What’s more delicious than a steaming hot potato with melting butter or sour cream and chives? Or mashed potatoes? French-fries? Potato Chips? Potatoes are on many people’s favorite food list. But where did they come from? Whoever came up with the idea for potato chips or French fries?
Let’s “Dig” for the Potato Facts
- Potatoes are members of the Solanaceae family—or the Deadly Nightshade family! That makes them relatives of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, tobacco—even petunias!
- Sweet potatoes are not related to potatoes at all. They are related to morning glories!
- Potatoes are native to the Americas—originally growing in the mountains of Peru.
- Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing French fries to America when he had them served at a White House dinner.
- Potato chips were invented as an act of retaliation from a chef against a picky customer. The chef at a café in Saratoga got annoyed when Cornelius Vanderbilt (the railroad magnate) sent his thick-cut fried potatoes back. In a fit of pique, the chef sliced them very thin and fried them until crispy. Vanderbilt loved them—and the rest is history.
How to Grow Potatoes
Potatoes are easy to grow. Plant potato sets in full sun in a six-inch deep trough. Space them 12-inches apart and cover them with four inches of soil.
When foliage is about six inches tall, make “hills” around the base of each plant to just beneath the bottom leaves. Continue to “hill” as plants grow, until they begin to bloom.
Water potatoes with about one-inch of water a week. Feed regularly with Tomato-tone until mid-summer, then stop. Fertilizing late in the season can induce top growth at the expense of the developing potatoes.
When plants begin to bloom, new potatoes can be harvested by gently feeling in the soil around the stems. Mature potatoes can be harvested when the tops die back. If the soil is not too damp, they can be left in the ground for a week or two for the skins to set.
Because potatoes are related to tomatoes, do not plant where you’ve had a problem with a disease on your tomatoes.
They’re In and Waiting For You!
Fresh potato sets or “starts” have just come in at the Great Big Greenhouse and can be planted around the first of April.
We’re here to answer all your veggie planting questions from Asparagus to Zucchinis and everything in between – including potatoes!
The Great Big Greenhouse Has All Your Gardening Needs!
Stop by the Great Big Greenhouse and get everything you need to grow delicious potatoes in your garden.