In my interactions with farmers and gardeners, I have learned that many prefer to avoid planting potatoes. This is because, unlike when you plant and space tomatoes, planting potatoes is a bit more complicated. So, most garden owners usually avoid planting them at all.
Potatoes are not rooted crops; instead, they are tubers, so the issue of appropriately spacing them is a valid concern raised by many intending planters. Like other crops that need good spacing to grow well, potatoes must also be spaced well if you will get any results from them. So, potatoes, how can they be spaced? Read on.
Potato Plant Spacing in Rows and in-ground Garden
Before spacing a potato, you need to understand how these tubers grow. Even though potatoes grow underground, they are not considered root vegetables. Potatoes are considered tubers, meaning that the stems of potatoes are thick and starchy and grow underground. The growth pattern of potatoes means that you will need to keep hilling soil around their stem to keep them covered as they grow.
Now that you know how potatoes grow, the next thing is to space them. Spacing potatoes is essential in getting optimal yield to come harvest. Before you space a potato, you must consider how much space you have.
If you don’t have a lot of room, you can grow your potatoes in rows using square-foot gardening. With square-foot gardening, you can grow quite a few potatoes even in limited space. Plant fingerling or small varieties of potatoes if you want to grow potatoes in a square-foot garden. These varieties don’t require as much growing space and can adapt to the smaller spacing.
To grow your potatoes using square-foot gardening, you must ensure that your garden bed can hold at least 10-12 inches of soil. You should measure the depth of the soil before you begin to plant. Next, lay about 1-2 inches of soil at the bottom of the garden bed. Each seed potato should be placed one square foot from the other, and when placed correctly, the potato should be covered with 1-2 inches of soil.
Create hills around your plants as they grow using the dirt you have set aside. Please ensure the potatoes are not exposed to direct sunlight, which may turn them into an unappetizing splotchy green color.
If you have more space, you can plant your potatoes in-ground in the garden. To do this, dig a trench in your garden as long as your heart desires. In terms of depth, the trench should be at least 6 inches wide and 8 inches deep. After digging your trench, add a few inches of compost at the bottom of the trench, ensuring adequate nutrients for your potatoes and drainage.
If you are digging more than one trench, you should space them 2-3 feet apart. This would help your plant grow well and allow you to attend to it as it grows. Every 12 to 15 inches, plant a potato in the trench. After that, cover the seed potatoes with 2-3 inches of compost. If you want to plant baby potatoes or if your area is restricted, you can reduce this spacing.
Spacing Potatoes in Raised Beds
If you want to avoid planting your potatoes straight into the ground, you can plant them on raised beds.
It would help if you started with the soil level in the raised bed somewhat low when planting potatoes so that you have plenty of room to add soil on top as the plants grow. Your seed potatoes should be spaced 12 inches apart, and the soil should be 3 inches thick. Add more dirt until the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, leaving 2-3 inches of leaf exposed. Continue adding dirt until the top of your raised bed is reached.
Spacing Potatoes in Containers
Now, for those who may not have a garden or space, you can use a container to grow your potatoes. You will still get a good harvest whether you plant in-ground or in containers. You can use a five-gallon bucket for planting your potatoes, but be sure to put a lot of holes for drainage.
At the bottom of the grow bag or bucket, add a layer of soil and compost of about 2-3 inches. Use a high-quality potting soil blend. Make sure that each container only contains one or two seed potatoes. Once they’ve begun to grow, you may handle these potatoes just like any other kind and add more soil to keep the plants and tubers covered.
Potato Growing Tips
I want to share a few tested and trusted potato-growing tips with you. These tips are guaranteed to help you grow better and healthier potatoes, and below are a few of them.
- When you are planting a potato, it is important to get certified seeds. This is important because if you plant a bad seed, your potatoes will inherit the deformities of the bad seed you planted. To ensure that it does not happen, only plant certified seeds.
- It would help if you grew your potatoes where they have access to at least 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Also, remember that the soil you plant your potatoes in should be well-drained.
- Cooler weather is preferred for potatoes. They can be planted as soon as the ground can be handled in the early spring or when the soil reaches 45 F. The seed potatoes will decay if the soil is soggy with water. It could be wiser to wait till the soil dries up a little, depending on how wet your springs are. I usually water my basil vegetables frequently but never to the point where they get waterlogged.
- After the plant’s blossom, you can start picking new potatoes as you require them for meals. Allow the tubers to mature in the ground if you are growing potatoes for storage. Before storing, cure potatoes to help the skins thicken and recover. Cured tubers should be kept in closed boxes or bins with ventilation holes in a dark place. Potatoes should be stored between 32 and 40 °F and between 80 and 90 % relative humidity.
- To keep your soil healthy, always rotate your potatoes. It would help if you stuck to a three-year plan for rotating your potatoes. So, if you harvest your potato from the soil, you will only be able to plant in that same spot for three to four years. You can rotate your potatoes with beans.