When should I plant potatoes in the garden?
Potatoes should be planted in early spring. Appropriate planting times are late March or early April in southern Iowa, early to mid-April in central Iowa, and mid to late April in northern portions of the state.
Since potatoes are susceptible to several diseases, buy certified, disease-free potatoes at garden centers or mail-order nurseries. Gardeners can purchase seed pieces (tubers that have been cut into sections) or whole potatoes. Small potato tubers may be planted whole. Large potatoes should be cut into sections or pieces. Each seed piece should have 1 or 2 “eyes” or buds and weigh approximately 1.5 to 2.0 ounces. After cutting the tubers into sections, place the freshly cut seed pieces in a humid, 60 to 70°F location for 1 or 2 days. A short “healing” period allows the cut surfaces to callus or heal over before the seed pieces are planted. Healing of the cut surfaces helps prevent the rotting of seed pieces when planted.
Plant seed pieces (cut side down) and small whole potatoes 3 to 4 inches deep and 1 foot apart within the row. Rows should be spaced 2½ to 3 feet apart.