Ireland Unit: Grow a Potato (Great Irish Famine Activity)

The Great Famine was a period in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 of mass starvation, disease, and immigration. During the famine, about one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island’s population to fall by between 20% and 25%. This time has also been referred to as the Irish Potato Famine as the cause was a potato blight, which infected potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, precipitating some 100,000 deaths in total in the worst affected areas and among similar tenant farmers of Europe.

I thought it would be a great activity to grow a potato to see how it looks as it starts to create roots and leaves.

First I inserted tooth picks into the sides of the potatoes in three areas. This will keep the potato suspended above the water.

Next I put it in a glass jar filled with water.

I placed the potato in the window and watched the leaves/roots form.

After only a few days some early leaves and roots started to form. My oldest liked to check on it every morning and see if it grew any overnight.

After a few weeks leaves had emerged from the top of the canning jar. I didn’t know that a sweet potato was such a beautiful plant!

After about a month, we had to transfer our potato plant to another container as it had outgrew the canning jar. I used a half gallon soda container and cut the top off. It worked very well.

As soon as the outdoors warms up enough, we are going to plant it in a larger pot outside. I can’t wait for baby sweet potatoes!

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