Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Spuds Are a Great Food to Grow Even If You Don't Have a Full-Sized Garden; the Humble Potato Is a Real Goer and Grower

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Spuds Are a Great Food to Grow Even If You Don't Have a Full-Sized Garden; the Humble Potato Is a Real Goer and Grower

Article excerpt

ONE of the most globally important food crops is the potato. So important, in fact, that the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations designated 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, to focus on the important role played by the humble spud in providing food security and alleviating poverty.

Even China, a nation devoted to rice as its staple crop, has recognised the role the potato can play in food security and has ramped up potato research and production.

The beauty of the potato, from a food security point of view, is that it will grow in a range of climates, requires less water to grow than other staples such as rice, is quick to produce, and produces more food per hectare than many other crops.

The potato (Solanum tuberosum) originated more than 8000 years ago in the Andes of South America. From there, it made its way to Spain with the Conquistadores, but it wasn't until it was introduced to Ireland in the 17th century that it really took off in Europe.

It then spread across the globe and is now the world's most popular vegetable, featuring in the cuisine of just about every country a Indian curries, Italian pasta, British fish and chips, and Russian potato pancakes, to name a few.

The potato is an herbaceous annual that grows up to a metre tall and produces a tuber (potato) so rich in starch that it ranks as the world's fourth most important food crop, after maize, wheat and rice.

You can put them in the ground, even on the ground, and cover them with manure and mulch, grow them in large deep pots or even in a stack of old tyres. From plant to harvest is only three or four months.

For the best results, ensure you buy certified disease-free seed potatoes. There are plenty of varieties from which to choose. A 1kg box of seed potatoes can produce more than 10kg of spuds. …

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