With the recent disruption of our day-to-day lives, which affected global buying patterns and created fears of limited access to food, there could be no better time to start growing vegetables at home.

Potatoes are nutritious and easy to grow, even if you do not have much of a garden. In addition to two easy ways to grow your own potatoes at home, we share a recipe for a hearty meal you can prepare with your harvest.

The basics of potato growing  

Potatoes are not fussy; all they need is loose soil with good drainage and plenty of sun. A good helping of fertiliser while preparing the soil for planting, will also give them a boost.

The easiest part about growing this vegetable is that you can plant any potato that has started to sprout. The part of the potato that sprouts is called the eye and, depending on how many eyes have formed, you can cut up the potato before planting. You can even grow potatoes from just the peel! Just ensure that the eyes are facing upwards when you plant them.

Once you have planted your sprouting potatoes, they need to be watered well and get full sun for most of the day. Potatoes do not generally require much water because their tubers do not like to get soggy. As such, it is important to water potatoes frequently to prevent plant stress, but never let the soil remain wet for long periods.

Once the potato plant starts to flower, it is busy producing tubers. Your potatoes will be ready to harvest once the leaves start to die back.

Potatoes can be planted from August to early June the following year in frost-free areas. In areas that commonly experience frost, it is best to plant from August to December or early January.

Grow potatoes in bags

Potatoes grow easily in almost any kind of bag, from garbage bags to shopping bags. You can also use grower bags that are specifically designed for this purpose. Here’s how to plant potatoes using a garbage bag:

  • Fill a large plastic garbage bag with soil.
  • Punch a few holes in the bag for drainage. (If planting in a fabric shopping bag the fabric will be porous enough to drain by itself.)
  • When using a black garbage bags, roll the top edges over to make the bag sturdier. This will prevent it from toppling over.
  • Black garbage bags retain the heat of the sun, which speeds up growth.
  • Growing in a bag makes harvesting so much easier than digging up your potatoes.
  • Once your potatoes are ready, simply tear the bag and pick out your potatoes.

Upcycle old tyres

Old tyres can be upcycled to become part of your home vegetable garden. All you need to do is fill the tyre with soil and plant your potatoes. To improve drainage, place the tyre on a bed of rocks or gravel.

Start your seedlings in a single tyre and as they grow, add more tyres to create a stack. This will allow the tubers more space to produce, resulting in a higher yield. Stacking the tyres also helps support the plants so they do not fall over. When ready, simply remove the tyres to reveal your wholesome harvest.

Creamy potato soup

This hearty soup is a real treat on a cold or rainy day.

Ingredients

1kg potatoes

3 onions

2ℓ water

250mℓ cream

1 packet of white onion soup powder

1 cup of grated cheese

1 cup of bacon, fried and chopped

½ cup chives, finely chopped

Method

  1. Peel the potatoes and onions then cut into cubes. In a pot, boil the potatoes and onions in the water until soft. Drain the water but keep it for later.
  2. Put the potatoes and onions in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Mix the packet of onion soup with a cup of water and add it to the water used for cooking.
  4. Return this mixture to the pot and add the potatoes and onions.
  5. Now add the cream, half of the cheese and bacon. Cook for 30 minutes until the soup has a thick and creamy consistency.
  6. Sprinkle the remainder of the bacon and cheese on top before serving. Serve with bread. – Ursula Human, FarmBiz