by Lisa Giroday, Sandra Lopuch and Sam Philips | At VG, we have been harvesting a lot of potatoes these past couple of weeks. And guess what? It never gets old! Every time we harvest potatoes, it’s like finding buried pirate treasure. Growing potatoes is one of the most rewarding crops – grow a bunch, store them all winter and feel the satisfaction of small (and sometimes very large), delicious pieces of self-sustenance.
Potatoes, or Solanum tuberosum, belong to the Solanaceae or “nightshade” family, along with tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. There are so many kinds of this glorious starch to cultivate: Fingerlings, Russian Blues, Chieftains, Sieglindes, Yukon Golds, Kennebecs, and the list goes on and on.
And although potatoes have a bad reputation for being that starchy lump on your plate (and the tastiest when slathered in oil), they are damn good for you. They are a good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber. They also contain antioxidant properties.
Good news if you’re thinking about growing potatoes next year: potatoes can grow in containers if you’re short on space. Have you ever seen potatoes growing in a deep bag or garbage can filled with soil? Remember to hill up the dirt or mulch, as potato tubers, if exposed to light, develop a green hue, which has slightly toxic qualities. Tips: When planting your potatoes next year, be sure to use certified seed potatoes to avoid diseases such as blight. These tubers are selected for their overall health.
Where to find: Pester a neighbour who has a stash, or hit up the farmers market. Helmer’s Organics from Pemberton has an insane selection to choose from. Purple potatoes are irresistible, and combined with red and yellow varieties—make for a very sexy potato salad, don’t you think?
Victory Gardens is a team of local urban farmers for hire. Lisa, Sandra and Sam help transform tired or underused residential and commercial green spaces into food producing gardens. Their goal is to challenge the way communities use space and to participate in the change needed to consume food more sustainably. For the rest of the growing season, they’ve hooked up with Scout to share some cool tips and tricks on how to get the best from of our own backyards.