A Modern Homesteader

True Potato Seed

True potato seed, is something I’ve been researching off and on since last season. I wish I had been a little more on since it is a bit late this year to get started with them but next year I want to grow a bunch of potato from seed and start on the process of developing a strain that does well in the growing conditions I can offer it.

Sterility has been bred into potato crops by agribusiness for generations. This is due to our preference of propagating potato vegetatively, that is by tuber, aka seed potato. Propagating vegetatively means we get exactly the same type of potato because we know the qualities of the plant. However, potatoes do make seed pods, that look like green tomatoes. Inside those pods, are tons of true potato seed, we only know half of the genetics of that seed, so there is room for a lot more diversity. Growing them out is a little different than growing tomatoes, you have to be careful about timing and such. However, there are significant advantages.

Disease, like late blight, cannot be spread by true seed…but could be spread by non-certified seed potatoes, volunteer potatoes in your garden (that is those tubers you missed last year!), planting potatoes from the grocery store, etc. Late blight is a pretty serious disease for farmers so seed might be a partial solution to help avoid bringing this problem to your garden.

True seed will help us create and maintain a broader genetic diversity than we currently have in potatoes. When you select which plants to save your seed from, you can pick the plants that performed the best in your particular microclimate. Over a few years, you will begin to develop your own variety of potatoes that perform for your garden. This is very attractive to me, plus the benefit of being able to store seed enough for an acre of potatoes in the space of a plastic bag, instead of in huge barrels? Yep, this makes sense to me! Of course, I like variety and don’t care if I end up with red, white, blue and yellow potatoes! 

 

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