Planting Potatoes with Companions: Maximizing Growth and Health

Different plants growing next to potatoes

The humble potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a go-to crop for those seeking self-sufficiency in their gardens. To enhance the growth and health of potatoes, many gardeners have turned to interplanting with different vegetables and herbs. This technique creates a diverse and natural environment that offers benefits to both gardeners and nature. By choosing suitable companion plants, you can increase potato yields and effectively fend off pests.

Is Companion Planting with Potatoes Worth It?

Cultivating potatoes alongside other plants offers several advantages. Potatoes require significant nutrients, which can deplete the soil. However, by planting them alongside more frugal species, you can prevent this issue. Moreover, interplanting promotes a healthier soil structure and encourages beneficial microorganisms. This, in turn, deters pests, provides shade for the soil, and reduces evaporation. In essence, interplanting maintains and even enhances soil fertility.

Garlic or onions planted next to potatoes in veg patch

Ideal Companions for Potatoes

When selecting companion plants for potatoes, it is crucial to consider soil health and nutrient requirements. To maintain soil fertility, interplant potatoes with vegetables that do not demand excessive nutrition. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid planting close relatives together, as they are more prone to rapid disease spread and competition for nutrients.

For instance, the nightshade genus, which includes aubergines, peppers, and tomatoes, complements potatoes well. However, it is best to avoid pairing potatoes with root vegetables, as they compete for underground space. Shallow-rooted fruits and vegetables like strawberries, spinach, and beans are excellent companions for potatoes. Additionally, cabbages, garlic, peppermint, and nasturtiums can deter pests that commonly affect potatoes, such as slugs and potato beetles.

Further reading:  Can You Grow Sprouted Potatoes in Winter? A Guide to Success

Potatoes growing together with corn and pumpkin plants

Crop Rotation: What to Plant Next?

Potatoes play a crucial role in preparing soil for other plants. Their extensive root system helps loosen heavy soils. After harvesting potatoes, consider replacing them with medium-hardy root crops like carrots, parsnips, and turnips to make the most of the enriched soil. In the following year, opt for low-yielding, leafy vegetables such as lettuce, radish, peas, and spinach. This can be followed by green manure, which replenishes organic matter and prevents soil drying and erosion.

To practice effective crop rotation, avoid planting potatoes and their close relatives in the same spot for 4 to 5 years. This prevents the buildup of soil-borne diseases that can persist underground and cause repeated infections.

If you’re looking for further advice on growing potatoes, check out the Ames Farm Center website for tips on choosing the right site, planting, care, harvesting, and storing these nutritious tubers. With strategic companion planting and crop rotation, you can optimize potato growth and ensure a bountiful harvest year after year.

Ames Farm Center