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Potatoes are one of the most common and important food sources on the planet, and they contain a wealth of health benefits that make them all the more essential as a staple dietary item for much of the world’s population. These health benefits include their ability to improve digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, boost heart health, protect from polyps, prevent cancer, and manage diabetes. They strengthen the immune system, reduce signs of aging, protect the skin, increase circulation, reduce blood pressure, maintain fluid balance, reduce insomnia, and aid in eye care.

Children around the world often refuse to eat vegetables but they like potatoes. This is the strange and magical quality of potatoes; you will rarely find anyone who dislikes them or refuses to eat them. They are on almost every major continental diet in some form and they can be prepared in dozens of ways, including baked, fried, sliced, mashed, and many more. They are native to the Americas, most likely in the Andes, Peru, and Bolivia. They were cultivated somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago in the central and south American region. The term potato can refer to either the plant or the entire tuber, which is rather shapeless and ugly, in most varieties. Its scientific name is Solanum Tuberosum, and it is actually a member of the nightshade family.

Wild potatoes still grow in some parts of the Americas, but they were introduced to other parts of the world only 400-500 years ago. These vegetables now dominate the world as the 4th largest food crop, and more than 1/3 of the world’s potatoes are actually now grown in China and India, where they represent an essential part of their cuisine, as well as the cuisine of many of their neighboring countries.

Today, it’s difficult to imagine a diet without potatoesThey have somehow become one of the most popular and recognized foods on the planet. Potato lovers (including me), and even those who don’t like them (yet), will be equally delighted to know that potatoes have nutritional components that go far beyond carbohydrates and calories, and they can be an extremely beneficial addition to any dietary plan.

GROWING POTATOES 

  • Plant “seed potatoes” (pieces of whole potato or a small whole potato, with at least 2 eyes per piece) 0-2 weeks after last spring frost. (See local frost dates.)
  • You may start planting earlier, as soon as soil can be worked, but be aware that some crops may be ruined by a frost.
  • If you are cutting up potato pieces for planting, do so 1-2 days ahead of time. This will give them the chance to “heal” and form a protective layer, both for moisture retention and rot resistance.
  • Spread and mix in rotted manure or organic compost in the bottom of the trench before planting. (Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.)
  • Plant seed potatoes one foot apart in a 4-inch deep trench, eye side up.
    Practice yearly crop rotation.
  • Before planning your garden, take a look at our plant companions chart to see which veggies are most compatible with potatoes.
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