The Lost Art of Potato Breeding by Rebsie Fairholm

potatobreeding300Ever wondered why supermarket potatoes are so bland and boring? In the Andes, where potatoes originate, there are thousands of varieties with bright colours, beautiful markings, unusual shapes and variations of flavour and cooking quality. In the modern world, industrialised monoculture has reduced all this diversity down to a handful of near identical varieties. However, it’s incredibly easy to grow potatoes from seed, and every seed is full of unexplored diversity.  The Lost Art of Potato Breeding is the first book of its kind to provide a clear and practical guide for new or experienced gardeners interested in reviving this ancient practice.

Best known for her Daughter of the Soil blog, Rebsie Fairholm is an experienced heritage gardener that has successfully cultivated many rare and new varieties of vegetables, fruits and other plants.  In this smartly illustrated work she gives precise instructions on how to make seeds from potato berries, how to cross different varieties, how to choose which ones to experiment with, and how to keep newly created varieties growing into the future. She also offers fascinating examples from her own growing projects with all kinds of potatoes, from ordinary garden varieties to historic Scottish heirlooms and rare Andean landraces, in order to illustrate the rainbow of different colour possibilities.


The Lost Art of Potato Breeding bridges the gap between part-time hobbyist gardeners and big commercial breeders, in that it offers a concise history as well as succinct scientific explanations in a way that is both accessible and humorous, thus avoiding the overwrought technical verbiage that stultifies many botanical guides. Rebsie explains how our ancestors created their own vegetable varieties in their gardens and took it for granted as a completely normal thing to do; but then the commercial age came along and changed our habits, and consequently adventurous potato breeding became something of a lost art. This unique book is a small step towards changing that and gardeners will delight in all the beautiful and exciting possibilities.


Skylight Press is thrilled to offer The Lost Art of Potato Breeding as the first book in our new ‘Garden Alchemy’ series.  The book is now available from various retail outlets such as, or direct from the Skylight Press website.


About Daniel

Writer & Musician
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