One of the most, if not the most, favorite vegetables is the potato. They are easy to grow in a garden with many varieties. They come in different colors and types that are best for baking, mashing, or boiling.
However, they are susceptible to diseases and pests and are heavy feeders. You may have heard that you should practice crop rotation with potatoes because of this. Can you grow potatoes in the same place each year?
You shouldn’t plant potatoes in the same place year after year. Pests such as potato cysts, eelworms, and diseases can build up in the soil if you do so. Also, potatoes are heavy feeders, and the soil can become depleted if you continually plant them in the same bed.
Now that you know you need to rotate the crops in the bed you use to plant potatoes, you may have other questions. Let’s dive in to learn what vegetables you can grow after potatoes, how often to rotate them, and more!
How Often Can You Plant Potatoes in the Same Place?
Potatoes shouldn’t be planted in the same bed two years in a row. That bed should be planted with other vegetables for at least one or two years. Others recommend waiting for three or four years before replanting potatoes in that area.
There are two reasons for this: Soil depletion, pests, and disease.
Potatoes are what are called heavy feeders. This means that they take in a lot of nutrients from the soil, especially nitrogen. When another potato crop is planted in that same soil a second year, that crop will deplete the soil of those nutrients, resulting in fewer potatoes or the need to use fertilizer.
By planting something that requires different nutrients than potatoes, the soil will retain sufficient nourishment for the potatoes when they are later replanted. Legumes can restore nitrogen levels in the soil and are a good option.
Eelworms can live in the soil for years. They lay eggs on and feed on the roots of potatoes and other plants in the nightshade family. When any of these are planted in the same bed after the potatoes are harvested, these pests will worsen yearly, as they can feed on their favorite plants.
It’s best to use fresh USDA-Certified seed potatoes every year to plant rather than save some of your own potatoes. This will ensure you’re not introducing eelworms or anything else harmful to your new crop.
Another pest that attacks potatoes is the Colorado Potato Beetle. These lay eggs on the underside of the leaves. You must deal with these as soon as possible, as the larvae do the most damage. You can use insecticidal soap or neem oil, but all the eggs and larvae must be covered. You can also pick them off by hand. The adults have a hard shell and are resistant to the sprays, so they need to be picked off by hand. They burrow into the ground around the potato plant at night and emerge and climb up the plant in the morning.
The potato plants may develop a disease, such as potato blight or scab. Even if you don’t see a sign of them, they may be in the soil. As with the eelworms, planting potatoes or other nightshades in the same area in consecutive years will cause the diseases to increase. This was the leading cause of the spread of potato blight in Ireland that led to the Irish potato famine in the 1800s.
Potatoes that are missed during harvest and left underground are called volunteers. They will sprout and grow the following spring. These need to be pulled up and destroyed as soon as they’re seen, as they can harbor disease.
What Crops Can Be Rotated After Potatoes?
As stated earlier, potatoes are members of the nightshade family. None of these vegetables should be planted in the patch where potatoes had been grown the prior year. They will all be susceptible to the same diseases and pests.
Other vegetables that shouldn’t be planted after potatoes are root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, or turnips. Any underground pests will feed on their roots as they would those of the potatoes.
You can plant something else for the same year after you harvest the potatoes to be picked in the fall or early winter or wait until the following spring.
Legumes can be planted because they can produce their nitrogen, and when they die, they give nitrogen to the soil. Other good options for retaining nutrients are light-feeding crops.
You can go by a rhyme to decide what to plant each year to help reduce pests, diseases, and soil depletion. It’s beans, roots, greens, and fruits. Here are examples.
Beans: green beans and peas
Roots: potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips
Greens: lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and cabbage
Fruits: cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, corn, and squash
So, try some greens next year after this year’s potato crop. It just might get you to try new vegetables.
What Other Ways Can You Plant Potatoes?
If you have a small garden space, one way of avoiding the need to plant potatoes in a new spot every year is to grow them in containers for a year or two. The yield will be smaller, and you will have to pay more attention to watering, but harvesting is as easy as dumping out the soil and potatoes.
There are several garden containers these days, and some are specifically for potatoes. They look like big buckets with a flap on the bottom half of one side that you open to get to the potatoes when they are ready to harvest.
You’ve now learned what plagues potatoes and why you shouldn’t plant them in the same garden bed for consecutive years. You’ve also discovered a rhyme to use when deciding what to grow each year.
Now you’re prepared to pick which of the many varieties of potatoes to plant. What is your favorite way to prepare potatoes? Whether you like baked or mashed potatoes or potato salad, some types will be best for that recipe. There are even different colors: yellow, red, and blue. You may find you need a bigger garden plot than you initially thought.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!