Potatoes are rarely started from seed in the home garden. Instead, seed potatoes are used. Seed potatoes are small potatoes or potato pieces that have one or more growing buds, often called eyes, present on them. Purchasing seed potatoes from a reputable seed supplier and checking that they are labeled disease-free helps ensure that your potato crop remains healthy. Seed potatoes need some preparation prior to planting to help ensure that they establish well in the garden.
Set the potatoes in a shaded, warm spot 15 days prior to planting. Cover the potatoes with moistened straw mulch.
Sprinkle the mulch with water as necessary to keep it damp but not soggy. Check the potatoes after 10 days. Remove the potatoes from the mulch once the eyes begin sprouting or elongating. Otherwise, leave for an additional two days or until they begin sprouting.
Examine each seed potato and identify the growing eyes on each. Cut the potato into 1- to 2-inch pieces with a clean knife, ensuring each piece has at least one growing eye on it.
Spread out newspaper on trays or baking sheets. Set the seed pieces on the newspaper so that the cut sides are facing upward.
Place the trays of seed pieces in a warm, well-ventilated room for five to six days. The cut edges seal and scab over at this time, helping to prevent rot and disease once they are planted.