Some Important Potato Facts
There was a time when people who were dieting would not consider eating a potato but if you learn the potato facts you might change your mind about this vegetable. We now know that potatoes are not only delicious but a health choice. They are loaded with vitamin C and B6 and have plenty if fiber. They are also a great source of carbohydrates.
7,000 years ago Columbian farmers discovered the potato. But it wasn’t until the early 16th century that potatoes were discovered in Europe. People liked the nutritional value of the plant and the fact that it could be easily stored and used long after harvest. But due to the fact that it is a relative to nightshade, at first people were scared to use the vegetable. This is a potato fact that not everyone could swallow.
The leaves form potatoes are actually poisonous. If a potato receives too much sunlight the skin can toughen and become green. When this happens solanine is present in the skin which can make the potato taste bitter and also make a person sick. Because of these reasons, potatoes were at first mainly used to feed criminals or prisoners of war.
In the early 1800’s potatoes became Ireland’s number 1 crop and it was said to cause a population explosion. By the mid 1800’s potatoes had been noticed world wide and incorporated in everyday diets.
Potatoes are easy to grow and can be stored for long periods of time in a cool, dark place. All you need is a small area behind your regular garden to grow the tubers. It is a good idea to spread manure fertilizer over the area and mix it well with the soil. You can begin to plant them in the early spring.
Here are some potato facts that can make them easier to grow. Make sure that the potatoes you plan on planting all have eyes. You can cut each individual eye of a potato out and plant it facing upward. The potato shoots must be placed 5 inches under the soil. They also must be spaced a full 15 inches apart. This insures that they will have enough room to grow and thrive. It is not a good idea to use old potatoes from your cupboard. The store brought brands are sprayed with an insecticide that tries to stop the spud from sprouting. It is better to go to the garden center to buy potato seedlings.
Potatoes are annual plants but you will have to replant them every year if you dug them up at harvest time. If you do not want to replant them, you can make the potato area bigger and just dig up every other potato plant. Leave the ones that are left undisturbed and the next year you can have fresh potatoes again.
Potato bugs such as the Colorado potato bug and the red slug can cause damage or even kill the plant if it is infested. When the plant is growing it is easy to remove these pests but after the leaves start to bush out, you may need a store bought plant insecticide to control the problem.
When the large leaves for the plant start to wither and fade, it is time to harvest the potatoes. Dig up and gently remove the tubers with a small garden shovel. If you have planted extra plants for next season, do not disturb the root area and stay clear of the remaining plants.
After viewing these potato facts you may want to incorporate them into your diet more frequently. They are healthy vegetables but you must be careful in the way you prepare them. Use natural condiments such as salsas or light salad dressing in place of sour crème or butter.