Growing with children - potatoes
Growing food with your children has to be one of the most satisfying and educational things one can do as a parent. Teaching them that food does not grow en route in a delivery van, giving them growing skills for life and making a muddy mess in the process...what's not to like!
This season we'll be sharing our growing of potatoes from chitting them now to, planting, growing, harvesting and eating them later this summer.
They are such an easy crop to grow, even in a large pot if you are short of outside space and a delicious end product - that can even be made into chips if that's all they will dare to eat!
Buying potatoes to grow:
Make sure you buy 'seed potatoes' from a garden center or online garden retailer as you really shouldn't use ones from your fridge as they won't be guaranteed virus-free. You can buy them now and over the coming few weeks (late winter).
Types of potato:
There are 3 main types. First earlies: to plant around late March, Second earlies: to plant early to mid-April and Maincrops: for planting mid- to late April.
It doesn't really matter which you go for, but we're going to grow 'Charlotte' a second early, that's lovely hot smothered in butter and mint or cold in a salad.
Once you're potatoes arrive you need to get them going before planting or 'chitting' them. This means allowing them to start sprouting shoots. Put them eyes up and upright in an egg box or something similar in a light and frost-free place (A greenhouse or in a shed by a window is perfect). Watch them grow their alien-like shoots and the potatoes are ready to plant when the shoots are about 2-3cm long.
You can do all of this with your toddler/child, our eldest is nearly four and loves doing this and watching the weird shoots appearing! The only downside is you might have to put up with 'when will they be ready?'