What Are Seed Potatoes?
When you first hear the term ‘seed potatoes’, you’d be forgiven for thinking it refers to potatoes grown from seed. That’s not quite the case, though. Seed potatoes are actually potato tubers – specifically, ones that are used to propagate a new plant with the same traits.
Seed potatoes are effectively the same part of the plant as the potatoes you eat at the dinner table. You’ve probably noticed one or two sprouting at the back of the pantry! This is due to the ‘eyes’ on the tubers, which are buds that potato plants naturally use to reproduce themselves in the wild in addition to setting seed.
True potato seed is not generally used in cultivation, the reason being that the potatoes don’t grow true to seed. Growing potatoes from seed can be done but this method is rarely used in cultivation, because the plants don’t grow true to seed.
Certified Seed Potatoes
If you want to grow potatoes at home, it’s not as simple as grabbing a sprouting potato from your pantry.
These will often grow into a new plant, but in many cases will have low yield or, worse, carry a disease that gets passed on through each round of propagation. This is particularly true after several successive plantings from the same potato stock.
There is a solution, though: certified seed potatoes. In short, these take the guesswork out of growing healthy, high-yield potatoes. They are grown in agriculturally controlled field conditions, which ensures they’re disease-free and true to type.
The plants that grow from them are generally more vigorous and give a higher yield than those propagated from kitchen offcuts. The result is less time wasted on plants that won’t grow well.
Seed Potatoes Varieties
A key benefit of using certified seed potatoes for your home crop is being able to grow the exact variety you want. The humble potato comes in a surprisingly wide range of shapes, sizes, textures and even colours – think pink, white and purple varieties, and an array of flesh types suited to different cooking methods. Some favourites include:
Nadine is a high yield variety with white skin and creamy flesh. It’s excellent for salads and boiling and very good for mashing and roasting.
Royal Blue has dusky purple skin and yellow flesh, with slightly sweet nutty flavour. This is a good all-rounder, suited to most cooking methods.
Dutch Creams are large, with yellow skin and rich, creamy yellow flesh. These are excellent for salads, boiling, roasting and mashing.
Kennebec is a large potato with cream coloured skin and flesh. Another all-rounder, this variety is particularly good for chips
Red Norland has dark red skin and white flesh. Suited to most cooking uses, this early cropping variety is also excellent for ‘new’ potatoes.
Pink Eye is a cream and purple potato with waxy yellow flesh. These are ideal for roasting, mashing, boiling and as ‘new’ potatoes when harvested early.
White Star is a larger potato with smooth cream coloured skin and flesh. This all-rounder is best suited to warmer climates, where it shows excellent yields.
Looking to buy seed potatoes online? Garden Express stocks a great range of certified seed potato varieties, including all your favourites for roasting, mashing, baking and more. If you’re not sure what to do once your tubers arrive, take a look at our handy guide growing guide for seed potatoes. You might be surprised at how little effort it takes to grow this kitchen staple in your garden.