Monday, March 5, 2012

True Potato Seeds

This year I've decided to grow potatoes from potatoe seeds or what is called true potatoe seeds (tps).  True potato seeds are the little tiny things that you plant while potato seed is the potatos cut up and the eyes grow into new potato plants.  There's two reasons for this: 1) I'm cheap and I didn't want to purchase super expensive seed potato and 2) if you grow potatoes from true seeds then you can breed a type of potatoe that is adapted to your specific area.  How exciting is that!  

True Potato Seeds (left)  Seed potato (right)
I ordered a few varieties that were supposed to do well in the heat: Chieftain and Juanita, a mexican variety.  I figured these would be good places to start.  Basically, you just wait until the potato plant produces seed pods, collect the seeds and regrow them each year.  Natural selection means that the healthiest plants are the ones most adapted to the local environment, the high desert in my case, while the ones without the appropriate genetics die.  Eventually you create a whole new variety.
I've tried to grow potatoes here in the desert and it just hasn't worked well.  I've managed to pull up some weak, pathetic tubers.  I've spent a ton of money buying seed potatoes from growers in the midwest.  Now I want to grow my own potato.  Maybe I'll call it the Flip Flop Potato.
True Potato Seeds "are the ultimate in food security...Right now, with our commercial varieties, which are propagated by tissue culture in laboratories, we are at a bottleneck of genetic susceptibility.  If you save true potato seed, on the other hand, you are preserving the ancient diversity of the potato.  

Eighty-three percent of modern potato varieties have a sterility problem.  Most of them are not self-fertile like tomatoes.  Many of them don't produce much in the way of flowers or fruit.  After years of breeding for good flower production, I've gotten more free-blooming varieties.  I've had 353 berries on a single plant. You could plant five acres of potatoes out of that single plant!  If you save potato seed, you are prepaying for the future.  You can put the seed away, and it will keep for 20 years."