Do Potatoes have Seeds – How can I grow them?
Do potatoes have seeds? Yes they do. However, if you think that you will find them in the part that you eat then you are gravely mistaken. That is because a potato isn’t a fruit; it is a tuber or a kind of root that is packed with energy. This means that it does not need a seed to grow.
There are certain types of potatoes that do produce seeds. These are plants that sprout flowers aboveground while the food crop develops underground. This particular potato plant can produce a lot of flowers as it matures. During this time the flowering buds produce small green berries which in turn contain hundreds of tiny potato seeds. If you are confused remember that they look a lot like tomato seeds.
Farmers or home gardeners usually harvest the seeds by crushing the berries that contain them, submerging the seeds in water for a day and wait for them to settle at the bottom. The seeds are then used to grow seed potatoes. It is these seed potatoes that are actually used to grow a full crop of potatoes.
Growing Potatoes from Seed Potatoes
Unlike what the name implies seed potatoes aren’t seeds at all. They are actually full sized potatoes that have grown shoots in the potato eyes.
Always choose certified seed tubers to grow potatoes in your home garden. These are tubers that are guaranteed to be free from disease and viruses. It is also best that you do not use potatoes that you buy from grocery stores since they are treated to prevent them from sprouting. Such potatoes also take a lot longer to go as a result.
Cut large tubers into block shaped seed pieces (about 2 to 2 1/2 inches). Smaller tubers that measure 1 to 2 inches in diameter can be planted whole. Make sure that each seed piece has at least one eye on it. The tubers can be planted the same day. However there will be less of a chance for them rotting underground if the cut pieces are allowed to heal for a few days. Even most farmers prefer that cut seed potatoes callus over before they are left exposed overnight.
Potatoes can be grown in a wide variety of soils. However they fare best in soil that has been well drained. Therefore it is best that you avoid fine textured soils that contain a large percentage of silt or clay. This type of soil is usually not well drained and tends to produce a poorly shaped crop.
The Trench Method
Most gardeners use the trench method to grow potatoes at home. This involves placing seed potatoes in a dug trench with their eyes facing up. After that the potatoes are covered with a layer of soil. The soil needs to be hilled up along the sides of the plant continuously as it grows.
Why this is necessary is plain to see. Hilling prevents the tubers on the surface from being exposed to sunlight. But shouldn’t sunlight be good for them you ask? Not so. Direct sunlight can cause developing tubers to turn green and toxic. Hilling the soil on a regular basis also loosens the tubers thereby giving them more space to grow. Home gardeners usually do so when the plants are 4 to 6 inches in height. Once the plant starts to flower the tilling must stop.
There are some urban gardeners who stick the seed potatoes in the soil and cover them with a layer of mulch. More mulch can be added on as the plant begins to grow.