The potato seeds we put in the ground are actually mature potatoes or pieces of mature potatoes.
Sprouts grow from the "eyes" that develop on potatoes and, when planted whole or in pieces, are called seed potatoes.
Experienced gardeners often set aside their healthiest, blemish-free, potatoes for seed. There is some risk, however, of passing on defects and diseases from year to year by saving your own seed potatoes.
If you have access to a garden center or agricultural supplier you can buy potato seeds that are inspected and certified to be free of disease and often produce a better yield.
Potatoes from the grocery store are usually treated to prevent sprouting.
At a potato seed supplier you will have the added benefit of selecting from varieties that are best for your area.
Prepare Your Seed Potatoes for Planting
Seed potatoes can be planted whole, or cut into pieces with at least one eye per piece. Generally small potatoes will be planted whole and larger potatoes cut into pieces.
Seed potatoes with more eyes will grow to produce a larger quantity of potatoes however the potatoes may be smaller. Seed potatoes with fewer eyes will produce fewer, but larger, potatoes.
Cut your seed potatoes into smaller pieces two days before planting. This allows the cuts to callus or heal over slightly and prevents soil-borne diseases from infecting your potato crop.
Plant the whole or cut seed potatoes two to three inches deep in the soil. In a traditional garden, rows of potatoes will be about three feet apart; the potato seeds within the row should be planted about twelve inches apart.
Planting your potatoes in a different section of the garden each year will help prevent potato diseases from being carried over from year to year.
Depending on the warmth of the soil, your potato plants will begin to emerge one to three weeks after planting.