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Information and discussion for successfully cultivating potatoes, the world's fourth largest crop.

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Old July 2, 2017   #1
NarnianGarden
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Default First year trying TPS growing

.. I am trying to grow potatoes from true seeds, and so far I would say it has NOT been a success - tomatoes are so much easier to grow than these!!
The seedling (only one survived) from true seeds was so tiny, hardly grew at all when indoors, and due to a cold spring/summer, I was only able to plant it later in June.
(Tomatoes were all started early and grew vigorously, as always.)
Honestly, I am disappointed.. the idea seemed great, but the novelty soon wore out, when the leaves just didn't get on growing.
The varity is a Russian one, supposedly early..

If ever potatoes, it will be from tubers. No need for this bother again
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Old July 6, 2017   #2
NarnianGarden
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The seedling is growing somewhat. Not giving up hope yet - perhaps I do get to see flowers. That would be something - even if I don't get potatoes
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Old July 7, 2017   #3
Starlight
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Don't give up hope. TPS's are different than growing from tubers. I start my seeds in tiny 1" x 1" seed trays. When the roots start coming out the bottom I step them up into a six" pot. Then into a one or two gallon. I keep mine in pots. When I put in the ground the underground critters eat taters and plants.

Now sometimes I didn't see any flowers on my plants, but at end of season when I dumped the pots, potatoes would all be there. TPS are a bit more work but very nice when you get buckets full of nice small potatoes. Just don't over water them. They like to be on dry side.
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Old July 7, 2017   #4
NarnianGarden
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Thanks Starlight. I am hopeful - trusting that in two months there will be small potatoes
The variety is an early Russian one, well, not so early now, but hopefully relatively fast, once established...
Mine is in a pot, no space in the ground for large plants.. Perhaps it can be taken indoors when the first frost hits, just like a tomato container.
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Old July 7, 2017   #5
Starlight
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I don't see why not. I would just make sure that they stay in a warm and sunlit place. When you think the plant is ready, before dumping the whole thing, I would gently dig around and pull out one potato and make sure they fully developed. If you see any green on the skin coloring, let em grow some more. Sure don't want you getting sick.
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Old July 7, 2017   #6
NarnianGarden
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Yep, growing potatoes is a normal thing here - it goes back to generations, as potato has been our staple food for a long time. This TPS method, however, is totally new, and my parents probably think I'm nuts trying to get some crop from a tiny seed
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Old July 7, 2017   #7
MdTNGrdner
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It's good to try new (old) things!
Keep us posted as to how it goes.
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Old July 9, 2017   #8
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NarnianGarden, don't give up hope. I failed in multiple ways my first year growing TPS. It IS different than growing tomatoes from seed, so you certainly are not unique in your experience. My first year I lost all be 3 of about 180 seedlings. And only one of the three produced a tuber, and that wasn't worth keeping.

There is a learning curve to it, but once you figure it out, it isn't too difficult. The plants are smaller, and more fragile than tomatoes, so they do need to be treated differently, especially when small. A few things I would recommend, that I learned the hard way:

1 Use sterile germination mix, not potting soils, and not organic mixes. The potting soils and organic mixes have living organisms in them, which can contribute to damping off.
2 Another thing to prevent damping off is to only water from the bottom, not the top, once seed has germinated. This encourages the seedlings to root deeply. The top of the soil needs to remain dry.
3 Use liquid fertilizers, and feed from the bottom, just like watering.
4 Let the soil dry out. Water no more than twice per week if the growing area is not dry. I grow mine in my damp basement, so I only water once per week.
5 As soon as they germinate, get them under as bright sunlight or daylight bulbs. And get the bulbs as close to the leaves as possible. I lower mine to <1cm above the leaves for several weeks, and then raise them incrementally to 1cm above the highest leaves.
6 T8 bulbs are the minimum intensity bulbs you should use. T5's are better, and the more bulbs the better. T12's don't really produce intense enough light for TPS seedlings. They can be grown with T12's but plants tend to look spindly.
7 Germination can take more than 2 weeks with some TPS seeds. Germination tends to vary quite a bit depending on seed age and variety. Some are 4-5 days, others may take 3 weeks. Patience is needed to allow time for them to germinate. Seed under one year also does not germinate well. Germination inhibitors tend to delay germination until the seed is 2 or more years old. I still germinate 1 year old seed, but just expect lower germination rates.
8 Germination rates without chemical treatments can vary from 5% to 90%. I tend to average about 60% germination, with probably 40-50% if it is one year old seed. Seed older than 10 years may not germinate well unless it had been frozen.
9 Seedlings like to be transplanted at least once - I do this at about 4-6 weeks, burying all but the top layer of leaves. This allows the plant to root more deeply and develop more layers of roots. It can be done earlier, but plants are more fragile when smaller. Some people like to transplant several times during the first 8-12 weeks. I sometimes will transplant into the same size container, I just stuff the plant in lower and coil the roots and stem lower.
10 Seedlings often take 10-12 weeks after germinating before they are ready to transplant outdoors. When they are 4-6" tall, they are usually ready.
11 Most TPS seedlings will take longer to grow in the first year than in subsequent years when grown from tubers. Early varieties sometime senesce and are growing tubers by 8-10 weeks, and often tubers from these plants are quite small in the first year. It does not necessarily mean they will produce low yields when grown from tubers. The correlation to make is that they are early varieties and will bulk earlier than most plants.
12 TPS seedling hills rarely have yields of more than 1 lb. Some do, but those are rare, and most of those are ones that last 150+ days before senescing. That does not necessarily mean they will produce more than other TPS plants that senesced earlier in the same year. It is difficult to gauge yield until you regrow the tubers of each seedling.
13 I have come to the conclusion that, with some exceptions of highly inbred high yielding lines (not what I want), it is probably unrealistic to expect high yields with plants grown from TPS in the first year. That does not mean it is not worth doing, and anyone that truly likes playing around with genetics and experimenting can find TPS growing quite satisfying. It just means that TPS evaluation is really just not a one year evaluation.
14 Expect a percentage of seedlings to die. I used to want to baby every plant, but have gradually come to the conclusion that the ones that die are self selecting themselves out of the genepool, for various things. I want plants that can handle drought and don't need babying, so I do not water once I plant them. The ones that die failed to thrive, in my growing conditions. This points to one of the main advantages of growing TPS seedlings, that you can select for the ones that do well in your local environment, with all your local climate conditions.

Hope that's helpful. Feel free to ask any questions, as well.
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Old July 9, 2017   #9
NarnianGarden
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Thanks for the extensive info! Most of mine died too in the early infancy - one seedling is alive and well, planted in the container. I try to keep it on the dry side, but with a heat wave expected to hit the area next week, I will have to give it some water so it can grow and develop.
What I got now, looks healthy enough to survive, and hopefully produce something edible (lol).
(Flowers would be a nice bonus - just to see them, as most potato varieties in this country do not grow flowers - they're sterile... )

I might re-pot it if it seems to take off growing, but so far the container seems to be enough. I am surprised at the slow pace. Tomatoes are super easy, and fast, compared to this...
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Old July 9, 2017   #10
mjc
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Don't really expect much in the way of edible tubers this year.

You will probably produce quite a few small (marble to golf ball sized ones). Yeah, you can eat a couple of the bigger ones, just to make sure it's worth keeping (not all TPS are going to be 'keepers') and then plant the rest next spring. Then you will probably get a really good crop next year.
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Old July 9, 2017   #11
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Double post...
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Old July 10, 2017   #12
NarnianGarden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjc View Post
Don't really expect much in the way of edible tubers this year.

You will probably produce quite a few small (marble to golf ball sized ones). Yeah, you can eat a couple of the bigger ones, just to make sure it's worth keeping (not all TPS are going to be 'keepers') and then plant the rest next spring. Then you will probably get a really good crop next year.
OK. However, I was under the impression that the whole idea of TPS was to avoid saving of tubers ..? I'll be glad if I get something large enough to see (and taste), I won't most likely try to save anything over winter (no proper place either, the cold storage isn't suited for that).
BUt I will save the experience and enjoy the ride.
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Old July 10, 2017   #13
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I have saved micro-tubers as small as a pea from TPS for successful re-plant. The small tubers were from poorly timed transplants.
Let the tubers harden off by taking tubers after the vine dies.
Store them in an open container in your fridge vegetable drawer until planting time.
You may lose a couple, just check once in a while and toss the rotten ones.
If you have a larger tuber from a plant you like, and want to get a lot of plants from it you can use the pull sprout method to get a lot of plants from a single tuber.
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Old July 10, 2017   #14
NathanP
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Quote:
OK. However, I was under the impression that the whole idea of TPS was to avoid saving of tubers ..?
You will have edible tubers, however the majority of them will be marble to golf ball sized in all likelihood.

TPS is more valuable in being able to develop virus-free seed tubers, rather than to avoid saving tubers. Yes, you can get a viable crop with TPS the first year, but it won't be much that is high yielding. If you lived in an area that had 150 or more growing days, that becomes more possible, as many TPS will keep growing and bulking tubers up until the vines die back from frost. But for short season locations, you are probably better off thinking of TPS as a means to regenerate seed tuber stock that is healthy.
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Old July 10, 2017   #15
mjc
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Another way to grow them...start the seeds in the summer and grow in pots over the winter. You will have a crop of small tubers by spring planting time that can be used as 'seed stock' then.
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