What is it for?
We grow a variety of vegetables from seeds, but growing potatoes from seeds is confusing for many. Most gardeners propagate potatoes with tubers, it is convenient and simple, so does the troublesome growing of potatoes from seeds make sense? And in general, how to grow potatoes from seeds?
Reproduction of potatoes with tubers has undeniable advantages: preservation of all varietal characteristics, simplicity of technology and the ability to quickly obtain a large amount of planting material. However, growing potatoes from tubers inevitably leads to the accumulation of bacterial, viral and fungal diseases in tubers. As a result, the variety gradually degenerates and the yield falls every year. The content of nutrients in the tubers of diseased potatoes is half that in healthy elite tubers. All these troubles can be avoided in two ways: once every few years, buy new elite potato tubers, or grow it yourself from seeds. Increasingly, choosing how to propagate potatoes, the seed method wins. It is worth warning gardeners that growing potatoes from seeds will require a lot of labor, especially in the first year.
So why is it beneficial to grow potatoes from seed?
- potato seeds are much cheaper than tubers;
- seeds take up little space, so you do not need to allocate a room, basement or cellar to store them;
- potatoes grown from seeds are not a carrier of diseases and have an increased resistance to late blight;
- when growing potatoes from seeds, the yield increases significantly.
What difficulties will you have to face?
- firstly, potato seedlings slowly develop a root system than other vegetable crops, so you have to make sure that the soil is as loose as possible, or until the seedlings reach a height of 3 cm, grow it in sawdust.
- secondly, potato seedlings are very capricious, they react sensitively to the slightest deviations from optimal conditions and stretch strongly with a lack of light.
- thirdly, potato seedlings are susceptible to various diseases, especially black leg, so it is unlikely that it will be possible to do without biological products.
- fourthly, potato shoots are small and fragile, so transplanting will require painstaking care and attention.
Sowing potato seeds
The peculiarities of the Russian climate make their own adjustments to the technology of growing potatoes from seeds, and it is unlikely that there will be any sense from seeds sown directly on the garden bed. Therefore, we will consider only the seedling method of growing. We remind you right away that high-quality potato seeds can be purchased only in specialized stores. You can try to grow potatoes from seeds collected by yourself. At the end of summer, berries are formed on potato bushes, and seeds are formed in them. You can collect and sow them, although the germination of such seeds may be low.
Before sowing the seeds, you will have to soak them in water for 48 hours. Increase germination speeds up the hardening of seeds with variable temperatures: the soaked seeds are left overnight in the refrigerator, and during the day they are kept indoors at room temperature. You can sow seeds for seedlings from the end of March. For sowing, you need to prepare boxes, which are filled with a mixture of garden soil and peat. Potato seeds are laid out in rows on the ground, 5 cm are left between the seeds, 10 cm between the rows. After the seeds are laid out, they are sprinkled with a thin layer of sand. It is better to water crops from a spray bottle so as not to wash them off. After planting, the boxes are covered with glass or foil and placed in a warm place. Seedlings usually appear in about two weeks.
When two true leaves appear on the seedlings, it will be necessary to make the first pick. This will require plastic cups or peat pots with a volume of at least 200 ml. Drainage holes must be made in the seedling pots. Further care of the seedlings consists in regular watering, feeding, and loosening. Usually, before planting in open ground, seedlings are fed twice, the first time with ammonium nitrate, and the second time with complex fertilizer.
Planting potato seedlings in the garden
When the threat of frost has passed, potato seedlings can be planted in open ground. Usually 40-day seedlings are planted, which have 5-6 true leaves. Potato seedlings are placed according to the scheme 70×10 or 70×30. With a thickened planting scheme, you can get a larger number of tubers, but their size will be smaller than with a thinned planting. For seedlings, you will need to dig holes 10 cm deep and add a little humus to them. The holes are watered, and then the seedlings are buried in them. A stem with young leaves should remain on the surface.
Seedling care is the most standard: loosening, hilling, watering. In order to protect young seedlings from temperature extremes, you can cover the bed with a film or non-woven covering material. It will be possible to remove the shelter when the seedlings gain strength.
In the first year, of course, you will not get a high harvest that will feed the whole family. In the first year after sowing, tubers weighing up to 50 grams grow. With proper agricultural technology, you can get up to 1 kg of tubers from a bush, and even more when grown indoors. The next year, by planting these mini-tubers, in the fall you will harvest super-elite potatoes, in the fourth year the harvest will be simply elite, starting from the sixth year the potatoes will be normal, the yield will begin to decline and you will have to repeat the process of growing potatoes from seeds.
We answered the question “how to grow potatoes from seeds”, and if the gardeners decide that it is troublesome, we recall that these efforts are fully justified. After all, growing potato seedlings guarantees you that for at least five years you will grow elite potatoes in your garden, free from viruses and diseases, and get an excellent harvest.