How Far Apart To Plant Potatoes? Guidelines To Follow
How far apart to plant potatoes? We'll explain different techniques for everything from raised beds to garden rows!
How do you plant potatoes in a way that maximizes their production? Potatoes are a garden favorite that are easy to grow but require a little advance planning. As long as your conditions are right, you can have a successful yield!
We’ve discussed growing potatoes in a bucket, and how to grow potatoes in general. We’ve even honed in on harvesting potatoes. It may seem like we’ve covered all there is to cover when it comes to potatoes.
But when you grow potatoes, spacing is key. Let’s talk about the best spacing for a bountiful harvest!
Potato Plant Growth
Despite growing underground, potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) aren’t root vegetables, they’re tubers – starchy, thick, underground stems. And unlike roots that burrow further into the soil, potato tubers grow up and out of the soil.
This is why as your potato plants grow, you need to “hill” soil or organic material around their stems to keep the tubers covered as they grow and mature. To reproduce, potatoes sprout eyes that then produce future potato tubers.
Have you ever stashed a bag of organic potatoes in a kitchen drawer and then forgot about it? You probably returned to monstrous, sprouted tentacles. If planted, these are the beginnings of new potatoes. However, you may get a better harvest from seed potato varieties sold by seed distributors.
While planting potatoes from store-bought produce isn’t recommended due to their susceptibility to rot or disease, good seed potatoes are available from reliable companies, like Botanical Interests! Try their Clancy Potato seeds this season.
How Far Apart To Plant Potatoes: Varieties And Space
Potato spacing depends both on the potato variety you’ve chosen to grow and your garden set up. Let’s discuss the differences between spacing varieties of potatoes.
Spacing Large Potato Varieties
Generally, varieties that produce larger potatoes like russet require more space. In this case, you’d probably want to plant one potato per foot. In a square foot garden, you may need to plant one per square foot, or even devote more than one square foot to your russets.
In buckets and grow bags, keep to the 1 foot rule for larger types. If you’re planting seed potatoes, you can allow for even more growth with 15 inches between each planting. However, all of this may change based on your growing methods — which we will cover shortly!
Spacing Smaller Potato Varieties
When it comes to how far apart to plant potatoes, varieties that produce smaller potatoes like yukon gold require less space. Here, you can plant potatoes at the same spacing you would for larger varieties, but you could try to cram more in a small space by placing them about 8 inches apart.
The same goes for even smaller varieties, like fingerling potatoes. Methods that involve growing potatoes in buckets, cardboard boxes, and grow bags are definitely suited to smaller potato varieties. Here you can get a much larger harvest of potatoes than you could if they were large.
Even if you’re not certain of their size, potatoes plant development begins small. You can harvest only baby potatoes a bit early to get smaller potatoes if you don’t think there’s enough space for big ones. And as long as they’re fully covered by soil, late harvests are still an option once the foliage starts to dry.
How Far Apart To Plant Potatoes: Gardening Methods
Spacing is crucial. After all, you’ll need room for your plants to develop. The question is how much space you have available. Whether your space is measured in inches or feet, potatoes can be grown. It’s just a matter of planning!
Square Foot Gardens
Is your growing area compact or do you have room for sprawling rows? If your space is limited and you’re maximizing using a square-foot garden set-up, try planting a fingerling variety that can more easily adapt to 12″ x 12″ spacing.
People who want to grow full-sized potatoes in a square foot garden should begin by making sure you have at least 10-12 inches of quality soil to fill the bed with. Then, remove all but an inch or two of the soil, reserving it for later. Evenly space and plant potatoes at a rate of one per square foot. A square foot grid can help with spacing.
Once you have your potatoes in place, cover with them about another inch of soil. As the plants grow, you’ll be hilling up around them with your reserved soil. Make sure that the potatoes themselves are never exposed to direct sunlight, as this can cause the potato to develop a green splotch that will be inedible.
A 4’x4′ garden bed can house a total of 16 potato plants using this method. The potatoes may be baby potatoes — a little smaller than if they were grown in a larger garden bed, but they’ll still be good to eat!
Start by digging a trench in the garden. Aim for one that’s at least 6 inches wide and about 8 inches deep, as this allows you to amend. Apply a couple inches of compost to the base of the trench. Space your trenches 2-3 feet apart. They’re easier to tend that way.
Make sure each seed potato has at least two eyes. These eyes are where the plant develops. Large seed potatoes with lots of eyes can be cut into pieces. If you do slice them into smaller segments, wait a few days to let the cut sides dry to prevent rotting or possible disease susceptibility.
Once your seed potatoes are ready to plant, set one into the trench every 12 inches. Add enough compost to ensure that your seed potatoes are about 2-3 inches deep. Once planted, water and maintain the growing potatoes. As they develop, add more compost and soil to keep them covered.
Growing Potatoes In Bags And Buckets
Are you really limited on space? Don’t panic. I’ve planted potatoes in grow bags or 5-gallon buckets in the past, and I’ve still gotten a decent harvest from my potato plants. With these methods, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got good drainage.
Then, add about 3″ of compost and soil in the bottom, and plant no more than 1-2 seed potatoes per container. Treat them as you would with other methods, adding more soil as necessary to keep the potatoes covered.
The basis of good drainage starts with your soil. You want lots of organic matter, and some moisture retention. If you’re growing in a 5 gallon bucket, you’ll want to at least 10 quarter inch-wide drainage holes. Most grow bags don’t have a problem with drainage, and instead need additions of peat moss or coco coir to ensure the soil retains water.
You may be able to use a sheet of cardboard to extend the height of your container if it just keeps producing. Going vertical with your potatoes can give you a much bigger potato harvest!
Growing Potatoes In Cardboard Boxes
If you don’t have grow bags or a bucket, you can grow your potatoes in a carboard box. You’ll create the same soil base for your spuds, but you won’t need to provide drainage holes. You’ll set everything up like you would in bucket or grow bag.
Then you add soil to the box as the potatoes grow. Leave the flaps down at first, and fold them up as you hill your potatoes. Ensure they stay up through the season, and when you’re done you can simply pick up the box and your potatoes will be easily accessible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the spacing for potatoes?
A: How far apart to plant potatoes depends on the potato you’re growing, where you’re growing them, and how you want to care for them as they grow. Take a look above for guidelines that are adapted to different situations.
Q: What happens if potatoes are planted too close?
A: Each of the developing tubers needs a certain amount of nutrients and space to grow to their full size. If they are overcrowded, it will be difficult for them to obtain both.
Q: How many potatoes can I plant in a 4×4 raised bed?
A: A 4’x4′ garden bed can house a total of 16 potato plants using this method. They may be a little smaller than if you were to grow potatoes in a larger garden bed, but they’ll still be good to eat!
Q: What month do you plant potatoes?
A: Typically, they’re planted in spring and harvested from potato plants about 4 months later. However, if you have mild fall and winter seasons, you can plant in fall for an early spring harvest.
Q: Can you plant potatoes close together?
A: You can, but this will reduce the size and amount of potatoes in your harvest.
Q: How many potatoes does 1 plant produce?
A: On average, one potato plant will produce between 2 and 4 pounds of potatoes.
Q: What not to plant next to potatoes?
A: Keep other tubers, solaneaceous veggies, squashes, fennel, and alliums away from your potatoes.
Q: What grows well next to potatoes?
A: Beans, sweet alyssum, chamomile, nasturtium, lettuce, and radishes are just a few plants that grow well with potatoes. There are plenty of other companions!