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Potato Plant (Solanum tuberosum)

by atlea
Edible (34)      Perennials (3)      Vegetables (2)     

maturing plant

Name: Potato Plant (Solanum tuberosum)

Description: S. tuberosum is a perennial plant, grown for its edible tubers. It was first domesticated around modern day Peru approximately 7,000 - 9,000 years ago. It is one of the most important crops economically today, with a total global output of around 360 million tons annually.

maturing plant
A young plant.

Size: The above-ground part of the plant will reach a height of around 40 - 70 cm when mature. The tubers vary greatly in size, depending on the space they have to grow as well as nutrient availability.

Conditions: S. tuberosum thrives best in fairly cool soils, between 15 - 23 degrees celsius are considered optimal. It is not overly dependant on soil quality and will grow well even in nutritionally poor soil. However, it is recommended to add organic matter prior to planting to loosen up the soil and provide stability for the roots. Interplanting with other crops of different families is often a sound idea, as the tuberosum tubers will loosen up the soil, which is especially handy when a heavy clay soil is used.

maturing plant
S. tuberosum interplanted with a succulent and squash plant

Propagation: Potatoes are grown from seed tubers, selected from the last year's crop and left in the dark until they form little white/purple "roots". The fruit growing on the bushy part of the plant is poisonous.

maturing plant
The tuber.

When to plant: S. tuberosum should be planted in early spring, after the last frost. It will take around 3 to 4 months to reach maturity when it can be unearthed and stored in the dark.

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