I just ordered some seed potatoes* online. They should be here by August 17--in time for fall planting. I’ll be growing mine in hay mulch, the Ruth Stout way. Potatoes (other than sweet potatoes) can be grown in the spring and fall. In our area, most gardeners recommend planting potatoes in mid to late August but by September 1. I ordered Yukon Gold (Botanical name: Solanum tuberosum) which is my favorite, but there are many other varieties as well. The Yukon Golds will mature within 60 to 80 days. Thus, if I plant them by August 20th, I can expect potatoes in time for Thanksgiving, if not before.
* New potato plants sprout from the buds (called eyes) on the surface of potatoes. These are the “seeds” for new plants. The eyes appear as dimples in the potato’s skin. Each eye has the potential to grow into a whole new plant. Purchase new certified seed potatoes at the start of each growing season. Potatoes are prone to many diseases (bacterial, viral, and fungal) that can easily be introduced to the garden when planting your own saved tubers. Purchasing and planting certified seed potatoes is the only way to ensure a “clean” crop. Certified seed potatoes are guaranteed to be free of disease, and they have not been treated with the anti-sprouting chemicals often used on grocery store potatoes.
I Grow Seed Potatoes in Hay to Minimize Work.
To plant seed potatoes in hay, prepare an in-ground garden bed or a raised bed for planting. Then, nestle each piece of seed potato down into the soil by no more than an inch or so. Some gardeners who plant seed potatoes in hay don’t even bury them. They simply place the pieces on top of the soil and then cover them with 5 or 6 inches of loose straw or hay. [I do cover mine with an inch of soil so as to discourage foraging critters.] As the plants grow, add more hay to the top, covering all but the very top leaves of the plant, until the bed has about 18-20 inches of hay. Although the layer of hay serves as an excellent mulch, keep the bed well-watered through the growing season.
When the mature potato vines die at the end of the growing season, wait two weeks then peel back the hay and collect the potatoes. Happy harvesting!