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How a potato grows

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#1 Cat


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Posted 08 April 2009 - 11:09 AM

The potato is just sitting aound, waiting to be used. It doesn't really care about anything, just kind of waits until someting happens to it... baked, mashed, fried... whatever.

Then it gets a little bit older and starts to sprout a few extra "bits" here and there... it's the "eyes". It shrivels somewhat. Hmmm... Getting older and would like to leave a legacy...

It's spring, the potato looks unappetizing (although it can still be mashed), and Mom decides to use these sprouted potatoes for growing more. She cuts each potato into golf-ball-sized pieces with several eyes on each piece. They are separated on newspapers to "heal" a bit... to get nice and dry, because the soil will be warm and damp.

When the soil is ready... tilled, raked out, and a nice, 2-inch-deep trench pulled through it, Mom gathers the kids and hands each one a little bucket with potato pieces in it. She shows them how to put the potato firmly into the trench, with the eyes up, pointing toward the sun. They are placed about 10 inches apart. Some of the very small potatoes are still whole, so Mom tells the child to find the biggest eye and point *that* one up when planting.

When all the potatoes are planted, Mom covers the rows up with soil, using the rake, and lets the children *walk* down the freshly-planted row. She says it "tucks them in", just like she does at bedtime.

The potato just kind of sits there for a few days, thinking about things. But then one day when the sun is making things so nice above the soil, the potato decides it's going to go see what's going on up there! It uses the energy from the potato piece to push the sprouted eyes even further up. And then it sees that it will fall over if it doesn't grab onto something, so it starts growing roots *down* through the potato piece, and keeps "eating" the food from the potato.

Eventually it pokes a sprout through the soil... HEY! It's nice up here! It suns itself and starts using the sun's energy to grow its plant bigger and stronger. The potato piece is nearly eaten away (rotted), and the roots are now taking food and nutrients from the soil, too. Mom gently covers the little plants over with a little more soil, knowing that they've now decided they'll just keep pushing up. And they do, pushing up, being covered, pushing further, eventually with a small "hill" of dirt around the plant.

After a while there's not enough soil to "hill" around them any more. The plants are big and bushy. The plant pushes a new "root" out into the soil around its base, under the soil, and starts growing a new potato. That was easy! So it pushes out another one. And another. Soon there are many small potatoes under the ground, each one hidden away and getting fat from the sun above and the soil below. The rain helps it grow healthy and round.

Mom sometimes spreads straw around the plants. It keeps the soil from drying out, and keeps the new potatoes protected from the sun. Green potatoes are not healthy to eat. So she keeps them covered up with a straw "blanket".

Eventually the green plant just gets tired from making all those hidden potatoes. It starts to dry up, and eventually just kind of gives up and lies down. It's job is finished.

Mom gets out the "potato fork"... called that because it's got tines that are at least an inch apart, so it's less likely to catch a potato. She sometimes uses a shovel or a spade, or just lets the kids dig in under the plants with their hands. Mom digs kind of far from the original plant... at least a foot away, until we start seeing new potatoes, and then she gently digs UNDER them. Damaged places on the potato invites germs in, and they will rot quickly, so any damaged ones are used first.

The potatoes are dug, and set in the yard until the dirt dries on them. They can have some sun now, but it's too bright and they prefer the shade and the dark. Mom turns the potatoes a few times to let them dry well. Then with her hands she brushes off any heavy dirt and places them in baskets. Damaged potatoes are taken to the kitchen, and the rest are put into the basement, where it is cool and dry.

For longer storage, Mom separates them in a box, with newspaper or fresh straw between them. Some people use sand. By next spring, there are a few potatoes left, shriveled and starting to sprout eyes... and you know what happens next!


(written by Cat, April 2009)


Where words and actions disagree, the heart is revealed.

Look how often the unexpected happens... and we still don't expect it.

#2 chinajade97

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 11:20 AM

I enjoyed that! I plan on sharing that with my daughters....they are always asking how things grow and how! Thanks!

#3 Crazy4Canning


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Posted 08 April 2009 - 11:45 AM

Charming story! I'll forward this to my SIL. She'll tell her son and we'll have a new West Coast version of this starting. smile.gif

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#4 GirlNextDoor


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Posted 08 April 2009 - 11:06 PM

All you need is pictures and you have an educational coloring book.
Caring for my fellow man...one pet at a time.
A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel-Proverbs 12:10

#5 Reb


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Posted 09 April 2009 - 11:21 AM

Hi Cat. You must have ESP!! I was just getting ready to post a question on tator growing..... This is a GREAT bow.gif story. I was going to ask how or what do you put on your tators to keep the colorado beetles from destroying the crop? Do you just hide them under the straw? Thank you for letting me pick your brain...... Take care, Reb
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving well-preserved, but to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, and still screaming, Whoo! What a ride!

#6 Cat


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Posted 30 March 2010 - 07:41 PM

The fastest and most efficient way for me to kill the potato bugs is to knock each one off into a can of something deadly as soon as I see leaf damage. It's the larvae I find. They can't fly at this stage, so it's easy to get rid of them. Check tops and bottoms of leaves, as well as the stems. We knock them off into either a little gasoline (which I then dump into the trash before burning), or soapy hot water.

I guess they're notorious for adapting to chemicals, so this is the fastest and easiest way to kill them.

(Good site for pics, info, and treatment.)

(red colored ones)


Where words and actions disagree, the heart is revealed.

Look how often the unexpected happens... and we still don't expect it.

#7 Amishway Homesteaders

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 05:23 AM

Nice story and a great lesson for kids as well. wink.gif
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#8 Annarchy


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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:32 AM

Great story Cat, thanks.

I should have read this before, I did not mound the plants and ended up with pea sized to quarter sized potatoes. It had been so many years since I tried growing potatoes, I forgot. :misc-smiley-231:

(I really need to find a source for straw around here.)

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God's, are Life.

#9 The WE2's

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 03:41 PM

Just copied & pasted this into my document folder, saved it as a pdf, and I'm sending it to my kindle as well! Thanks...

Matthew 6:11  "Give us this day our daily bread...amen." 

Phillipians 4:19  "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus....amen"

1 Corinthians 13:4-8  "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things"...let me walk this out Lord.


#10 sassenach

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:48 AM

thanks for the story. I was just thinking about planting some potatoes too. New potatoes are super firm and so nice to eat.
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