There are two general ways of planting seed potatoes: planting a whole, small potato the size of a small egg (called a “single drop”), or cutting larger potatoes into chunks, letting the chunks dry a bit, and planting those. I tried both this year, using the same variety of potatoes, and here’s what they look like just before flowering:
(Please ignore the “grass”; my straw sprouted a very nice crop of wheat! I’ve since weeded this out.)
So, potatoes. What you see above are all planted at the same time, same depth, same density, same irrigation – it’s just that the plant from the cut potatoes are so much less robust. We’ll see how they produce, but I don’t have hopes of 1.5 lb/sf from the cut potatoes, whereas 1-1.5 lb/sf is typical from the single drops. Of course, you need a lot more seed potatoes to start with. I have some other experiments with spacing and such in other parts of the garden; I’ll let you know how that turns out.
I also have potato beetles for the first time ever this year. They are in two of my beds and not at all in the other two. Not really sure why; there’s no consistent pattern of potato variety, soil, or mulch. So I’m hand-picking like crazy; every time I go out I pull off all the larvae I can find and throw them in a bucket of soapy water to drown. It’s not hard, or even particularly gross, but it’s annoying: potatoes have always been a no-fuss crop for me. Ah well. Each year, one pest bug seems to boom, and this year, it’s potato beetles. Hopefully I can keep the vast majority of them from spawning a second generation, and hopefully crop rotation and a parallel boom in predators will take care of things next year.