and the eyes will sprout little shoots. When you plant the tubers, place the shoots facing upwards. If you collect true seeds from a potato crop, these can be planted direct or in punnets.
- Late spring - early summer in sub arctic areas
- Mid spring - early summer in areas with cold winters
- Early spring - early summer in areas with cool winters
- Late winter plantings may sometimes succeed but you have to be careful of frost - they’ll probably survive light frosts but a heavy frost will kill any shoots above the soil surface and the tuber may not have the energy to get any other shoots to the surface - late winter plantings may be worth a try though in years with milder winters
- Mid winter - early spring and mid - late summer in temperate areas
- Late summer - late winter in warm arid, subtropical and tropical areas
- Midsummer too in subtropical areas
Potatoes are typically ready for harvest between 16 and 20 weeks after sprouts appear. You can bandicoot the plants (dig around the outer edges of the plant for new potatoes that haven't yet formed their skin) earlier than this if you want.
Potatoes can be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted or deep fried. You can make chips, add them to soups and casseroles, mash them to make shepherd's pie or bangers and mash or, stuff them with a range of fillings or use them to make potato salad. The highest nutrient concentrations are in the skin so avoid peeling them if you can, scrub the dirt off instead.
Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin B6, fibre and potassium. They contain small amounts of protein some of which helps to protect them when they are stored and has been found to have antioxidant properties. Potatoes also contain phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that act as antioxidants.
- In the ground
- In boxes filled with sand