Where to Buy
Recently I received a couple seed catalogs in the mail. One of the first things I looked up was their prices on fingerling seed potatoes. Fingerling potatoes are a gourmet treat, that sell in the store for a gourmet price. They are great for boiling in a pot of water and rock salt. You surely would be "eating like no one else" if you grew your own fingerling potatoes this year. And you could tell everyone you got gourmet food growing on your property!
There are several places to purchase the seed potatoes or tubers. The Burpee catalog offers three options: Russian Banana (10 mini-tubers for $18.95), Swedish Peanut Fingerling (10 mini-tuners for $18.95) or their Fingerling Potato Collection which features Russian Banana, Rose Finn Apple, and Swedish Potatoes for $44.25 for 10 mini-tubers each for a total of 30. Another option comes from Johnny's Selected Seeds. They offer French Fingerling ($12.60 for a pound) and Russian Banana ($12.65 for a pound).
Why Not to Plant Grocery Store Purchased Potatoes
Now you might be thinking, why would should I pay $12.60 for a pound of fingerling potatoes, when I could go to the store and buy them for $3 or less a pound and just plant those? Aren't these tubers or seed potatoes just like the potatoes that starting growing eyes in my pantry? Well you could just plant store bought potatoes. However potatoes are susceptible to a lot of diseases. The ones you buy from the seed companies and nurseries that are certified seed potatoes are going to be disease free. That doesn't mean they are disease resistant, just that when you plant them there isn't any sign of disease. Grocery store bought potatoes have not been tested, so there is a good chance you will have a problem and your entire crop will fail, like the famous Irish potato famine. Also grocery store potatoes may have been treated to stop the growth of "eyes". I have read of growers you have grown both grocery store and seed potatoes and that all have said their crops do better if they plant certified seed potatoes.
When to Buy
You can buy them as soon as the seed catalog have them available, usually by the first of the year. Some places won't ship you the potatoes until April, so they will be in time for spring planting. If you live in a warmer climate, Johnny's offers February shipping, but you must act by Friday, January 14, 2011.