Learn how to grow potatoes with your kids with this fun and easy guide. Your kids will learn so much about how the potatoes reproduce and their stages of growth. Keep reading to find out more.
Growing Potatoes with Kids
Potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow and require little farming skills to achieve a bountiful harvest. They have fewer demands concerning soil type and can actually improve your overall soil quality. This means if you feel that after planting other crops the soil value decreases, you can plant potatoes next and improve the soil quality without having to use more harmful fertilizers.
If you have limited space, you can plant potatoes in containers, tubs, and sacks and still get good results. You can easily buy garden soil in a farm store near you. If this is a project you’re excited to do with your kids, then you’re in for an interesting planting season. Potatoes take about three months to fully mature and would be great for your kids to learn and tend to.
There are so many fun options for growing vegetables with kids! Potatoes are a great place to start. But first, lets look at how potatoes reproduce.
How Do Potatoes Reproduce?
Potatoes are grown from tubers to ensure the plant retains the original variety. The tubers are used as seed potatoes and are planted directly into the soil. There are true potato seeds that you can buy from farm stores. They are disease-resistant and possibly quality hybrids. But you can also plant the potatoes you have in your pantry. Potatoes have different ways to reproduce and whichever way you decide, you can harvest many potatoes. The most common ways are:
Vegetative propagation/ asexual production
In normal plants, there is a need for two parents but with asexual reproduction, there’s only one parent plant. The new plant becomes the clone of the parent, carries the genetic properties of the same, and develops into independent plants. The process is also called vegetative propagation/ reproduction.
Tubers such as potatoes can be planted directly into the prepared ground or containers allowing them to grow. The tuber functions asexual propagation and a few days or week, tiny scaly leaves shoot and surface on the ground. The scaly leaves are equipped with buds that can form a new plant.
Choosing Potatoes to Plant
Your kids would be delighted to plant potatoes that would later make them the fluffy mash, deep-fried chips, and crispy roasts. It would get them motivated to spend more time taking care of the potato plants.
As much as you’d think that a seed potato is just that, but in fact, each variety comes with unique qualities and characteristics best suited for certain uses. Of course, you only want your kids to learn but it doesn’t hurt to let them plant potatoes you’ll enjoy cooking.
For instance, potatoes vary in amounts of starch that determine whether the potato is fluffy or floury, breaks down when cooking, or retains the firm, moist and waxy texture. The higher the starch content, the potato will most likely break when cooking. Such potatoes are best for baking, mashing, fries, or wedges.
The best potatoes for your kids to grow are daisy gold, Kennebec, Red Gold, Red Pontiac, Rio Grande Russet, magic molly, masquerade, Princess Larette, Purple Majesty, Swedish peanut fingerling, and Yukon Gold.
If you’re going to plant a potato from your pantry, make sure it has sprouts from the eye that are short and dark. You can supervise your kids to make sure they don’t break the sprouts when planting them.
What Are the Potato’s Growth Stages?
Stage 1: Here the potato takes in 100% from the soil
Stage 2: The potato uses the nutrient to create leaves, roots, and stems for the plant to appear above ground to get the sunlight.
Stage 3: This stage takes place at about 7 to 10 days. The plant takes in more carbohydrates to help bulk the seed and distribute evenly to all parts of the plant.
Stage 4: This stage is tuber bulking. This is when the crop needs 2 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per day, 3 to 14 pounds of potassium per day, to ensure the plant grows to the required size. In this stage, the roots, stems, and leaves are fully developed and functioning properly.
Stage 5: In this stage, the energy from the plant is transported to the tuber. The potatoes underground are stuffing up and getting ready for harvest.
Check out this cool page on the potato growing cycle.
Preparing the Potato Planting Site
Potatoes do well in cool, well-drained soil that is 45° to 55°F (7° to 13°C). You’ll need to pick a location for the little garden to receive lots of light with up to 6 hours of direct sunlight.
Let your child prepare the garden and space out rows about 3 feet apart. You can help them dig the trenches about 6 inches wide, 8 inches deep and space them at least 3 inches apart. Mix in the fertilizer before planting the potatoes.
The preparation process might be a little hard for your kids so it’s a good idea to help them with the process.
In each row, place a seed potato and space out to about 12 to 14 inches apart.
After the row is well laid, cover with 3 or 4 inches of soil. Then cover them with leaves or straws in a hill-like shape to allow the potatoes to grow.
You can expect to see some sprouts after 12 to 16 days of planting.
You can help your child gently add another 3 to 4 inches of soil while leaving a few inches of the plant exposed.
In addition, guide your child on pest and disease control as you await the potatoes to mature.
When the potatoes have flowers, they are ready to harvest. At this point, they have thin skin and require you to be extra gentle as you dig them up.
Understandably, kids can be a little clumsy and might hurt the plants, thus needing your guidance. You can leave them longer in the ground if you’re not looking to cook them immediately. That way, the potatoes will develop a thicker skin suitable for storage.
The surest indication that the potato is ready for harvest, the plant starts to wilt and turn yellow. This could be about 8 to 12 weeks after planting.
So your kids can have fun taking care of the potato and help in the kitchen make their favorite potato dish.
Looking for other fun indoor gardening ideas? Check out our latest article – How to Create an Indoor Garden for Kids! You could give these guys a try!
Potatoes are a fun and easy vegetable to grow that requires very little skill! You don’t need alot of space, in fact you can grow potatoes with your kids indoors if you need to. This is why learning how to grow potatoes with kids is so fun and almost fool proof! Give is a try today!