When life hands you sprouting potatoes...
What do you do when you discover a bag full of potatoes that are perfectly good... apart from the fact that they are covered in sprouts??? Throw them out? No! If you're like me and you hate food waste then you see this as a challenge! An opportunity to grow your own potatoes!
Even though it was a bit late in the season, we decided to have a go at growing some potatoes in our garden. We grew some nicely spaced out in a pallet collar (they grew the best) but since we had lots leftover, we threw them in a pot to see if they would grow there too (they did, but just not as big as the ones that had more space).
We chose the hottest, driest summer for 150 years to conduct our potato experiment so my husband did lots of late night watering but, apart from that, we left the spuds to their own devices. The only thing we did was occasionally pile some extra dirt around the base of the plants, to make sure that the potatoes didn't poke up above ground. If a potato gets sunlight when it's growing, it makes a poisonous chemical called solanine!
I was told that potatoes are ready to harvest shortly after they flower. But our potato plants didn't flower at all. So after about 8 weeks, we pulled up one plant to see if they looked ready. There were lots of potatoes there but they looked a bit small so we left them another few weeks before checking again. This time (after about 10 weeks in total) they looked a good edible size so we pulled up a few and boiled them up. Delicious!
We mainly winged it with our potato project (with a little help from google and instagram) but if you want to do what we did, see the step-by-step instructions below.
1. Find already-sprouting potatoes in the pantry! (Otherwise you can buy seed potatoes I think.)
2. Mix one part sand with three parts soil and stir in a little environmentally friendly fertiliser (according to manufacturer's instructions).
3. Plant potatoes about 10-15cm deep and about 30cm apart. (This seemed to be most efficient and successful for us but they also grew, more slowly, when we planted them much closer together in pots.)
4. Water regularly.
5. Pile earth around the base of the plant to make sure that the potato stays dark, below ground.
6. After the potato plants have flowered (or when you get bored of waiting) pull up a plant and shake the soil gently off the roots to see how many potatoes you have and whether they look big enough to eat. If not, put them back down again and keep waiting!
7. When they look big enough, eat them!!!