Last year, a couple farmers in West Carelton and I started year 1 of a project to locally adapt some important calorie crops to our region including sweet potatoes and potatoes from true botanical seed.
For the potato (Solanum tuberosum) part of the project, we grew out Blue Leslie x OP and another strain of mixed TPS. The former was chosen because of its drought tolerance. It turns out that it is also tolerant of other vagaries thrown at it including the non stop deluge that categorized the weather for 2017 and various pests. Foliage was very clean and unaffected by disease right up until I pulled them as well.
Flowers, on Blue Leslie x OP, varied in colour from white to blue. Apparently the white tends to self if I'm remembering correctly. Some certainly were heavy berry setters.
That's the great thing about True Potato Seed (TPS) growing compared to True Sweet Potato Seed (TSPS) in our climate. You could get enough seed to Johnny Potato seed everyone's garden many fold from a few well producing plants. The seed itself is as easy to start as a tomato as well.
Blue Leslie x OP
Intriguingly, the Blue Leslie x OP (Blue Leslie is a cross between domesticated potato and Solanum chacoense) all had somewhat woody stems. The progeny were mostly oblong like fingerlings or somewhat flattened ovals. They varied in skin colour. One was adorably bicolour but sadly that was lost in the freezing incident of December 2017. I was keeping the special offspring in a special room off the house but the door was left open by an unknown person. That night, it went down to -30C or less with a much colder windchill. Many tubers in there froze solid though luckily I did not lose the carrot, onion, sea beet or Yacon.
I will be giving pull started plants to a few participating farmer-partners to grow out and test in their field and will be growing out a number of interesting TPS this year to trial on site.
Thankfully, the tubers that were stored in The World's Worst Polytunnel cache's were intact despite December's extreme cold. At least one tuber has a beautiful bright yellow colouration with purple skin. I'm looking forward to taste tests this fall.
Kenosha Potato Project
Cultivariable's How To Grow True Potato Seed
Cultivariable's Potato Genetics Articles
All about growing, selecting and using edible plants in the Ottawa valley.