A Toast to the Terrific Tattie

If there was only one vegetable I was allowed to grow in my garden for ever and ever, do you know which one I’d choose? If you guessed ‘potato’, you are right. If you did that without reading the title of the column, well done!

What is it about the humble potato that makes it such a winner for the self provisioning gardener?

Potatoes are One of the Easiest Crops to Grow

When I was eight years old, my dad showed me how to plant potatoes – dig a trench, drop a potato in, a sprinkle of chicken manure, cover and BAM – 5 months later we had potatoes. There was no thinning, very little weeding and absolutely ZERO skill. We had buckets and buckets of beautiful, fluffy spuds

And if eight-year-old me can do it, anyone can. You don’t even need a garden to grow potatoes – a container or even an old bin liner filled with compost will do just fine. You can buy special seed potatoes but if you’re really pushed for time or money, an old spud from the bottom of the fridge will do fine.

Tatties are Energy Hand Grenades

Here in self provisioning HQ, I’m always looking for crops that will give the best energy hit per square metre. Move over salad crops, I’m planting South American starch bombs for summer carb loading. 

Potatoes are such a winner in the ‘energy created vs energy expended’ stakes that they are credited with contributing to the big increase in world population in the 17th and 18th centuries. Small holders were able to grow an easy, hardy, high calorie crop that stored well – and that was an absolute game changer. 

If you’re looking for an easy allotment or garden crop that will give you lots of energy and store well, then the humble tattie is your first stop. 

Tatties are Versatile, Delicious, and Nutritious

What’s the best way to eat a tattie? Mashed? Roast? Chipped? Dauphinoise (fancy)? All of these are delicious, aren’t they? There are so many ways to eat a potato that are simply divine. Who doesn’t love a big steaming baked potato with baked beans and melted cheese?

Did you know that potatoes contain lots of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium? Keep the skin on for extra fibre and goodness. 

It’s Not Too Late to Plant Your Tatties

If you think you’ve missed the planting time for potatoes, guess what – you’re wrong! I don’t normally plant until mid April, and you can plant right into May and some varieties into June. So grab a spud, a spade, and get planting!

Fun Potato Facts

  • Potatoes, tomatoes, and tobacco are all in the same family of plants.
  • In Austria, a potato is called an ‘Erdapfel’ which means ‘Earth Apple’.
  • Potatoes aren’t tubers – they are enlarged stems.
  • A waxy potato has a higher protein content than ‘fluffy’ types. 

Neil M. White lives in Perthshire with his wife and three children. He has worked in horticulture as a landscape gardener and in a tree nursery. Now a ‘hobby’ gardener, he spends most of his time growing fruit or veg. Juggling gardening, family life, and a day job, Neil also finds time to write – his latest book on gardening ‘The Self Provisioner’ was published in April 2020. Catch up with Neil on his Twitter feed.

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