Seed Potatoes: From Seed to Harvest
March 14th, 2019
If you’ve never grown potatoes, this is the year to try it! Colorado is one of the top producers of potatoes in the US because they do so well in our climate. The plants are fairly easy to work with and imagine how rewarding it will be to cook with your own, homegrown potatoes. But how are they produced? Do potatoes have seeds?
What are Seed Potatoes?
While potatoes do flower and produce seeds, they are not typically grown from this method. Cross pollination can cause seeds to grow into a different variety, also known as not growing true to seed. Therefore, potatoes are often grown using what is called a ‘seed potato’. This ensures that the desired variety of potato will grow. A seed potato is part or all of an actual potato.
To grow from seed potatoes, it’s recommended to purchase them from a nursery like Fossil Creek Nursery. Choose potato varieties that work well in our northern Colorado climate (we have already done this for you with the varieties we carry). Potatoes from the grocery store are often treated with a growth inhibitor. This allows the potatoes to stay fresh longer and is great when you’re storing them in the pantry, but it also will not allow them to sprout as easily. In addition, it’s important to buy certified seed potatoes to make sure that diseases from the previous year are not carried over.
You may have seen potatoes with “eyes” before. Really this is just a bud, where the potato is beginning to grow into a plant. You can cut a potato into multiple pieces and plant these, as long as each piece has at least one eye. If you plant a potato or a piece with multiple eyes on it, your harvest will be greater in quantity, but each potato will be smaller. If you’re looking for large potatoes, plant pieces that only have one eye.
When it comes time to plant your seed potatoes, you’ll want to give your potato pieces a few days to dry indoors. This gives the cut areas time to heal and can help prevent rotting. Potatoes are very susceptible to viruses, so giving the wound time to develop a tougher layer will give the potato extra protection.
How to Plant Seed Potatoes
Plant the pieces cut side down, in rows, about two or three inches deep, and a foot apart. If you plant potatoes each year, rotate them throughout your garden so that they are not always in the same spot. Potato plants do best with lots of sun, water, and well-drained soil.
After about three months, you can harvest your potatoes! This is usually around 2-3 weeks after the plants have finished flowering. Dig around the plant, very gently, and remove the largest potatoes. The smaller ones can be left in the ground and will continue to grow.
Potatoes are a lot of fun and a hardy plant, almost guaranteeing you will get a decent harvest! Stop by Fossil Creek Nursery today to pick up your seed potatoes. We have several varieties and would be happy to give you advice on how to grow your own potato garden this year.