The Gardening Mistake Everyone Makes When Growing Potatoes

Growing potatoes can be a rewarding gardening experience since they are generally easy to grow and they provide a generous bounty — as long as potatoes get plenty of sun, weekly watering, and good soil these hardy vegetables usually yield a nice harvest. However, one common mistake that many gardeners make is planting them too close together.

Potatoes can be planted directly in the garden as long as the soil is loose and rich. However, they can also be planted in pots or containers if you would rather grow a small amount of the vegetable. They should be planted in soil that drains well and won't collect water. Aim to water your potatoes an inch per week, but be careful, as water that collects either from poor drainage or overwatering can result in root rot. Just as you ensure that your potatoes get enough water and sunlight, it is equally important that they get enough space to grow.

Consequences of planting potatoes too close

As the plants grow, having enough space to develop properly is essential for producing a large, healthy crop. This may seem like a minor oversight, but it can greatly affect the health and productivity of your crop. When potatoes are planted too close, they don't have enough space so they compete for resources such as water, nutrients, and light, and that can lead to a range of problems. When left without sufficient nourishment and vitamins, they can eventually acquire nutrient deficiencies. Consequently, one of the biggest impacts of overcrowding is reduced growth, leading to a crop with smaller potatoes.

Besides yielding smaller potatoes, planting these root vegetables too close can increase the risk of disease and pest infestations. When plants are crowded, moisture and humidity levels increase, creating the ideal environment for fungal diseases such as late blight. To prevent late blight try to provide a healthy dry environment for potatoes to grow by giving them enough space so that there is adequate airflow between the plants.

The ideal spacing for potatoes

The ideal spacing for potatoes depends on what variety of potatoes you will be planting. As a general rule, potatoes should be planted about 12 to 15 inches apart, with 3 feet of space between each row. They should go about 6 to 8 inches into the soil. This allows for good air circulation, adequate sunlight, and sufficient room for root development. For smaller potato varieties, like Yukon Gold and fingerlings, spacing can be closer, around 8 inches apart. Alternatively, for larger potatoes like Russet, the spacing can be wider and it's recommended they be planted up to 20 inches apart.

Though the vast space of a garden is ideal for planting a large crop, you can easily grow potatoes in a container or pot. They are one vegetable that grows well in a bucket. If you choose to use containers to grow your potatoes instead of the garden, you should stick to similar spacing recommendations. Just like in the garden, aim for about a foot of space between each potato, but feel free to go up or down a couple of inches depending on size and variety.