Potatoes are so common in the western diet that we imagine they’ve been around forever. But although evidence suggests potatoes were used around 500BC, the potato had a bad reputation for many centuries and was thought by some cultures to be an evil vegetable!
The leaves, stems and fruits of the potato plant are poisonous so the reputation stuck for a while. Potatoes aren’t particularly attractive to look at either, but they are probably one of the most wholesome and practical vegetables we can grow or buy for our families.
And potatoes aren’t all about long hours of digging trenches any more, although you can if you like the exercise and have the space, of course. There are other ways to grow potatoes that are just as productive and take half the time and effort to produce.
Potatoes are a valuable source of B vitamins, vitamin C, carbohydrate and minerals. Nutrition-wise they are a starchy food and probably around the same value as rice.
Over the past couple of centuries, potato has been used as a medicinal food for various ailments, including digestive problems. It is also said to be a good cure for dry skin and sores: Mix grated raw potato with a little olive oil and apply to affected area.
Store them in a dark airy place and not too cold. They have a high water content and if they freeze they’ll rot very quickly.
There are lots of different varieties of potatoes – even blue ones. I’ve tried blue potatoes and I couldn’t really taste any difference and I must admit the blue colour put me off slightly! Look in your local garden centre for available varieties or check online. I found this one on Amazon (UK) and it’s at the top of my possible growing list this year.
“Maris Peer seed potatoes produce one of the most magnificent looking haulms ever seen. The flowers on the foliage are even scented which makes them unusual. The tubers are oval shaped with white skins and a firm, creamy coloured flesh.
Disease-wise they have good resistance to all skin diseases. Maris Peer are particularly well suited for second cropping.”
Find out how to grow potatoes in all sorts of ways in this growing guide (recipes included!):
How to Grow Potatoes (updated edition)
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