Thursday 3 May 2018

How to Grow Potatoes with Children


How to Grow Potatoes with Children

Children love gardening - they love the digging, watering and the harvesting. Many plants can be grown without a garden, just a big pot and somewhere to put it.

Sadly many children think fruit and vegetables come from the supermarket. They do not know that potatoes grow in the ground, tomatoes on bushes, apples on trees. It is easy to show them by growing your own fruit or vegetables. It doesn't need to be much, you can grow fruit or vegetables in pots. Start with potatoes but also try strawberries and tomatoes.

Bear has helped in the garden since he was old enough to walk. When I said we were planting potatoes today he asked "and tomatoes Nanny?" "I have to check they are red before I pick them" Yes, he remembered from last summer and he's only three.

Growing potatoes is easy, here's a quick guide. Even if you have never grown anything before, try this.

How to Grow Potatoes with Children

What you need

You only need four potatoes for a pot or a row in the garden. Some potting compost and a space to put the pot.  The pot should be deep, at least 30cms wide and have drainage holes. We use a soft tub that we can roll down the sides, and as the potatoes grow we unroll the sides and top up with potting compost. We have successfully grown them in a big plastic pot too.


1. Choose Your Potatoes

Most garden centres will sell seed potatoes by weight, so you can buy just four. Do not be tempted to plant potatoes bought in the supermarket as they may have diseases that do not affect them for eating but may stop them growing into plants.

Choose first or second early potatoes, they are the ones we call "new potatoes" and grow the fastest. Choose those with lots of eyes. Once you get them home put in a container such as an egg box and leave for the shoots to grow a little, this is called chitting. Then they are ready for planting. Tip:  I usually choose seed potatoes that already have lots of shoots so can miss out this bit.


2. Prepare Your Pot

Potatoes need lots of soil on top of them, they turn green in sunlight and this is poisonous so the best way to grow is to put a layer of compost on the bottom of the pot, then place the potatoes and cover with compost. Water well.


3. Growing on

As the green shoots appear, cover with more compost. Water the pot regularly. Continue to cover the shoots as they grow until the pot is full. When the plants flower (or the leaves go mottled and look like they are dying) the potatoes are ready to be harvested.


4. Harvesting

You can just tip the contents out and let the children pick the potatoes out of the soil.

 Growing potatoes in the open ground

If you have a garden you can grow them in a row. Dig a trench, plant the potatoes in the trench and cover with soil. As the potatoes grow, take the soil from each side of the row and cover the green foliage. Do this until the ridge covering the potatoes is about 20 - 30 cms high. Dig them up when the potatoes flower.


We also grow tomatoes in the greenhouse, they can be grown outside too. Just put three plants in a grow bag with supports. Water often and pick when red (unless you have chosen yellow tomatoes of course).


Just remember to have fun!


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