What are Seed Potatoes?

Potatoes, being one of the easiest vegetables to grow, are inherent to every food dish. No matter where you are in the world, you will always find potatoes in vegetable aisles in your local supermarket.

Since potato is an essential ingredient in many meals, it would be very beneficial to have these crops growing in your backyard. Being one of the easiest crops to grow, you can plant and grow them on your own and harvest them when needed.

Take note that seed potatoes are not like your regular potatoes. Their plantation and harvesting are slightly different from other vegetables. Instead of being planted as seeds of flowers, seed potatoes grow straight from root structures.

But there is a lot more to seed potatoes that have boosted their domestic popularity over the years. Want to start a seed potato plantation in your backyard, here’s everything you need to know about it. Also, check out https://www.bestaucasinosites.com/online-pokies/ to find out the best online pokies in Australia. 

What are Seed Potatoes?

Unlike what the name suggests, seed potatoes are standard full-grown potatoes otherwise called tubers that you need to replant to produce future potato crops. Considering they are grown by potato structures, the newly grown potatoes have a similar genetical makeup to parent potatoes.

Gardeners use vegetative propagation to transform your regular potato into a seed. These seeds are then sown on earth to produce potato crops. So technically, a potato seed is a small piece from the whole potato tubers. It contains a growing bud that will eventually grow into a new potato plant.

Due to their identical genetic makeup, seed potatoes are prone to many soil-borne diseases as well as bacterial and fungal infections. These diseases can destroy the entire crop therefore, it is vital to ensure that the potatoes are disease-free.

A common strategy to prevent any such unwelcoming scenarios is by avoiding several susceptible plantations of the same potato. Seed potatoes are meant to be grown a limited number of times to ensure their immunity from diseases. You can also click here to see the list of the best nz online casinos

Regular Potatoes vs. Seed Potatoes

The regular potatoes you may find in grocery stores were treated with sprout inhibitors. It prevents potatoes from developing growing points called “eyes” while stored inside the refrigerator or on the shelves. They aren’t dependent on the seasonal output and are available throughout the year in grocery stores. On the other hand, domestic plant growers do not treat seed potatoes with sprout inhibitors. 

Buying seed potatoes assures you that the crops are disease-free. Before they allow farmers to sell out seed potatoes, they undergo many tests for a panel of diseases. If they pass these tests, that is when the government issues a “disease-free” certificate. Seed potatoes that test positive for diseases and viruses are not allowed for selling.

Considering the various quality assurance tests, seed potatoes are free of any harmful chemical spray. Making them healthier for consumption compared to regular potatoes.  If you plant infected seed potatoes, diseases may also infect your soil and other crops. So, if you want to have your seed potatoes, make sure to buy them from trusted sources to avoid further damage to your other plants. 

Right Time to Plant Seed Potatoes

The sprouting and growth of seed potatoes are directly influenced by the sun. Likewise, the cold weather can also damage the planted potatoes. Early spring season or a month before the first snow of winters are ideal for seed potato plantation. Seed potatoes foster significantly in 45-degree Fahrenheit or above soil temperature.

Potato plants can tolerate lower temperatures until the freezing point. So, if you live in an area where cold winter temperatures do not fall below the freezing point, you can harvest your crop as late as December. However, it’s better to harvest it before extreme weather to conserve the true essence of the crop.

Where to Buy Seed Potatoes?

Many plant growers recommend buying seed potatoes in your local garden centers, nurseries, or through trusted online sites. When buying your seed potatoes, you may want to choose a firm seed free from blemishes. It is alright to buy a seed potato with short green sprouts. However, it would be best to avoid potatoes that already formed white, thin, and long sprouts. These kinds are weak, and they would most likely break off as you plant them.

Things to Do Before Starting Seed Potato Plantation

As we have discussed above, sunlight initiates aggressive rooting and sprouting in the plant and ensures the production of a better quality plant. Seed potatoes prefer acidic soils ranging from 5.0 – 7.0 pH for better growth. But considering their high fertility, seed plants adapt to poor soils as long as it is aerated and loose.

A common mistake that most home gardeners commit is sourcing their seed potatoes from standard grocery stores. These potatoes are inducted with inhibitors that limit or inhibit sprouting to keep the produce fresher for a long time.

Planting a Seed Potato

Seed potatoes thrive well in soil that is well-drained and in areas with cool temperatures. It is better to place the seed potatoes in a cool place that gets sufficient sunlight for the first 2 – 4 weeks. Although the potatoes can sprout even in dark places, the shoots are usually pale and weak.

Pre-sprouting or chitting

Potato chtting prior to planting out

If you want the plantations to have better stem growth, you can also ‘chit’ the potatoes. Chitting is a pre-sprouting process that enhances the growth of sprouts before being planted. The procedure can take 2 – 4 weeks to the growth process but facilitates a quicker and better potato yield.

Cutting Potatoes

Although seed potatoes can be planted as a whole, they will exhibit diminished growth later on. Each potato has more than one eye or bud, that has the potential of turning into an entire plant. Cutting the potato into pieces seems a better choice because it allows you to yield more plants from a single potato.

Cut 2-inch pieces of a potato in a way that each piece contains at least two buds/eyes. If your potatoes haven’t sprouted, you can force them to sprout them by placing them under bright sunlight at room temperature for a few days.

Planting the Sprouted Potato Pieces

Once the sprouts have grown up to 1 inch in length, plant the cut-up pieces of your seed potatoes in the soil about two to three inches deep. Make sure the sprouts are facing up with a light layer of soil on top for early shooting.  Prefer planting them in a linear order with a one-foot distance between them for overall growth.

Keeping the potatoes watered is the key especially if you are planting in early summer. 1 – 2 inches of water is necessary for the optimum growth of potatoes. You can increase the exercise once flowers start to bloom and plants begin to form tubers. Still, refrain from overwatering as it can make the roots and stem wilt and form dark spots on the potatoes.

Remember that if you expose the young potato tubers to too much direct sunlight, they may turn green and may taste bitter. It is essential to cover the soil and the crops with dirt or mulch as they develop. Repeat this every week or two until you bury six to eight inches of the plants’ stem. 

Harvesting Mature Potatoes

Closeup of female farmer planting organic potato in fertile garden soil and covering it with ground. Concept of growing and planting organic vegetables.
Closeup of female farmer planting organic potato in fertile garden soil and covering it with ground. Concept of growing and planting organic vegetables..

If you see the flowers turning yellow, it’s time to start preparing for the harvest. Make sure to wait at least 2 – 3 weeks after the flowering ends to start the harvest. Start by lightly digging around the plants and looking for slightly bigger potatoes for eating. Leave the small potatoes as they have more room to grow.

In case you are planning on storing the potatoes, harvest the crop after 3 weeks of foliage ceasing. Use a garden fork to spread the potatoes out and let them stay for two to three days to dry out and then shift them into a protected storage facility.

FAQs: Everything You Need to Know About Seed Potatoes

What makes seed potatoes different from regular potatoes?

Regular potatoes as the name suggests are the ones you can find in a grocery store. These potatoes are produced by large-scale commercial farms and are generally meant for eating. Whereas, seed potatoes are meant for plantation (domestically in most cases). They are commonly found in nurseries and garden centers.

Can I plant potatoes from a grocery store?

Regular potatoes that are available in grocery stores are infused with inhibitors that limit sprouting which makes them unfit for plantation. However, sometimes the inhibitor can wear off, potatoes may sprout a bud on top. In case that happens, you can readily use that for plantation.

When should I begin my seed potato plantation?

The right time for plantation mainly depends on the climate conditions of the area you live in. However, the spring months of March, April, and May are ideal for planting seed potatoes. These plants can be harvested after four months, a few weeks after the flowering has ceased. Some variants can also be planted in mild-winter seasons.

Is it necessary to cut pieces of seed potatoes before plantation?

No, it is not compulsory. Seed potatoes can be planted as a whole. However, cutting the pieces with one or two buds each can help in the better growth of the plant. Because each bud on a potato can form into a new plant under the right conditions allowing you to grow several plants from a single potato.

Final Verdict

Seed potatoes are a perfect way of enriching your backyard garden with evergreen vegetables. There are several ways you can plant seed potatoes, depending on the type of space you have. Whether you plant them in the ground, a container, or in straw make sure there is enough sunlight, the right temperature, and sufficient availability of water.