Enviroschools Marlborough / Enviroschools stories  / Learning about the humble spud
Growing potatoes

Learning about the humble spud

What do you get when you cross an elephant with a potato?  MASHED POTATO!

Term 3 is a popular time of year in the Kids Edible Gardens.  For most children participating, they are chitting (sprouting) potatoes, eagerly waiting to plant them into buckets for class potato growing competitions or planting into their garden beds.  There is a lot of discussion as to how they will cook them: mashed with butter and cheese, roasted with summer herbs, added to boiled eggs as a salad or simply boiled with mint and eaten with lots of dipping butter!  The most excitement, however, is digging them up before leaving school for their long summer holiday.

There is, of course, much more to chitting and planting potatoes.  The children learn that although the potatoes they plant are called seed potatoes (because they act as a seed) they are actually part of the stem!  As they mound up the soil around the plants, they discover that the tuber or potato has all the parts of a normal stem.  When the stems are covered in soil, they become thicker and develop into the potatoes that we know and love.  At the end of the growing season, when the plant’s leaves and stems die down to the soil level, the children unearth the new tubers/potatoes which have by then detached from their stems.