Companion planting with potatoes

Sunflower Companion Planting Chart

As it mentions in the name, sunflowers require full sun. Select a portion of your garden where the sunflowers will be able to grow vertically with no restrictions, as most sunflowers will reach a height of 5 to 6 feet with a flower head that is nearly a full foot across! There are some varieties of sunflowers that can reach up to 15 feet high, while other varieties will top out at 2 feet of growth. If sowing seeds directly, place each seed 6 inches apart and 1 inch deep in the soil, and then water well. A 3 to 4 inch thick layer of mulch will help conserve moisture and keep weeds at bay.

The seeds of the sunflower develop on the flower head, and are exposed to pests like birds and squirrels. There are protective mesh bags that can be placed over the head of the sunflower to deter seed thieves from crashing your crop. Once the seeds begin to brown, cut the sunflower head off, along with 2 feet of stem. Hang the sunflower upside down to dry. To cook the seeds, soak them overnight in salty water, and then roast for 3 hours at 200 degrees.

How to Grow Great Potatoes

There is absolutely no doubt that some plants grow better alongside others, and the potato is no exception. While not all companion planting is based on horticultural science, there are some quite significant scientific foundations for the concept.

There are multiple reasons why certain plants do particularly well together. These reasons range from making certain plants more resistant to disease and deterring insects, to attracting insects – like ladybirds – that eat certain bugs. Some are said to improve the growth in other plants by balancing the soil, and some are said to improve the flavour of vegetables, although some claims are debatable.

By the same token, companion planting certainly isn’t a “cure all” and there are some plants that should not be grown together for a variety of reasons. One important factor is that root zones should not overlap.

Also, just as some herbs and vegetables grow best in certain climates, some companion plants are better companions in some places than they are in others.

While horseradish is the most commonly recommended companion plant for potatoes, other plants that are said to benefit the potato plant include green beans and peas, the brassicas (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), corn, lovage, marjoram, marigolds, nasturtiums, parsnips, watermelon and delicate alyssum. They are also said to grow very happily alongside lettuce, radishes and green (or spring) onions.

Marigolds in a vegetable garden

Sweet alyssum and marigolds, specifically, attract beneficial insects and keep weeds suppressed. Alyssum also attracts beneficial wasps and acts as a living ground cover. Chemical secretions of thiopene (a known nematode repellent) from the roots of marigolds will kill root-knot nematodes or eel worm that reduce the size, quantity and quality of tubers produced. Nasturtium flowers effectively repel some beetles and aphids (which are attracted to potatoes and suck the juices from the plants). Nasturtiums also secrete oil that attracts some insects including the cabbage white moth. Although not generally recommended as companion plants, both zinnias and salvia attract ladybirds which do a great job of eating aphids and other tiny bugs. They also attract pollinators.

Beans are not demanding of nutrients in the soil and they increase the nitrogen levels, enabling potato plants to grow faster and become stronger. Particularly happy neighbours, green beans repel the Colorado potato bug from potatoes, while potatoes repel Mexican beetles from the bean plants.

Horseradish

Horseradish, like potatoes, does best in soil that is high in organic matter. It has won its good reputation as a companion plant for potatoes because it repels most of the bugs that attack potato plants. It is also said to encourage growth. Many horticulturists advise planting a horseradish plant at each corner of the potato patch for protection against insects in general.

Vegetables that should never be planted near to potatoes include tomatoes (which can be hosts for late blight), sunflowers, cucumber and both squash and pumpkin, celery and rosemary – because potatoes don’t do well near them, and in fact all seem to increase susceptibility of the potato to blight. The main reason these plants don’t like potatoes is because their roots release substances that stunt their growth. Fruits that make bad neighbours include apples, cherries and raspberries.

What is interesting is that corn and marigolds (which potatoes seem to like) are also said to be good companion plants for tomatoes – while of course potatoes aren’t.

Tags: companion planting, planting potatoes, potato garden

Potato Plant Companions: What Are The Best Companion Plants For Potatoes

Companion planting is a practice that’s been used in gardening since the dawn of agriculture. Simply put, companion planting is growing plants near other plants that benefit each other in various ways. Some companion plants help deter insects and other pests from their vulnerable companions. Other companion plants can reduce the risk of fungal, bacterial and viral infections. Companion plants can also improve the flavor, taste, scent, beauty and growth of other plants. Potato plants have many beneficial companions. Continue reading to learn what to plant with potatoes.

Companion Planting with Potatoes

While there are good beneficial companion plants for potatoes, there are also plants that can cause disease and growth problems. Before planting potatoes, keep the following in mind:

  • Raspberry, tomato, cucumber, squash and pumpkin are more susceptible to developing blight if planted with potatoes.
  • Carrots, asparagus, fennel, turnip, onions and sunflowers can stunt the growth and development of potato tubers.
  • Potato plants also should not be planted in the same spot where eggplant, tomatoes and anything in the nightshade family has previously been planted.

There are, however, many beneficial potato plant companions.

  • Plant cabbage, corn and beans around potato hills to improve their growth and taste.
  • Growing horseradish as a companion plant for potatoes is said to make potatoes resistant to diseases.
  • Lettuce and spinach is often planted between rows of potatoes to save room in the garden and because they do not compete for nutrients.
  • Chamomile, basil, yarrow, parsley and thyme are herbal companion plants for potatoes that improve their growth and flavor, while also attracting beneficial insects to the garden.
  • Petunias and alyssum also attract beneficial insects to potato plants.

What to Plant with Potatoes to Keep Bugs Away

While I’ve already mentioned plants that attract good bugs near potatoes, there are also several potato plant companions that deter bad bugs.

  • Lamium improves potato flavor, encourages its growth and deters harmful insects.
  • Sage keeps flea beetles away.
  • Nasturtium, coriander, tansy and catmint planted around potato plants deter potato beetles.
  • Green beans also deter potato beetles and add nitrogen to the soil; in return, the potato plants deter the Mexican beetle from eating the green beans.
  • The old farmer’s favorite, marigolds, deter harmful pests from potato plants and also protects them from viral and bacterial diseases.

The Best Potato Companion Plants for Your Backyard Garden

Companion planting with your potatoes can help your plants grow better, taste better, and have less problems with pests. So how does companion planting work? What can you grow with your potatoes and what should be kept far away?

First off, potatoes are a member of the nightshade family. Other nightshades include tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.

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Below you will find a list of potato companion plants that you can grow alongside your potato plants to prevent pests and disease, or just help them grow and taste better. Plus a list of what you should keep separate from your potato bed.

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Potato Companion Plants For a Better Harvest

Companion planting has a lot of benefit including improved flavor and better growth. It’s important to plant crops that don’t compete for nutrients and also complement each other. Below is a list of plants to grow with your potatoes to help you grow the best potato crop ever!

Corn: Growing corn with potatoes improves the flavor of potatoes, making them great companions!

Beans: Beans won’t compete for nitrogen in the soil, instead they will fix nitrogen, making it more readily available for the potatoes. They help the plants grow stronger and healthier. Bush bean varieties are a better choice.

Cabbage: Cabbage is another crop that helps improve the taste of your potato crop.

Lettuce: Lettuce is a shallow-rooted plant that potatoes grow well with. They don’t compete for the same nutrients, and the potatoes can shade the lettuce in the heat of the afternoon.

Herbs: Planting herbs such as basil, chamomile, yarrow, parsley, and thyme will improve the flavor of your potatoes. They will also attract beneficial insects to your garden to help with pest control and pollination.

Horseradish: Planting horseradish around your potato plants can help your plants be more resistant to disease, and it can improve the flavor of the potatoes as well.

Potato Companion Plants for Pest Control

Pests can be a big problem in organic gardens, or any garden, but luckily one of the main benefits of companion planting is to naturally deter and eliminate many of these pests. Below are some of the best companion plants for potatoes to help control some of the main potato pests.

Sage: Planting sage around your potatoes can help keep the flea beetles away.

Nasturtium: Nasturtium is a great companion for a lot of different crops, so I highly suggest planting in various places around your garden. For potatoes, nasturtium can help deter the Colorado potato beetle.

Tansy: The potato beetle is one of the most harmful insects for potatoes. Luckily there are lots of companion plants for potatoes that help deter them!

Bush beans: Green Beans are another crop to grow with potatoes to deter the Colorado potato beetle. As I said above they also add nitrogen to soil to help the potato plants stay strong. And if that wasn’t enough potatoes help repel Mexican bean beetles, which can destroy your bean crop.

Marigold: Marigolds can deter all sorts of harmful insects- for potatoes and other crops. Plant them in every bed! (They can also protect your potatoes from some viral infections)

What to Avoid Planting With Potatoes

Potatoes are a little more picky when it comes to good companions. Not only can many plants have negative effects on the growth and development of the potato tubers, but potatoes can have negative effects on the other plants as well. Here’s a list of some plants you should keep away from potatoes.

Carrots: Carrots, and other larger root crops such as onions and turnips, can affect the growth of your potatoes.

Asparagus: Asparagus can stunt the growth of your potatoes- so keep your permanent asparagus bed in another area of the garden.

Squash and Pumpkins (including zucchini): Squashes can make potatoes more susceptible to blight (and potatoes can have the same effect on them!) If you do end up with blight, check out my article on preventing and controlling blight.

Cucumber: Like with squashes blight can be an issue if you companion plant cucumber with potatoes.

Melons: Are you noticing a trend? Squash, cucumber, and melons are all cucurbits- and none of them should be planted with potatoes.

Tomatoes: Planting tomatoes and potatoes together is a bad ideas. Potatoes and tomatoes compete for the same nutrients in the soil. Planting them together also makes both crops more susceptible to blight.

Also don’t plant potatoes where other nightshades have been planted previously. Keep at least a 2 year rotation before planting nightshades in the same spot again.

Sunflower: Sunflowers can stunt the growth of your potato plants and the tubers.

Other plants to stay away from in your potato bed: celery, raspberries, fennel, onions, and turnips.

Once you have harvested your potatoes, check out some of the following articles to learn how to store, use, and preserve your harvest!

How to Can Potatoes

How to Dehydrate Potatoes

How to Cure and Store Potatoes

And that’s it for companion planting with potatoes. Take this information into account while planning your garden in the spring and you will see the benefits of companion planting!

Check out my other companion planting guides too to learn the companion plants best suited for Squash, Eggplant, and Cucumbers!

Companion planting has gained great momentum amongst novice and experienced gardeners alike; especially with those who aim to grow maximum food in minimum space.

Some plants like marigolds and a few other aromatic herbs are grown exclusively for the protective effect they seem to have against many garden pests, but not all vegetables appreciate their presence.

When space is premium, you should choose your bedfellows carefully, so it helps to know not only the ideal companions of each plant but their enemies too.

Many plants simply hate to share their space with others.

A typical example is black walnut trees that do not allow anything to grow under them by producing the chemical juglone in all parts of the tree, including leaves. This type of non-selective allelopathy is a natural mechanism to reduce competition.

Some plants are very choosy about their companions.

They like the company of some, but not all.

Tomatoes love growing with marigolds

For example, tomatoes benefit from having marigold, garlic, chives and basil planted in the same bed since these companions protect them from parasitic nematodes and hornworms. At the same time, they cannot stand having cabbage and cauliflower nearby.

The exact reason why some plants get along with certain companions, while declining perceptibly in the company of others, is not known, although many theories are put forward.

Selective allelopathy could be a way to avoid competition between plants that require the same type of nutrients or to minimize the risk of common pests that plants from the same family often have.

Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant belonging to the nightshade family Solanaceae are susceptible to the same bacterial, fungal and viral diseases. They have several common pests too. So it makes sense not to grow them next to one another.

The same logic applies to cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels’ sprouts.

That may explain why broccoli plants leave behind a chemical residue in the soil that prevents subsequent plantings of this family to thrive. It could be an insurance against pests and pathogens overwintering in the beds. Crop rotation with unrelated species may help break this cycle.

The following list of incompatible plants, mainly compiled from the experience of seasoned gardeners, may have the backing of a few scientific experiments or explanations, but not in every case.

Nevertheless, it may help you to be cautious of what you grow together in your garden, and perhaps encourage you to add your own insights to the collective knowledge.

Popular Vegetables & What They Can’t Grow With

Asparagus

Asparagus seems to be happy to have nasturtiums and marigolds around, as well as herbs like basil and parsley, to take care of pest problems, but it does not like garlic and fennel in the neighborhood.

Fennel is a bad companion to a lot of veggies, but the problem between garlic and asparagus could stem from competition for the same nutrients by these sulfur-rich veggies or some other reason.

Try to avoid all onion family plants near the asparagus patch for good measure. After all, the asparagus is going to grow in that same spot for years to come.

Beans

Being a legume, bean plants have the capacity to enrich the soil by nitrogen fixing, so they are often planted in between other veggies, especially spinach, cucumber, corn, and potato.

However, beans shouldn’t be planted near veggies of the cabbage and onion families. These include cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cress, mustard, garlic, chives and leeks.

Broccoli

This green delight loves to have a host of aromatic herbs around, from alliums (onion family) to many mint family plants like peppermint, catnip, sage, oregano, pennyroyal and rosemary. But surprisingly, it does not like basil.

Also, avoid planting beans, peas, tomatoes, and strawberry plants near broccoli.

Carrots

Carrots thrive beside legumes like beans and peas and nightshade family vegetables. They have no problem sharing the space with root vegetables like radish, onion, and leeks, or with low growing plants like lettuce and parsley.

But celery and dill are two herbs carrots are not happy about. Avoid growing these in the same bed as carrots.

Cabbage

Cabbage grown with spring onions to keep snails away

This soft-headed vegetable is prone to a large number of pests, so it enjoys the companionship of many herbs like dill, celery, garlic, onions, mints, thyme and rosemary that will help keep these critters at bay. But basil is an exception, so avoid planting this herb near cabbage.

Similarly, cabbage does not like tomato plants in its bed although it doesn’t seem to mind having potato plants as companions. Beans are no favorite of this cruciferous vegetable, especially pole beans.

Cauliflower

This popular cruciferous vegetable likes to have onion family plants and aromatic herbs as companions to ward off pests. But cauliflower has animosity towards basil, as in the case of cabbage.

Tomatoes are incompatible with cauliflower, so are beans. Also, avoid planting cauliflower in your strawberry patch, and vice versa.

Corn

The whole modern day idea of plant companionship hinges on the famous 3-sisters relationship between corn, beans, and squash. In fact, corn is a good companion to not only these, but other members of the cucurbit family such as melon, pumpkin, and cucumber, as well as most legumes and potatoes. Tomato is an exception, though.

Both corn and tomatoes are heavy feeders, which could be a reason for this incompatibility. If the soil is rich enough, they may not suffer as many ill effects when planted close to each other.

The corn earworm, also called tomato fruit worm, is a common pest of both the plants, so it makes sense to keep them away from each other.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a highly rewarding vegetable suitable for even novice gardeners. It is a blessing that cucumbers are great companion plants for beans and peas, as well as almost all vegetables of cabbage and nightshade families. Potato is the exception here, so don’t plant cucumbers near your potato plants.

Cucumbers seem to hate the company of aromatic herbs such as basil, sage, marjoram and rosemary for some reason.

Kale

This dark green leafy vegetable with superfood tag is a success in most gardens although it belongs to the pest-prone cabbage family. It obviously enjoys the protection offered by garlic, onions, dill, nasturtium, and, of course, mint family herbs like thyme, sage, and rosemary.

However, for some reason, kale hates the company of basil, which also belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae.

Kale also doesn’t get along well with tomato, although it’s fine with potato. Strawberry is another plant that kale is not comfortable with. The feeling is mutual, so keep them far apart.

Lettuce

These delicate leafy greens may seem like a cabbage relative, especially the head-forming types, but they actually belong to the daisy family. They do make good companions for kale and cauliflower, but not for most other members from the same cruciferous family.

Lettuces are known for being intolerant of Allium family members, including onions and garlic.

Melon

Melons are great companions to corn just as squash is. Spreading along the ground, they suppress weeds. Not only that, their large leaves act as an insulating layer over the soil, keeping the roots warm when it is cold, and cool when the temperature rises.

Melons are good with sunflowers and tomatoes too, but they do not like the company of potatoes, even though it is closely related to tomato.

Onion

This smelly bulb is a great companion to both nightshade vegetables and cabbage family. It surprisingly gets along with root crops like carrots and beets too.

What onions don’t seem to like are members of the legume family, which includes different types of beans and peas. Another vegetable incompatible to onions are asparagus, so keep them away from your asparagus patch.

Peppers

Peppers belong to the nightshade family, but are generally unaffected by the pest and disease problems encountered by other members of the family like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. So peppers have no issues growing beside them, but they cannot stand kohlrabi and fennel for some reason.

Fennel is antagonistic to nearly all plants in the vegetable garden, but that is not the case with kohlrabi. Peppers don’t seem to have any issues with other members of the cruciferous family to which kohlrabi belongs.

Potatoes

Potato plants have a large number of companions, but their enemy list is just as formidable.

They get along well with companions big and small, like corn, beans, peas, and cabbage family vegetables. They also benefit from the company of insect repelling marigolds, nasturtium, and catnip.

Potatoes enemies include cucumber, pumpkin, squash, tomato, sunflower and spinach.

Potatoes and tomatoes being both nightshade family plants with common pests and diseases may explain their incompatibility. Other vegetables might be competitors for nutrients and legroom.

Spinach

Spinach is a good companion to legumes like beans and peas. Spinach gets along well with strawberries and most cabbage family veggies as well. However, it doesn’t seem to like potatoes growing close by. One reason could be spinach’s shallow roots.

Potato plants, even though they are much larger than spinach, tend to keep their roots closer to the top soil. Competition for water and nutrients could play a part in making them enemies.

The lush top growth of potato plants block out the sun. This could be another reason why spinach is not so fond of potatoes.

Squash

This tasty veggie gets along well with beans, onions, and radishes, and appreciates having insect-repellent herbs and protective plants like mint, catnip, marigold and nasturtium.

What is surprising about squash is that, while it makes a good companion to melons, it cannot coexist happily with pumpkins. Squash is incompatible with potatoes as well.

Strawberry

These plants like to have bush beans planted near them, and appreciate the presence of onions, thyme, and sage, which help keep away pests that. Strawberry plants hate having any of the pest-prone cabbage family veggies close by, for obvious reasons.

Tomato

This garden staple attracts many pests which may affect other Solanaceae (nightshade) family veggies like potato, eggplant, and peppers, so it may be a good idea to avoid planting them together.

Keep that in mind when you do crop rotation too since many disease-causing microbes as well as eggs and larvae of common pests may remain in the soil for quite some time.

Also, do not plant tomatoes with corn, and cabbage family veggies.

Rosemary

This delightful herb not only looks great and smells great but does a wonderful job attracting pollinators.

Have several plants around, particularly near cruciferous vegetables. But avoid planting rosemary near cucumbers, this is not a good match.

Garlic

Most gardeners view garlic as a garden savior and grow it all over the place to keep the bugs away with its pungent smell. It is a great addition to any vegetable garden, especially when planted near tomatoes, radishes, roses, and cabbage family vegetables.

However, garlics ability to repel many garden pests does not seem to endear it to several other veggies.

Leguminous plants such as beans and peas fail to thrive when garlic is around. They show stunted growth and reduction in yield, especially snow peas. But many gardeners assure that there’s no problem as long as you leave sufficient distance between the bean plants and garlic so that their roots don’t have to share the same space. Do not plant garlic in your asparagus patch, though.

Do What Works Best

There may be many discrepancies between what different gardeners find to be good and bad companions for their veggies.

As mentioned earlier, it is not a precise science, but based on the gardening experiences of many home gardeners as well as some large vegetable growing companies.

Differences in weather and growing seasons, soil types, availability, as well as deficiency, of certain nutrients etc., may have a bearing on the compatibility issue.

For instance, if there are nutrient deficiencies in the soil, plants with similar needs will have more competition to access what little is available.

This also applies to the availability of water. Plants having their root zones in the same soil region can happily coexist if there’s plenty of water for all of them. But that wouldn’t be the case if they had to compete for the same.

Close observation plants will make you a good gardener. There can be no substitute for the attention you give to your garden.

Try out the planting guidelines given here to find what works for you and what does not. If you meticulously record your personal experiences, you might even discover several incompatibilities as well as beneficial companionships.

Want to know what plants can grow together?

Try these: 28 Companion Planting Combinations To Grow The Tastiest, Most Bountiful Food & Beautiful Flowers

Onions and Potatoes Grown in a Small Garden

Having a garden and a house in the countryside has always beenmy dream, and it became my husband’s too. During communism, buying a house in the countryside was almost impossible. But we, as city people, wouldn’t have wanted it anyway because we were too much used with civilization. My husband had grown up as a child visiting his grandparents’ house in the countryside, especially during summer vacations. After their death, the house was empty and no one else moved in. They just sold the house and rented the land to other people living there, to use it for growing cereals or whatever they would want to grow. This is our country’s main problem: people don’t work the land, mostly because they don’t have the means to do it and they prefer to sell it or rent it to others. Years after that, we were lucky to have the opportunity to build our house and have a small garden around it where I planted fruit trees and lots of plants, not far from the city of Bucharest.

Our garden isn’t so big, but I still tried to grow vegetables in there, among roses and zinnias. It was an experiment, but it worked and we ate a few tomatoes and sweet and hot peppers from our garden. That motivated me to want to grow more, in a bigger area. At first I tried to grow potatoes on a small quadrant of land, outside my garden, on the field. I dug up the land, weeded and raked, then planted pieces of sprouted potatoes. I watered every day, and fertilized once a week with organic fertilizer, such as vegetables and fruits leftovers. My neighbour taught me how to cover the potatoes with dirt after they started to grow, but forgot to tell me that I should have pinched off the blooms, so the roots should grow well. Nevertheless, they grew up nicely and we ate a bucket of potatoes from a few hills.

Last year, I thought I should grow more vegetables and wanted more land for our vegetables garden. I worked very hard and managed to have a good onion harvest. I planted yellow onion sets in April and by the end of July they were already grown. I chose to plant the onions on one edge of the garden, the one which was higher. Onions were planted there with a purpose, because they don’t need too much watering, so at one edge was perfect. This way I avoided overwatering , which could make them go rotten. The soil must be lightly fertilized. Spacing is about 3 to 4 inches between the sets, but I was careless when spacing properly between the lines, so when I was weeding it was very hard not to step on the onions’ leaves. Each small onion bulb needs to be plant in a small hole you make with your finger, with the roots head down, leaving the tip outside of the ground. Weeding must be done regularly. I was happy to watch their growth from the thin, to the thick leaves. One colleague told me that I needed to pinch off the blooms so the plants would concentrate all the food in the roots, not in the flowers and fruits. It would take 3 years to get my own onion seeds and obtain the onion sets without buying them from the market. First I need to sow onion seeds in early spring, harvest the small onions in late July. The second year I will plant the onion sets and harvest the onions. Third year I will plant the big onion heads and let them bloom and make seeds.

Only one of my onions had a bloom, which I pinched off immediately. The others just grew until their leaves began to lay down on the ground. This is when I had to walk on them and bend down all the leaves on the ground. Then I waited for another week or so, until the leaves got yellow and dry. Using a shovel, I dug the onions out, very carefully, so none would get harmed.

No need to say how proud I was of my onion harvest! I haven’t tried yet planting onion sets in the fall to have green onions in spring – same for garlic -, but I hope to try it this year, when my vegetable garden will be more weed-free.

I also planted again potatoes, but last year they didn’t grow as well as the year before because I didn’t have time to weed as much as I should and they had to fight the weeds’ roots for surviving. I even found one potato with a weed root inside it. The onion bed was more weed-free, that’s why they had more space to grow.

I am no expert in growing vegetables, but I can tell you that onions and potatoes are easy to grow, with minimal care and watering. Even from a small garden like mine, you can get a good harvest for your family and I bet it will be a better crop than mine, if you will learn from my mistakes.

It’s easy to cultivate potatoes on a homestead, and it’s well worth it: they’re a staple food that can be used in almost any kind of cooking. If you grow your own potatoes, you can be sure that they’re organic, non-GMO, and pesticide free. You can easily store them without freezing, drying or canning.

sethoscope / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Companion plants—plants that grow symbiotically near potatoes—can help you increase the yield, quality, and health of your potato crop. Here’s how to grow a sustainable bumper crop of potatoes by using companion planting.

Benefits Of Companion Planting

Organic gardeners find that companion planting offers a wide assortment of benefits including:

  • Increased yield
  • Better soil nutrition
  • Insect control
  • Weed control

Vegetables To Companion Plant With Potatoes

  • Horseradish: Horseradish can make your potato crop healthier. The root can also be ground up and turned into a spicy, mustard-like sauce or condiment.
  • Beans: Green beans add vital nutrients to the soil while and help repel the Colorado potato beetle. In turn, potatoes protect green beans by repelling the Mexican beetle, a nasty pest that can quickly destroy a lush crop of green beans.
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Spinach

Flower Power

Several colorful flowering plants offer protection for your potato crop. Beneficial blooming companion plants include:

  • Calendula: These flowers, also known as pot marigolds, are a colorful addition to any garden and attract pollinating bees. The flowers and young leaves are also edible. Add Calendula leaves and flowers to salads, sandwiches, and soups, or use them as an attractive garnish.
  • Alyssum: This flower acts as a colorful living mulch by holding in beneficial soil moisture. It also attracts predator wasps that devour harmful insect pests in the garden.
  • Petunias and Amaranth: These sweet-smelling flowers protect potatoes from leafhoppers.
  • Marigolds: Marigolds ward off beetles and other unwanted insects.

Plants That Can Harm Potatoes

Not all plants help potatoes. The plants listed below can actually damage your potato crop or your soil. Indeed, some of these plants can even cause blight in potatoes.

  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Raspberries
  • Pumpkins
  • Nightshades (e.g. eggplant, tomato, bell peppers)
  • Alliums (e.g. onions, garlic, chives)
  • Asparagus
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Sunflowers

Types Of Potatoes

Potatoes are a fine choice for the homestead garden. They emerge quickly and grow rapidly. Potatoes yield well under most soil and growing conditions and can be stored for long periods without canning, drying, or freezing.

There are more than 600 different varieties of potatoes. They’re generally divided into three culinary categories: waxy, starchy and all-purpose.

Waxy Potatoes

Waxy potatoes have a firm texture. Used in stews, soups, and salads, waxy potatoes retain their shape during cooking. Red Thumb, Carola, Cascade, Yellow Finn, White Rose, and Russian Banana are all common varieties.

Starchy Potatoes

Starchy potatoes are best for baking and frying. Due to their high starch content, they are also absorbent. These potatoes are delicious when topped or dipped in sauces. Russet potatoes are the most popular type of starchy potato.

All-Purpose Potatoes

All-purpose potatoes can be used in most recipes. They’re also the best type of potato for mashing. All-purpose potato varieties include Yukon Gold, Red Gold, Purple Majesty, Onaway, Kennebec, Elba, and All-Blue.

All varieties of potatoes can be cultivated in a container, a bucket, the ground, or a bag.

Potato Planting Guidelines

Follow these guidelines for the most productive possible potato crop.

When To Plant Potatoes

Avoid planting potatoes when the soil is still cold and wet. Potato plants will tolerate a light frost and chilly soil, but they won’t sprout until weather conditions are favorable. Consult USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps to determine the ideal planting time for your part of the country.

Where To Plant Potatoes

Plant potatoes in a location where they will receive full sun throughout the day. Do not plant in the same area where you have planted potatoes in the past year in order to prevent potato scab infection.

Improve The Soil Prior To Planting

Potatoes grow best in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. To fertilize potatoes, add aged herbivore manure or garden compost. If your soil contains a good amount of clay or is compacted, add sand to improve texture and drainage.

Potatoes will not grow well where water tends to pool. Potatoes grow in 5.5-6 PH soil. The soil should be tilled 10 inches deep and double raked.

Potatoes Do Not Grow From Seeds

You will not find potato seeds or seedlings at your local garden supply. Potatoes are grown from “seed” potatoes, which are simply potatoes with one or more sprouting eyes. Make sure that the seed potatoes you select are bruise and disease-free. At harvest, reserve blemish-free, healthy spuds for your next crop’s seed.

Seed Potatoes Can Be Cut in Pieces

Cut your seed potato into pieces. Make sure that each piece has at least one eye. This process will increase the yield of your crop. The number of potatoes you grow will increase, though you might find the potatoes are smaller than the ones you started with.

Give Potatoes Room To Grow

Plant potatoes in rows three feet apart. Plants should be placed 12-18 inches apart.

Conserve Water

Potatoes require about an inch and a half of water per week to develop to their full potential. According to the USDA, planting the potatoes in a flat bed rather than ridged rows conserves water and increases crop yield.

  • The United States Department Of Agriculture: Using Less Water To Grow More Potatoes
  • Penn State Extension: One Potato, Two Potato – How To Plant Potatoes
  • Oregon State University Extension Service: OSU Recommend Colorful Potatoes For Home Gardens

When not working in her garden in Northwestern Montana, Marlene Affeld writes of her love of nature and all things natural.

It may seem less than economical to grow your own onions and potatoes, however, the taste of these fresh vegetables more than return that investment. It takes only a minimum of effort which will lead to a bountiful harvest. In this article we will discuss a couple of different growing tactics as well as planting, fertilization, and harvest.

Due to the possibility of transference of disease and other factors, onion sets and seed potatoes must carry certification from the Idaho Department of Agriculture. This can limit some of the varieties that are available. Do not fret though, even common varieties will have a great and unique flavor in the home garden.

The first stage will be the preparation of the soil or growing medium. For those who will be planting directly into the ground it is a good idea to work compost, preferably a forest or Claybuster, along with some soil sulfur and bone meal prior to planting. A quick trip to our nursery and we can help you decide quantities and mixing ratio for success. Now if growing above ground a variety of approaches can be used, such as: raised beds, containers, weed fabric sacks, and even old tires. The idea behind growing above ground comes with several advantages. These include the ability to better control growing medium and fertilization as well as easier harvests and in many cases conservation of gardening space. With these methods a great deal of different potting mediums can be used. It is best to consult with us to help you decide what will be the best and most economical path for your endeavor.

We should discuss the ways to plant onions. Onions have three stages that they can be started from. The seed stage will be sown at a depth of a quarter inch around a month before last frost (or midsummer for a fall harvest). Starting from seed will most likely result in onions ranging from greens to small in size. The seedling stage usually comes in packs jammed with many starts. These should be separated and planted with just the white below soil level. Seedlings should yield onions small to medium in size, sometimes large if started early, and can be planted as soon as frost stops. The last stage is an onion set, basically a small onion, which can be planted approximately a month before last frost at a depth of one to two inches (Depending on bulb size). An onion set should yield medium to large onions. As a note it is important to remove any attempt at flowing while the onion is growing because the energy of the plant will be directed there.

Onward to planting potatoes. Potatoes are sold in a seed potato form that basically looks like a regular eating potato. This is then cubed into pieces containing between one and three eyes. These cubes are then left to dry for one to two days, away from direct sun. These are sown at a depth of about four inches around six weeks before the last frost. A watchful eye should be kept out for Colorado Potato Beetles, as the name implies, you might be able to guess their favorite food.

Watering can be crucial. Usually a healthy garden will need to stay moist in the beginning and finally when established be able to handle some drought. Our experience has been that some gardens are doomed with a “killing it from kindness” approach. Root crops such as onions and potatoes can be specially sensitive to the application of excessive water due to the possibility of root rot. This can be greatly increased or reduced by two simple variables: frequency/duration of watering and the growing medium.

A good growing medium is often sufficient for growing onions and potatoes, however, with proper fertilization the bounty can be increased significantly. The fertilization can range from combating our alkali soil to pumping maximum growth and productivity in our garden. We can range this application from light to aggressive organic or not. It would be best to discuss your personal gardening goals and interests with us to allow for the best possible program on this front. Also, it is essential to monitor the plants’ health and take samples to the nursery early if anything suspicious occurs. Fast diagnosis is often key to recovery and the ultimate goal of a tasty and abundant harvest.

Harvesting is fairly simple for these two crops. Potatoes are generally dug with a spade starting a safe distance from the plant and slowly working closer so as not to damage the edibles. This can sometimes be avoided with above ground methods that allow a full to segmented harvested without a shovel. Onions on the other hand need to have the tops snapped and laid over at the soil line. By damaging the green but allowing some to remain attached the plant will bring energy from the green to be stored in the desired root. This should be done approximately two weeks to harvest.

Hopefully you will enjoy bringing these two culinary classics to life in your backyard. The flavor and freshness should be exquisite. As always feel free to come to the nursery with any questions or concerns on your garden. Thank you and best of luck in your quest for fresh sustenance.

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