Grow Some Fun this Spring
Spring is here and now is a great time to start introducing your kids to gardening! This can be done with things you probably have laying around the house and is as much fun for adults as it is for children. A large part of gardening is the magic that happens. Taking a seed and seeing it transform into a beautiful flower or edible food is what makes gardening so rewarding. For this project we will be growing a potato.
What you will need:
- Large container/bucket or garden space.
What you may want:
- Magic markers
- Construction Paper
- Paint Stickers
- Ribbon or twine
The Fun: Find a container. Large cottage cheese or yogurt containers work well for this project, but use whatever you have on hand. Spring brings visions of bright colors of blooming gardens and sunny days. So shake off the drab days of winter with multi colored planters and interesting containers. The more you let your kids decorate their own vessel, the more interested they will be in the project. Your container can be spruced up with stickers, magic markers or crayons. If using old food containers, you can cover it with colorful construction paper taped to the outside or paint it.. Let your child decorate their container how they like. Add a ribbon, twine or bow, and have your child write his or her name on it for a personalized touch. Poke a few holes in the bottom of your vessel or add a little driveway stone to the bottom to keep roots from sitting in the water. Note, if you poke holes in the bottom of your container, don’t forget to add a shallow dish under it to catch water. Later you can transplant your growing potato into the garden or a larger outside vessel like a bucket. You won’t get a high yield crop in a small container, but it will engage kids in the gardening process if you choose to grow your potato without the intention of harvesting. Choose your potato. We’ve all had it happen. A few potatoes left to sit too long start to sprout. These are ready to plant! But if you have fresh potatoes, you can get them started easily by letting them set in a warm, dark place for a few weeks until they start sprouting. For those who have never left a potato get to this stage, the sprout comes from the “eyes” of the potato. Cut your potato into small enough sections to fit one into your container, leaving one or two eyes for each section. Add a few inches of soil to the bottom of your container and plant the section, eye up. Cover with soil to within about a ½” below rim of container. Add some warm water to thoroughly saturate soil and place in a sunny location. Be careful not to over water, but keep soil moist. You should start seeing a green stem in about 2-4 weeks. Once your potato is a few inches above the container, it’s time to transplant to the garden or a large container given it is the right time of year. You can decorate buckets or leave them as is. Buckets can be found at just about any hardware store but try to find PBA free if you can and do not reuse buckets that formerly had oils or chemicals in them.
Transplanting into buckets Drill a few drain holes to start. Add about 2″ of soil to the bottom of your bucket and gently pull entire plant with soil from original house container. Be sure to keep the original soil in tact as much as possible so you don’t disturb or break roots. You can fit anywhere from 1-3 plants in one bucket but be sure there is enough room for new tubers to grow for harvesting. Fill the surrounding area with soil but do not add soil above original soil levels unless stem is 6-8″ tall. When your potato stem is 6-8″ tall, add soil up to half of the stem. Keep adding soil as the stem grows a few inches until you reach the top of your bucket, leaving about an inch or 2 from the top rim. Your potato will grow several more inches above the rim. Be sure to keep soil moist but not over saturated.
Transplanting to garden Dig your hole just about as deep as your container soil. Again being careful not to disturb roots too much, place plant in hole and cover. If your stem is quite tall, you can always mound at this time as well. 8″ in mound is about what your ultimate goal is. Harvest when tops begin to yellow and die off. Enjoy!!