Potatoes

Potatoes are a vegetable that is also one of the most energy-giving foods there is. This is because of the starch and carbohydrates in potatoes. Potatoes are also a versatile food. This means they can be eaten many different ways. You can eat:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Riced potatoes
  • French fries
  • Fried potatoes
  • Scalloped potatoes
  • Potatoes Au gratin
  • Potato soup
  • Potato chips
  • Potato pancakes
  • Gnocchi
  • Hash brown potatoes
  • Pierogies
  • Potato salad

How to grow potatoes

  • They are a root crop. This means that the edible part of the plant is the part that grows under the dirt. In fact, it is VERY dangerous to eat the green tops of the potato plant or potato skins that are green. These things contain chemicals that are poisonous and toxic.
  • They need lots of sunshine. One reason they need the sun is because the soil needs to be warm for them to grow their very best.
  • They also need loose soil that isn’t too wet or too dry. They need loose soil because the potato cannot grow as big if the soil is packed tight.
  • They need moisture too—not too much, though. If the ground is too wet, the potatoes will rot in the ground.
  • Potatoes plants are started from the buds or ‘eyes’ of an existing potato. You can cut the potato into pieces and plant them with the bud or ‘eye’ facing up.

It takes about 100 days after planting for potatoes to be ready to harvest. You harvest potatoes by digging them out of the ground with a potato fork (a shovel that looks like a big fork). Potatoes are ready to dig about two weeks after the green tops have turned brown and wilted away.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are also grown underground. They are orange inside and out instead of having brown skin and white flesh. Sweet potatoes are much harder than regular potatoes and have lots of vitamins and minerals regular potatoes don’t have. Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods we can eat…as long as they aren’t covered in sugar and marshmallows.

Potato facts

  • Potatoes are pollinated by insects and bugs
  • Potatoes were the main crop in Ireland for many years. Horrible weather for several years caused the “Great Potato Famine” in Ireland in the 1840s and early 1850s
  • The potato famine in Ireland caused almost 1 MILLION deaths due to starvation
  • Potatoes are full of potassium which is a very important mineral for our bodies
  • Potatoes are low in calories.
  • Potatoes are grown all over the world
  • China grows more potatoes than any other country
  • The Inca Indians used potatoes to treat cuts and scrapes
  • Potatoes were the first vegetable to be taken into space
  • The largest potato ever grown weighed over 8 pounds
  • The most nutritious part of the potato is the flesh…not the skin

Try it

  • Ask your mom for a potato. If it doesn’t have any buds or ‘eyes’, put it in a dark place until some form on the outside of the potato. Cut the potato into pieces and plant them in a large pot of soil or outside in some loose soil in a sunny location. Keep your potatoes watered (not too much) and watch for the plant to start growing above the ground. After the plant is 6 to 8 inches tall, count forward 3 weeks. Dig the potatoes and see what you find.
  • Ask your mom to fix potatoes every evening for dinner this week—cooking them differently each night. Which ones do you like the best

Read more about Plant Facts for Kids