The seed potatoes are showing up at the local nurseries in bins and bags and baskets. The most likely seed potatoes you will find are the Red Lasoda, and Kennebec which both do well locally. I did see some “Wisconsin Potatoes” for sale in a bag at Lowes. I can’t imagine that the corporate headquarters at Lowes, ponders what potatoes do well in each region and sends those potatoes to those regions. I’d rather stick with what others before me have grown and had success with. I have had success with both Red Lasoda and Kennebec. Natural Gardener had potatoes a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve not been there since. Buck Moore Feed and Supply usually gets them in as well as Callahans. Many folks have success with potatoes they buy at Whole Foods, although I have not tried this.
If you do decide to try your hand at potatoes, you have lots of planting options. If they are small, you can plant the whole thing. If they are larger, just cut the potato into halves or quarters, making to leave an eye on each section, as this is what will form the roots. The standard method for growing is to plant the potatoes in a trench 10-12 inches down, then cover with loose soil or compost. Once the green plant appears above the ground 6-8 inches, add more soil right up against the stem. You continue this “hilling” process for every 6-8 inches of plant.
While this is the preferred method, I just planted mine last year in my homemade compost and let nature take its course. I would have had more yield than I did, had I followed the “rules” but I had more than enough for me and to share.
Since I’m attempting to rely more on what I grow in my own garden than before, I’m hestitant to plant potatoes in my garden, because they will be there well into the tomato planting season and they take up lots of room. The plants get huge. So, I’m pondering planting them in a very large container, and using the hilling method for increased yield. I have not figured out what that container will be just yet, any suggestions? I’ve heard that old tires work, but I’m not too excited about the aesthetic that tires will bring to my yard and I don’t really know what’s in old tires anyway. Cinderblocks might be an inexpensive route, or a whiskey or wine barrel.
Plant potatoes mid to late February, into March, Zone 8. For best harvesting results, don’t use a pitchfork. I skewered several potatoes that way.