It's hard to beat the taste of a fresh potato dug right from your garden. Potatoes are a tuber that grows beneath the soil; the greenery of a potato plant is discarded at harvest and the tubers stored for the winter. The ability to store a potato's crop through a long winter has made this cool-climate tuber a traditional staple in the Western diet. All you need for planting in the spring is a few remnants of last year's crop. Planting potatoes is a simple way to add home-grown vegetables to your table.
Cut red potatoes into 1- to 2-ounce pieces using a sharp knife. Each piece should have one or more "eyes"--this is the divot in the potato skin that sprouts when you leave a bag of potatoes in the pantry for too long. Plant smaller 1- to 2-ounce potatoes whole.
Turn over the soil in your planting bed using a garden fork to loosen and aerate the soil. Add compost as you turn over the soil to improve nutrients and texture.
Dig 2- to 3-inch-deep holes 1 foot apart for your potato pieces. If you are planting multiple rows of potatoes, each row should be 2 to 3 feet apart.
Place one piece of potato or one small potato in each hole. Position the cuttings so that the eye or eyes are facing up. Plant whole potatoes so that the majority of the eyes are facing up.
Cover the potato cuttings with soil and pat down the area loosely with your hand. Water the area so that the soil is damp to a depth of 4 inches.
Pile dirt up around the developing green shoots to keep the tubers covered. As the potatoes develop add ½ inch of soil so that by harvest time the mounded soil is 4 to 6 inches high.
Harvest your crop in late summer when the foliage dies back. Use a garden fork to carefully dig the tubers from the soil. Be careful not to damage the potatoes during harvest.