Many home gardeners include potatoes in their vegetable selections. Potatoes grow as annuals in many gardens, although they actually belong to the perennial classification of plants. Potatoes produce weak stems and foliage, while manufacturing thick, tuberous roots beneath the ground. These roots provide the edible portions of the potato plants. Potatoes grow from small starts, or eyes, formed on harvested roots. Recycle harvested potatoes for use as seed potatoes.
Harvest mature potatoes from your garden soil. Carefully dig these out with a small hand shovel. Avoid nicking or damaging potatoes selected for use as seed potatoes. Brush the loose soil from the surface of the potatoes.
Place your harvested potatoes in a cool dry area until a few weeks before the anticipated planting date. Place the potatoes in a bag or box filled with sawdust to minimize moisture. Keep these stored potatoes at a temperature near 50 degrees F. Avoid early sprouting by limiting exposure to light during the storage period.
Remove the potatoes from storage a few weeks prior to placing in your vegetable garden. Lay the potatoes on a flat surface and cover with a slightly damp burlap bag. Place in a warm area to encourage sprouting. Remove and dampen the burlap with warm water periodically to provide humidity to the sprouting potatoes.
Cut sprouted seed potatoes into two or more sections, depending on size. Allow at least three sprouts, or eyes, per section when dividing. Avoid cutting up very small potatoes containing only a couple of sprouts. Plant these potatoes whole.
Prepare the soil for your seed potatoes shortly before placing them in the ground. Loosen the top 4 to 5 inches of the soil with a garden shovel and remove existing vegetation and debris from the planting site. Plant your seed potatoes about 4 inches deep in the loosened soil. Place them approximately 12 to 18 inches from one another. Keep the soil around the potatoes slightly moist as they mature, watering whenever the surface shows signs of dryness.