What to do?
I started too early last year. I was trying to trick Mother Nature and she got the last laugh.
Here is a picture of what I tried last year and my potatoes got bit back several times, even with me trying to protect them with hay. If I were going to plant potatoes this year I would buy seed potatoes, let them chit and them plant them at the proper time. Trying to have plants ready to plant early back-fired on me. You can see that we had snow 2-22, we even had snow in April and a lot of frost afterwards.
We will do what we've been doing for forty years. Buy seed potatoes as soon as we see them, usually late Feb, cut them, sulfur them, chit them, and plant them on or around March 17--because that's when my Grandpa always planted his. Then if we get another year like last year, with weekly frosts through April and an inch of snow on May 3rd, we will cover them with the leaves that we stockpiled in November and let them greow through them when it warms up. Then we will eat "new" potatoes when the plants bloom and dig them all when the tops start to die back--usually early July.
I do about the same thing Dorothy does, although I'll plant them a little late if the ground is really, really wet. I generally cover mine with floating row cover instead of mulch, or sometimes I use both.
My experience with trying to plant them too early is similar to Larry's. Mother Nature will freeze back the plants every time if I plant them early (and often does the same thing if I plant them on time). Potato plants generally rebound after being frozen back to the ground, but the price you pay is that plants which have frozen back often produce less than plants that never froze back. After they've frozen back 2 or 3 times (or more than that in a year like last year where we had freezing weather for a night or two per week through the first week in May), their yield tends to be pretty poor because they have put so much energy into recovering over and over again from being frozen back, leaving less energy available to set and size up tubers.
Planting late on purpose doesn't necessarily work out well either because our high summer temperatures put a halt to the potato season earlier than we'd like.
Based on the weather we've had since November, this probably is not a year to push anything into the ground too early.
Please. Thank you so much for that. I've too many hurdles this year, already. I'm willing to accept potatoes may not be a reality this year. I guess that's how gardening is ..
We didn't say you couldn't plant potatoes....just that it is way too early for them right now. : )
Seed potatoes are pretty low-cost (especially if you buy them at a bulk supplier by the pound instead of in prepackaged bags at a big box store) and, in a good year where the weather halfway cooperates, you get a really big harvest for a fairly low dollar investment.
You even can plant grocery store potatoes, but it isn't recommended because they could carry disease spores. Having said that, I've often planted grocery store potatoes and never had a disease problem. Because grocery store potatoes are sprayed with anti-sprouting agent to keep them from sprouting prematurely, if you chose to go that route, the earlier you buy the grocery store potatoes, the better. That way, they can sit inside and the anti-sprouting agents will eventually wear off (if they didn't, no one ever would have potatoes start sprouting in their pantry). By the time the soil temps and air temps are warm enough for you to plant potatoes, your grocery store potatoes likely would be sprouting.
When I lived in Texas, we'd plant potatoes around Washington's BIrthday. It drives me crazy that I have to wait several more weeks to plant them here, but that's just the way it is since we're further north.
Pound for pound, potatoes are one of the most nutritious veggies you can grow, Bon, and they are so yummy, so filling and can be prepared so many ways. Don't give up on raising potatoes before you give it a try!
Bon, I love Yukon Gold, and I buy them at Atwoods at a fair price. I don't try to grow all of the potatoes we eat because I don't have a place to store them, but they are worth growing just to have a couple months worth of fresh potatoes.
I have noticed seed potatoes from $.49 to $.59 per pound this year. A few years ago I bought a 20 bag of regular potatoes that had sprouted very heavily for $.99. I planted about 1/3 of them and they did very well. We ate the other 2/3 bag, they were not pretty but taste great.
It was the eyes on the potatoes in the kitchen that got me thinking about it. That very first year (when I started potatoes in mid summer cuz I didn't know what I was doing) I planted store potatoes and they actually grew. Taters were small, of course.
I'm attempting to regulate my garden 'vision' with potential reality. hehe But I'll be planting them. How much depends on how ready my soil is. Most is new ground. So... yeah.