When winter is at its coldest and wettest, you can have a bit of summer indoors. One of the easiest plants to grow indoors is the potato. Potatoes grow long vines filled with dark green leaves. They are a fun and easy home science project for children. Watching potato plants grow will help to teach preschool children about the parts of a growing plant. In addition to a few growing supplies, potato plants need lots of light, air and the correct temperatures to thrive.
Wash your potato thoroughly to remove any growth retardant that produce handlers may have used on them. The plants will not sprout with the growth retardant present.
Fill a wide-mouthed jar with water.
Cut the potato in half across the middle.
Place four toothpicks ¼ of the way into the potato's skin near the circumference of the potato at a point halfway from the cut end to the tip of the potato.
Place the potato into the jar, cut-side down, making sure that the toothpicks catch on the lip of the jar and hold the potato there. Some of the eyes should be covered with water. The roots of the potato will sprout from these eyes.
Place the jar beneath grow lights where the potato will receive sunlight. The plant will begin to sprout roots within a week.
Change the water in the jar if it becomes cloudy.
Transplant the potato into a deep container filled half full of potting soil. Potatoes need plenty of room for their roots to spread out and grow new potatoes.
Add 3 inches of soil to the base of the plant when the potato's vine reaches 6 inches long. Continue to add 3 inches of soil for every 6 inches of growth until the soil reaches the top of the container. Mound the soil around the plant.
Check the soil daily and water consistently. The soil should remain as wet as a wrung-out sponge.
Harvest potato tubers when the vines produce fruit, which is inedible but a sign that the potatoes may be harvested. These potatoes will be small, new potatoes. Leave tubers for larger potatoes that may be harvested later.
Things You Will Need
- Wide-mouthed jar
- Grow lights
- Deep container
- Potting soil
- Garden trowel
- Spray potato leaves with a solution of soapy water if you notice aphids on your plants. Aphids look like tiny yellow mites.
- Potatoes are distantly related to the deadly nightshade. Although the tubers harvested from the roots of potatoes are edible, the leaves are poisonous.
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