Potatoes are always present everywhere you go. They never fail to be present in one of the aisles in your local supermarket since they are a staple ingredient in the kitchen. These crops are very easy to grow, and they give abundant harvests, so many people like growing them. Since potato is an essential ingredient in many meals, it would be very beneficial to have these crops in your backyard. That way, you can plant and grow them on your own and then harvest them whenever you need them. One excellent variant for planting is the seed potato. Take note that they are not like your regular potatoes. But what exactly is a seed potato, and how do you grow them?
WHAT IS A SEED POTATO?
Unlike your regular potatoes, a seed potato is a grown potato that you need to replant to produce potato crops. It is one way to make potatoes accessible to farmers and plant growers. To create a seed potato, plant growers propagate regular potatoes asexually or vegetatively. It produces a “seed” that generally looks like your usual potatoes, and you will use this “seed” to grow your 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, identical to the parent potato crop. Despite being produced from your regular potatoes, there are some significant differences between a seed potato and your traditional potato crop.
- Your 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. On the other hand, 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. Seed potatoes undergo numerous tests because it is challenging to grow them without ensuring that they are virus-free. 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.
WHERE TO BUY SEED POTATOES?
Seed potatoes sold in groceries and supermarkets are usually not the best to grow at home. 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. You might also want to consider your climate before buying your seed potatoes. Choose one that the experts recommend in your type of climate. Seed potatoes are usually available in the market from late winter until the middle of spring.
WHAT DO YOU NEED BEFORE PLANTING SEED POTATOES?
Before planting your new crop, you must first provide the following requirements:
- Put your plant beds or containers in an area that receives 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day.
- Have an excellent organic fertilizer.
- Provide enough compost to help loosen your soil.
- Cut your seed potatoes into small pieces. Ensure that the parts are bigger than a large-sized egg and contain at least one to two “eye” buds.
- After cutting them into small pieces, spread them out and dry them indoors for at least a day or two so that the areas where you cut will heal to avoid rotting in cold and wet soils.
PLANTING A SEED POTATO
Seed potatoes thrive well in soil that is well-drained and in areas with cool temperatures. Plant the cut-up pieces of your seed potatoes in the soil about two to three inches deep. It is also better to plant them one foot apart. Water them deeply to begin their sprouting.
Remember that if you expose the young potato tubers to too much direct sunlight, they may turn green and may taste bitter. So 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.
Take note that plants need excellent watering during dry seasons, especially when they start forming flowers and tubers. But never put too much water since it can cause rotted roots and stems and may cause the development of dark and hollowed spots on your crops.