Well. I feel a whole lot better.
We just harvested a pretty underwhelming potato crop this year. I tried one new method and one old method and the old method was...fine, I guess, and the new method not so great, with the amount of small, hard potatoes dominating the boxes.
The old method is - add manure to the soil (horse, cow, rabbit) from late summer until Chrismas. Let is sit. Till it in. Plant potatoes. Cover with a foot of dry straw. Sit back and do nothing. This mostly worked in our established beds, but I got a bigger percentage of smaller, harder potatoes than previous years.
The new method was to spread about 6 inches of compost on a grassy area that I weed whacked down, plant potatoes, cover with a foot of straw and sit back and do nothing. This was even worse, with lot's of small, hard potatoes (like those little boutique bags at the grocery store). So color me fancy with all these eeny wheeny potatoes, but what a pain to harvest!!
We had a wet, long, cold spring followed by cooler and dryer summer culminating in somewhat warm but dry start to fall, so I don't know. Climate Change means every year is a new adventure - a box of chocolates, as it were. (Although recently it seems like all the chocolate are coconut filled and half eaten by some other family member and then put back in the box.)
Next year, because there is always a next year for us ever optimistic gardeners, I'm going to still use the new method for areas I want to clear for beds. Small potatoes are great in stew, and I get a new gardening bed out of it, so everyone wins. It still the easiest way I have found to clear big patches for new beds.
I also saw no noticeable difference using stored seed potatoes from my stash and store bought new seed. And my purple potatoes from saved seed did better than everyone else - which was delightful! They are my favorite.