Growing potatoes is easy and effective. The only things you really need are seed potatoes and dirt. No special tools or fancy lamps, although you can use those if you like. Seed potatoes, however, are non-negotiable. They’re crucial for growing potatoes, but where do you get them from?
Not everywhere sells seed potatoes, so what’s a gardener to do? Here’s a simple guide on how to find seed potatoes locally and online, and what to look for when choosing seed potatoes. Let’s dig in and find some potatoes for you!
Let’s first start off by understanding what seed potatoes are. The name “seed potato” is a little misleading, as it isn’t actually a seed. Seed potatoes are tubers used to sprout new potatoes. These new sprouts will be genetically the same as the parent. However. like seeds of any other plant, the purpose of seed potatoes is for gardeners to replant them so they can produce more potatoes.
Now, obviously which local places sell seed potatoes will vary depending on where you live. However, here are some key things to keep in mind when looking.
Some larger retailers and chains do sell seed potatoes, which does make them relatively easy to find, but it’s also worth looking into smaller stores. The internet can be a valuable resource, but sometimes the only option is to call and ask.
When in doubt, go to the farmer’s market! It can be a pain to get up early, and it doesn’t always mesh with everyone’s schedule, but the farmer’s market is a great choice! Being able to talk with the sellers directly is invaluable, as they can answer any questions you have and give you recommendations. Farmer’s markets and seed exchanges can also be a great way to find uncommon or heritage varieties that aren’t available at mass retailers.
The internet really does have a little bit of everything — including seed potatoes. There are plenty of online retailers, so we can’t cover them; however, we can highlight a few tips for buying online.
Amazon has a lot of vendors, which makes it a great place to start your search for seed potatoes. An important thing to keep in mind, though, is that some vendors who sell through Amazon also have their own websites. There may be special deals on one site or the other, so it’s worth looking at both.
Of course, there are also specialty stores. A great way to start is by finding a variety of potatoes you want and searching specifically for that. Some stores, such as Gurney’s and Chatham Farm Supply, put out catalogs that can be helpful in this endeavor.
If you’re buying seed potatoes in person, you may want to know what to look for when picking a good seed potato. Choose a potato that is firm, with a good, even color. Look for any signs of disease or rot.
If the potatoes are already sprouting, check the health of the sprouts. You want nice, thick sprouts. If they’re thin and pale, the potato may or may not still grow into a fine plant, but those sprouts will likely break off when the potato is planted.
Finally, ask about the specific variety of potato. Does it have any specific disease resistances? Is it more resistant to heat, cold, or drought than other potatoes? What can you expect from this potato?
When looking at your potato harvest, or even if you’ve happened to buy too many potatoes at the grocery store, you may think about leaving a few to the side and letting them sprout. Technically speaking, you can do that. Any potato will, given enough time, sprout and become a potato plant. However, here’s why that isn’t the best idea, if you have other options.
Seed potatoes are bred specifically for planting. That means they’ve been bred to have the best chance of sprouting, growing into a full plant, and producing other potatoes. They’re often given resistance to various diseases and conditions and are scientifically reliable.
Regular potatoes, whether they’re garden-grown or store-bought varieties, aren’t given quite the same treatment. They’re bred for flavor or texture and are less reliable for planting. The exception to this is heirloom or heritage varieties that haven’t changed in a long time, potentially hundreds of years in some cases. The last time they changed was before we began growing specific potatoes for planting, so they’re good to go.
You’re well on your way to getting seed potatoes for your garden. Just remember all these tips and you can’t go wrong. Look for firm, healthy seed potatoes, check out your local farmer’s market, get a catalog, and avoid planting regular grocery store potatoes that are meant for eating. Soon you’ll be able to get out in your garden and plant those seed potatoes for a bountiful harvest!
In the meantime, learn how to grow organic potatoes with our top tips!
- Cordyline care: how to make your cordyline plants thrive and bring the tropics indoors
- How late can you plant sunflowers and still see blooms? What you need to know about these beautiful giants
- Used tire planters: Genius upcycling or harmful to your health?
- Climate change gardening: Trees you can plant to fight climate change
- Do you live in climate zone 9b? Here’s a helpful guide on what’s best to plant