Royal Society EL/B1/79

Extract from a letter about Potato cultivation sent to Robert Boyle

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Potatoes were of considerable interest, because they were easy to propagate, produced a large crop and could be grown on relatively poor land. In March 1663 the Royal Society's Journal Book recorded 'A proposition to plant Potatoes through all the parts of England and the benefit thereof in times of scarcity of food their usefulness for meat and bread'.This is part of a longer letter written to Robert Boyle, by a contact in the country, who was presumably asked to send some seed potatoes and advice following this proposition.

The writer describes the potatoes as roots, but they are in fact tubers (a thickened, underground stem). He recommends eating in winter salads and preserving the potato apples (the tomato-like fruits of the plants) as well as the tubers, although they are poisonous.