How to grow your own potato chips at home

grow your own potato chips
CC BY 3.0 Sam Beebe

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, many of us start to focus on starting a garden, even those who have never grown a single vegetable in their life. After all, if we can grow even a small amount of our own food, it's a revolutionary act, considering how little control we have over our food supply these days. But not everyone likes broccoli or kale or arugula, so what's a picky eater supposed to grow in their garden?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret, one that could potentially save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your food bill each year, and one that the big food companies don't want you to know.

You don't have to grow those stodgy old 'healthy' vegetables in your garden, because growing your snack foods is not only more fun, but much tastier than any rabbit food could ever be, and growing your own potato chips is a great way to get started with your own fast food garden.

The traditional method of growing potatoes takes a really long time - all summer, in fact - and then you still have to cut them and cook them, and who's got time for that? Instead, take advantage of the well-kept secret of growing your own potato chips, and save both time and money, while also growing a year's supply of your favorite salty and crunchy snack.

Grow your own potato chips in 7 easy steps:

1. You'll need to pick up a big bag of plain potato chips (don't get the flavored ones, as they are more prone to diseases, such as Cool Ranchitis) at the grocery store. One full-sized bag (up to 16 oz) will grow enough potato chips to feed one person for about six months, and will fill a 4' by 8' garden bed.

2. Prepare the garden bed by covering it with several inches of finished compost, and then digging it into the soil. Once the bed has been prepared and raked smooth, form long rows in it, about 6 inches high and 6 inches wide, leaving enough room between them to easily run a hoe through the beds for weeding.

3. Empty the bag of potato chips into a bowl so that you can sort through them. Pick out any of the broken chips and set aside for your next snack, as they will only grow misshapen chips, which take longer to harvest and clean.

4. Beginning at one end of the row, use your fingers to make a small hole in the top of the soil, just big enough for a single potato chip to fit standing on end. Carefully place one chip in each hole and cover it with soil, with the top of the chip buried about half an inch below the surface. Continue planting one chip every 6 inches (or if you like smaller chips, you can plant them as close as 3 inches apart).

5. Water the potato chip beds well and cover with mulch. As soon as you see the first green potato chip sprouts coming out of the ground, add a couple more inches of mulch to the beds, which will encourage the plants to produce the chips closer to the surface, instead of deep under the soil (it's a total pain to try to harvest potato chips that are buried more than six inches under the ground).

6. Once the potato chip leaves have completely covered the rows (it could be as little as 6 weeks), use your hands to gently pull back the mulch on either side of the rows, and carefully harvest the baby potato chips. For larger chips, let them grow for another couple of weeks before harvesting them.

7. Lay the potato chips out in the sun (or in a dehydrator or an oven at a low heat setting) until they become crisp, flipping them over as necessary. Salt them to taste and serve with your favorite dip or salsa.

If you have a great potato chip harvest after following these instructions, please share your photo of it with us on TreeHugger's Facebook page!

How to grow your own potato chips at home
One of America's favorite snack foods also happens to be one of the easiest to grow at home, even for the novice gardener.

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