Growing Potatoes: an activity for children of all ages. Potatoes are a fun plant to grow in the garden. Even if you don’t have a lot of space to grow, they are a good option because you can grow them vertically using containers or a potato tower. This activity will show you both ways, as well as show you some other options that may interest you.
- seed potatoes – you may see terms such as seed potatoes but it is actually a misleading term since potatoes aren’t seeds. It just means a potato that can grow a new potato plant. You can buy seed potatoes through seed catalogs or at your local nursery.
- plastic containers with holes in the bottom (such as large tree pots from a nursery or five gallon buckets with holes drilled in the bottom OR wire mesh, stakes and straw
- compost or good loose soil
- Read one or more of the following books:
- Potatoes (Food We Eat) by Dorothy Turner – highly recommended for children ages 8-11. (R)
- Cool Potatoes from Garden to Table: How to Plant, Grow, and Prepare Potatoes by Katherine Hengel – recommended for children ages 8-11. (R)
- Two Old Potatoes and Me by John Coy – highly recommended for children ages 5-8 (please note: this book deals with the issue of divorce). (R)
- For a list of beneficial insects and pests read this post here.
- Decide how you want to grow your potatoes. This lesson will focus on containers and potato towers, but there are other methods. See the Pinterest board below for other ideas.
- If you choose containers all you need to do is obtain them and you’re ready to go.
- If you choose a potato tower you will need to follow these steps:
- Make a tube out of the wire mesh by cutting a length of mesh and twisting the ends together. Make sure to use leather gloves to keep your hands from getting cut. If you have gophers or moles you may want to add a bottom to it either by folding over the wire or by adding another piece of mesh for the bottom. Also make sure the mesh holes are small enough to keep those critters out.
- Stake the tube so it stands upright.
- Add straw to the bottom and outside of the tube.
- As you add soil to the middle of the tube keep adding straw to the outside edges to keep the soil in the tube.
- Here is a video showing a potato tower method using wire mesh:
- Once you have about four inches of soil in the bottom of your container or tower you can start planting your potatoes. Simply place a seed potato in the ground and add a couple inches of soil over the seed potatoes. Some people chit their potatoes to get more plants, but it’s not necessary. This video shows how to chit potatoes and grow them in the ground.
- Keep your soil moist but not wet with regular watering. (Very wet soil will cause mold.)
- Once the plants are about six inches above the soil add two or three inches of soil around the plant. This will cause the plant to put out more underground stems that will grow more potatoes.
- Continue adding more soil (some people use loose mulch) around the potatoes each time they reach six inches above the soil until your container or tower is full.
- Continue watering until the plants start to turn brown and begin to die. At this point the potatoes are ready for harvest.
- If you have containers, you can harvest your potatoes by simply dumping out the container and digging through the soil. For towers, unfasten the wire mesh and dig through the soil for your potatoes.
See the videos below for tips and other methods for growing potatoes.
This video shows how to grow potatoes in a raised bed using straw.
This is much like the container or tower method but uses burlap sacks.
- For companion planting, consider also planting beans, corn, cabbage, horseradish, marigold and eggplant.
- Document any pertinent information about growing your potatoes (location planted, date planted, date harvested, amount of water given, yield, etc).
- Place the page(s) in a protector when finished and include them in the garden notebook/journal.
- Take pictures and tag #theabundantgarden on Instagram to share your fun and for an opportunity to be featured @theabundantgarden.