Once you have bought your seed potatoes and finished chitting/sprouting them, time has come to plant them out. So, how do you plant potatoes? Well – the answer to that question is not as straight forward as it might seem, simply because there are a number of variables to take into account, such as where do you plant them (vegetable plot, raised beds and containers), what kind of potatoes are they (earlies/maincrop) – and so on. Hopefully you will find an answer to suit your needs below.
Planting Potatoes In A Garden/Allotment/Vegetable Plot
When planting potatoes in a vegetable plot in your garden or allotment, you will usually be planting straight into the soil. While potatoes will grow in practcally any kind of soil, you’ll get by far the best result in a fine/loose garden soil with plenty of organic matter, such as well rotted farm yard manure in it.
Also, to avoid potato diseases, you should never grow potatoes in the same spot within 2-3 years. In stead, grow plants from a different plant family, such as cabbages or peas/beans. You can read more about crop rotation here (opens in new window).
In a garden setting you’d usually grow your potatoes in rows. The spacing between the rows and the tubers/seed potatoes can be seen on this drawing:
Dig a trench, approximately 4-6 inches (10-15cm) deep, and put in your seed potatoes. Cover the seed potatoes back over with soil, to create a low ridge, using a rake. If your soil isn’t fine/crumbly, you may want to cover the seed potatoes with a multi purpose compost or well rotted farm yard manure, before raking the soil back to form the ridge.
Planting Potatoes In Raised Beds
The ‘rules’ for planting potatoes in raised beds are pretty much the same as for planting straight into the soil. Only difference is that in raised beds you’ve got a chance of growing your potatoes in fresh soil/compost.
Again, you shouldn’t be planting potaoes in raised beds where potaoes have been grown in the last 2-3 years, due to the risk of soil borne diseases, unless you have emptied the raised bed of all soil and replaced it with fresh compost before planting.
Another thing you can do is to plant in holes rather than thenches, and then use a mix of fresh compost/well rotted organic matter to ‘earth up’ round the plants while they’re growing.
How To Plant Potatoes In Containers
If growing space is an issue, and you chose to grow your seed potatoes in containers in your yard, start by putting compost mixed with well rotted manure in the container, until 1/3 full. Put 4-6 inches of soil on top. Once shoots start to appear, keep covering with compost until the container is full, and leave to grow. Check out the section on how to grow potatoes in containers.