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Growing True Potato Seed

In my quest for growing nothing but heirlooms in my garden I was met with dilemma or roadblock. How to grow potatoes without ever having the need to buy more spuds to plant.

Something I didn't know was that planting potatoes from spud from last year's harvest makes the crop more and more susceptible to pests and diseases. Because in essence you're really just planting a clone of the parent plant even if you try and save from only the best looking plants.

So of course this didn't make much sense because potato farmers the world over are growing potatoes just fine commercial and domestic right? So how do they do it? They can't keep planting the same spuds over and over and over again then we'd all be suffering from a famine of striking similarity to the one that hit Ireland (Or was it Scotland?) decades ago.

One method I read about said that potato farmers isolated their plants on an island free of aphids and bred them there before shipping them off the main land for sale. Alas...I am without my own little island in the sun.

The next method which I think is a bit more practical to the average gardener is landrace or a better title, 'survival of the fittest.' There's a few people I've read of that plant potatoes from both spud and from true potato seed. True potato seed comes from small green, cherry tomato like, fruit which holds between 100-150 tiny seeds. Growing from seed is considered unreliable by some because the tubers it produces might not be like the mother plant.

But the idea behind growing both spud and true seed was that you were reintroducing genetic diversity when the plants cross-pollinate. Keeping the gene pool fresh shall we say. Then you collected the best spuds for replanting and seeds and the cycle continues.

You could even grow a potato variety that was better suited to your area with an increased resistance to early/late blight, scab, etc. or could harvest early or late and store better.

Rather long-winded but I was wondering if anyone here has tried growing potatoes from true seed and if they had any luck. Or if anyone finds this interesting and thinks it would be nice to try.



  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,160

    Would spuds produce a crop from seed within one growing season?

    My other thought is that you would no longer have an heirloom variety. Named varieties won't seed to produce the named variety (just like any other cultivar)

  • OdisOdis Posts: 6

    Having an heirloom variety my not be possible, I was afraid of that. I guess it doesn't really matter as long as I can grow what I need each year without having to restock or buy more seeds...or spuds.

    The seed pod or fruit is supposed to be produced in one season but I don't think every variety will do that. Most potatoes you grow from spud have been engineering or grown to not produce the seed pods in favor of higher yields. I think that's probably why it's advised to pick the fruits off after picking the amount of seeds you need so more tuber's will grow.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 10,703

    If grown from seed, it's unlikely a potato plant will be able to grow tubers large enough to harvest for use in just one growing season, but you could save those small tubers and use them as 'seed potatoes' for the following year.  As you say, not all varieties will set fruit though so you would be limited to using those that do.  It is indeed possible and I've had small potato plants appear which clearly came from self-sown seeds rather than 'volunteer' potatoes left in the ground as they were rooted very close to the surface and there was no sign of any tubers.  New varieties come into existence this way of course but it takes years before enough tubers can be produced to make it commercially viable.  That doesn't stop us trying it ourselves and having fun though! image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    Experimentation is a fine thing. Commercial firms are doing it all the time; but they have the set up and money to have hundreds of failures before they find a potato they will be able to market.

    They are all looking for the Holy Grail of a potato resistant to scab and blight.

    One little correction; seed potatoes are not grown in lovely warm spots, rather they are produced in cold places where aphids don't thrive.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 69,016
    Welshonion wrote (see)
    ....  One little correction; seed potatoes are not grown in lovely warm spots, rather they are produced in cold places where aphids don't thrive.

    Traditionally Scotland produces the best virus-free seed potatoes.

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    And Northern Ireland. Eg Ulster - too numerous to name!
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 9,374

    What about Jersey Royals?

    Too many hands in too many pockets
    Not enough hands on hearts
    Too many ready to call it a day
    Before the day starts
  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    Jersey Royals are a trade name of new potatoes grown on Jersey. The seed potatoes we can buy are International Kidney and they are probably grown where most seed potatoes are grown. Not on Jersey!

    I've spent many a long day sorting seed spuds using a sorter the spuds shovel in one end and on the way seed would go through the riddle and the main spuds into sack and weighed all depended on how heavy the variety cropped as to how many seed you kept. Renewing seed is always the best option. This also applied to the grain we kept back as seed when its exhausted buy in new.

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 18,324

    That wouldn't be the Irish one then, Philip. My ancestors were driven out of their native land in the 1840s by it.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
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