Old potatoes

Old potatoes go soft and horrid but they are perfect for seed and will bring you in a wonderful crop of new spuds.

Old potatoes make good seed.

An excellent snippet by Katy Rose in the Witness (11 January) on reducing food waste got me thinking about old potatoes. Last week I wrote about the huge crop we have this year, grown from straggly old spuds planted randomly around the garden, successfully thwarting the moles.

Last year, potatoes reaped from the garden were kept in the dark in an old cardboard box, eked out because of the mole problem; then we bought a pocket and the old box was forgotten. Imagine my surprise this spring when tidying up in the garage to find it, dried up spuds with long skinny shoots searching for light and water. They were destined for the worm farms when suddenly I thought that it couldn’t do any harm to plant them.

So small holes were dug, scattered randomly about the garden, a little vermicompost from the wormfarms, some in between the hydrangeas, hoping to hide from the moles; perhaps fifty or more very tired looking potatoes. And this year we have one of the biggest crops ever.

Katy Rose is right; we throw away far too much good food. And old onions and potatoes are perfect for the garden. Huge savings; we haven’t had to buy chats for planting, and they are difficult to get in any case at the best of times, and we won’t be buying potatoes for months this year.

Every night we enjoy a couple new potatoes for supper; another advantage is that they don’t give the blood sugar surge of those from cold storage; that’s why the banters are forbidden potatoes. New potatoes are ‘resistant starch,’ resistant to digestion in the small intestine where they would form glucose, but instead much reaches the colon for the teeming host known as the microbiota to feed on where they form healthy short chain fatty acids instead of glucose.

At a recent lecture given in Howick, Prof Nola Dippenaar spoke of the importance of the microbiota which apparently weighs an incredible 2kg of bugs; we have 10 times as many bacteria, viruses and yeast cells in our gastrointestinal tract as human cells in our bodies. Researchers are now calling the microbiota the ‘second brain’ because of the profound effect that this host has on neurotransmitters in the body, and the neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers.

So it’s not such an exaggeration to say that planting an old mouldy potato could influence whether we go senile or not! On that note I was saddened by a recent article in the Witness suggesting that because we were highly likely to lose our marbles, we’d better start saving for the day when we would be dumped by our children whom we wouldn’t even recognise in a home. There was no mention of what we might do to lessen the chances of that scenario unfolding; like planting an old potato.

Old potatoes

Old potatoes can easily be planted if you have a large garden.

  1. Bernard Preston
  2. Our green home
  3. Our green garden
  4. Old potatoes


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South Africa