Potatoes remain a favorite in the Apps' garden

Jerry Apps
A sampling of potatoes dug at Jerry Apps' farm in Waushara County.

It’s potato harvesting time. Since 1967, when we began vegetable gardening at Roshara, potatoes have remained one of our main crops. Maybe it’s because the words of my father remain in my head—a meal is not complete unless it includes potatoes.

Thus, as a kid, I remember fried potatoes for breakfast, boiled potatoes for dinner, and boiled potatoes for supper, at least six days of the week. We often had pancakes for breakfast on Sunday, as a special treat, but back to potatoes for dinner and supper. Another treat was baked potatoes, which we had when relatives came for dinner or supper, and especially if it was a holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Potatoes have been an important food in the world for thousands of years. The Inca Indians in Peru were believed to have cultivated potatoes around 9,000 B.C. In 1536, the Spanish invaders in Peru discovered the taste of potatoes and took them back to Europe. In 1589, Sr. Walter Raleigh is believed to have introduced potatoes to Ireland. It wasn’t until the 1620s that potatoes made their way from Europe to the United States. Irish immigrants to the U.S. also brought potatoes with them. According to the USDA, in 2021 the top three states in potato production were Idaho, Washington and Wisconsin

Potatoes are a nutritious food; They are plant-based, cholesterol-free, sodium-free. fat-free, and gluten-free. The potato is about 80 percent water and 20 percent solids. An eight-ounce baked or boiled potato contains only 100 calories. They also are an excellent source of fiber, and they contain antioxidants that help to prevent diseases.

The potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space—the year was 1995. NASA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers created the technology. The goal was to provide a way of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and perhaps feed future space colonies.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Listen to your dad. Potatoes are good for you.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to or contact him at