Thursday, February 16, 2012

Looking at Potato Flowers in a New Way That's Old

I've been reading a lot lately about the idea of growing potatoes from seed instead of from seed potatoes. I remember only vaguely and perhaps only once seeing fruit on one of my potato plants and even then it was someone else who noticed it and pointed it out to me. Flowers yes, always and pretty too, but no fruit. I'm not sure why I never thought about the reasons behind not planting from true seed. I think I thought that it was probably like a lot of things propogated from bulbs, in that getting a flower or fullsized plant would take a while. (technically potatoes are modified stems though, not bulbs, something I still find mind-blowing) I will be keeping an eye out this year for any potential berries because it could be that I just wasn't paying attention and they were there. I'll also be checking out this 1915 Potato Breeding and Selection manual, available for download from the potato farmer who's in the news these days as the face of the OSGATA's lawsuit against Monsanto, to learn a little more about potato breeding, vintage-style, just because I'm curious. Are my potato flowers producing male flowers that are sterile? Likely. I'm still going to be growing my potatoes this year from tubers, not true seed. Maybe someday in the future when there's more room for seedlings started at home, I'll try seed.

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