Using seeds anyone can name their own variety
Ever hear that to grow potatoes you just cut up any old tuber and plant the pieces?
Well, you certainly can plant tubers, though they’re far more productive if planted whole, but what about planting potatoes by seed?
Growing potatoes from potatoes gives a genetically identical product, like cloning. It’s how registered and named potatoes like Yukon Golds and russets are so consistent. (Same for apples such as Granny Smith and Macintosh, by the way.)
But if you’re lucky enough to get a potato seed, the tubers that form will be a unique varietal.
Flash back to high school genetics, and you might recall how genetic data is stored in cells. Growing potatoes by planting tubers is a great way to produce more of the same, but to access the genetic diversity of potatoes (haven’t you always wanted to?) it’s the seeds you need.
Farmer Fiona Hamersley Chambers was given a satchel of potato seeds from South America four years ago, and has been having a blast growing unique varieties of potatoes on the sea bluffs at her Metchosin Farm since then.