I was asked a simple question “Where’s the best place to buy seed potatoes? Should I get them online or from a garden centre?” Like most simple questions, the answer isn’t so simple.
Saving Seed Potatoes
You can save your own seed potatoes from the previous crop, which is obviously the lowest cost option. The problem here is twofold: first, can you keep them in good, un-sprouted condition and second disease.
Storing Seed Potatoes
Commercially seed potatoes are stored in dry controlled conditions at a stable temperature between 6ºC & 10ºC. Too warm, too humid or temperature changes can cause the tubers to prematurely sprout.
It’s not impossible to save your own seed but it isn’t that easy. As a rule, maincrop potatoes keep better and are more tolerant to poor conditions than early varieties.
Disease in Seed Potatoes
Commercial seed potatoes are controlled and disease free. Scottish seed potatoes were considered the best due to the lack of disease. Viral disease of potatoes are spread by aphids and the Scottish climate means no aphids.
Home seed saving means diseases will pass into the tubers reducing growth and yield. It is critical that the stock is of good quality and disease free. It is unlikely that home growers south of Scotland will be able to maintain disease free stock beyond the third generation.
Where to Buy Seed Potatoes
Many allotments will bulk buy a range of seed potatoes in 25kg sacks and split them down to supply the plotholders with smaller quantities at a low prices. They’ll probably only offer a limited range but they’ll be selected varieties that do well in the area.
Good Garden Centre
Unfortunately good garden centres are a bit of a rarity nowadays. Many just sell pre-packs of seed potatoes selected by head office. We’re fortunate to have a really good garden centre relatively near – Tyddyn Sachau Nurseries.
They offer 45 varieties of seed potato in open bins. You basically pick your own and pop them into a bag. The varieties are those that are popular in our area. You can just pick up a few tubers or a few kilos as you wish. As you pick your own, you are in control They charge £2.25 per kilo.
Chain & DIY Stores
I looked at Wilko who offer a range of 17 varieties. Some in small packs of 5 – around half a kilo for £2.00 and some in 2 kilo nets for £3.00. They offer click & collect so you can avoid a wasted journey or home delivery for £4.95 (free with a total spend over £75.00)
I have bought seed potatoes from Wilko before but the last time the quality wasn’t up to standard when I opened the net. Our Wilko is 15 miles away and it wasn’t worth the petrol and time to return them.
The problem all online suppliers of seed potatoes have is the delivery cost bumps up the price.
The major seed suppliers offer seed potatoes and generally their quality is good. The prices are approximate as some varieties are more expensive. They also do selection offers etc. Organic seed potatoes command a higher price.
Suttons / Dobies / Thompson & Morgan – 1kg around £6.99, 2kg around £9.99 plus delivery of £6.99 per order
Marshalls basically 4.99 a kilo plus a standard delivery rate of £5.99
Kings Seeds offer 2.5kg packs at £6.20 with a delivery charge of £3.50 per order. Kings living up to their reputation of supplying quality at a good price for serious home growers.
Ebay have a number of suppliers running around £6.00 for a kilo to £2.90 per kilo for 10kg including delivery. The question to ask with Ebay is “Do you trust the supplier?” I’ve had excellent quality and service from some, awful from others.
Specialist Potato Growers
Jamieson Brothers in Scotland offer 10 tuber packs around £5.49, some larger packs of 2kg for £6.49 and free delivery. You can also get 10% off your first order.
Potato House offer 6 tuber packs around £5.65, 1kg for £7.35 with free delivery. Multiple packs of 5 or more can be combined for a discount of £1.00 per pack.
If you can get the varieties that you want, the most economical route is to buy your seed potatoes locally, preferably supporting a good garden centre. If you can’t get what you want locally, then check out the online suppliers starting with Kings Seeds and the specialist potato growers.
Prices quoted as a guideline only and current in January 2023. Information believed to be correct but check for yourself prior to purchase
Because I get so many questions about potatoes, I’ve produced a 76 page e-book on them.
It covers different growing methods as well as coping with diseases and problems, harvesting, storing and some great recipes too. In fact, everything I think a gardener needs to know and more. I hope it answers all your potato questions.
Available to download now, £3.50 – Potatoes – A Guide to Growing, Harvesting, and Storing