Potatoes form underground on the roots of the potato plant

Potatoes grow on the roots of the plant. ©iStock

Potatoes grow on the roots of the plant. ©iStock

The part of the potato plant that we eat grows underground on the plant's roots.

Above ground there are leaves, flowers, and fruit which we do not eat, and which are in fact poisonous. 

Potatoes have small buds, called 'eyes', and new plants grow from these, not from the seeds of the fruit. Potatoes are tubers which form on the end of underground stems.

 

 

 

A potato with a sprouting 'eye' being hand planted. ©iStock

A potato with a sprouting 'eye' being hand planted. ©iStock

 

Potato farmers plant potato 'eyes' in ploughed and fertilised paddocks. After about 100 days, 15 or 20 potatoes have grown on each plant.

On potato farms, the seed potatoes are planted by tractors into the ploughed fields.

 

Tractors planting potatoes on a big farm. ©iStock

Tractors planting potatoes on a big farm. ©iStock

The potatoes are dug out using a machine called a potato harvester, which lifts the potatoes out of the soil. Then the potatoes are sorted and packed into sacks and boxes.

Potatoes are the fourth largest crop in the world. 

Eating potatoes

Potatoes are cooked in many different ways. ©iStock

Potatoes are cooked in many different ways. ©iStock

Potatoes can be cooked in many different ways : they are boiled, baked, fried. Boiled potatoes can be mashed. Sometimes the mashed potato is added to flour and other ingredients to make bread or pancakes. Potatoes can also be frozen and dried. Potatoes are a good food, as they contain protein, calcium, vitamins C, B and D as well as niacin.

History of potatoes

The potato plant is a native of South America. Spanish explorers took the plants back to Europe 400 years ago. The British brought potatoes to Australia when they started their colony here in 1788.

Today there are more than 4000 different kinds of potatoes.

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