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How to Plant Potato Starts

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017
Potatoes grow from seed potatoes, not actual seeds.
Potato image by lefebvre_jonathan from Fotolia.com

Potatoes are a favored root vegetable because of their easy care and long storage life. While seed potatoes can be planted directly in the garden in early spring, if your area is prone to wet weather in spring, growing a potato start inside, then transplanting it, helps prevent rot. Potatoes are grown from small potatoes known as seed pieces. The seed pieces are cut apart so that each part has a growing eye on it. Sprouting these seed pieces, then planting them in the garden is not difficult.

Cut the seed pieces into approximately 1 inch cubes, ensuring that there is at least one growing eye on each piece. Spread the pieces out on newspaper, cut side up, as you prepare them, and let them dry overnight to prevent rotting.

Fill a seed starting tray with potting soil. Sow each seed piece 1 to 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart in the tray.

Water the soil until it is just moist, then set it in a warm, brightly lit area. You can set it outdoors in a sunny spot during the day, if desired. Keep the soil moist at all times while waiting for the seed pieces to sprout, which occurs within one to two weeks.

Spread a 2 inch layer of compost over the permanent garden bed. Till it in to a 10 inch depth so it aids drainage while adding nutrients to the soil.

Lift each potato sprout out of the seedling tray and plant it in the garden bed at a 3 inch depth. Space the potato starts 12 inches apart in the row, and space the rows 2 feet apart.

Water the garden bed at least once a week, providing 1 to 2 inches of irrigation at a time. Water more frequently during dry periods and less frequently when there is rain.

Pull soil from between the rows with a hoe and toward the potato plants as the plants grow. Gradually build up a ridge of soil around each plant that is about 6 inches high to help protect the tubers.

Harvest the potatoes after the vines and leaves yellow and die back in late summer. Turn the soil with a spading fork to reveal the potatoes and remove them from the ground with your hands.


Things You Will Need

  • Seedling tray
  • Potting soil
  • Knife
  • Newspaper
  • Compost
  • Hoe


  • Many nurseries and garden centers sell potato starts if you don't wish to grow your own.
  • Mulching the potato bed helps preserve moisture and inhibits weeds.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.