Potato Companion Crops: Spud Buddies

Potatoes are a staple food in many parts of the world. This starchy tuber can be fried, mashed, baked, roasted or grilled to create a variety of dishes. Potatoes are highly recommended if you are growing your own food as they are easy to grow and store over the winter. Fortunately for gardeners, there are many potato companion plants that grow well with potatoes and will help make your experience more enjoyable.

Companion plants to potatoes are responsible for deterring pests, attracting beneficial insects, adding nutrients to the soil, and improving taste. Remember that potatoes grow deep underground. So when choosing companion plants, avoid plants with deep roots and opt for shallow rooted plants so that they do not interfere with the growth of the tubers.

Planting potatoes is easy when you know all the do's and don'ts. Let's dive into all of the plants you should plant with your potatoes and which plants to avoid.

What is accompanying planting?

Which potato companion plants are best for you? Source: mcav0y

In accompanying planting, plants are strategically placed next to each other so that they can benefit each other. It has been used for years and probably dates back to ancient times. It is often used by organic gardeners today because of its many benefits without the use of chemicals or genetically modified plants.

The benefits of companion planting depend on each plant and what it can do for other plants. For example, potatoes benefit from nitrogen in the soil, so planting a nitrogen-fixing plant near potatoes is a smart choice.

Many gardeners use flowers as companion plants to attract pollinators into the garden. Food doesn't grow without pollinators, so adding one or two (or ten!) Companion plants will improve your yield. Flowers also attract beneficial insects that pests will eat, so you don't have to worry about resorting to chemicals.

You can also use companion plants to make your life easier. You can plant large and sturdy plants near grapevines for a natural trellis. Sunflowers and corn make great trellises for peas or beans. You can also use fast growing plants as row markers by planting them at the end of your rows. This way you can easily see where to place seeds to avoid accidental duplication in the room.

Good companion potatoes

chivesChives have shallow roots and can help fight off some pests. Source: Maria

Now that we've looked at the benefits of companion plants in general, let's take a look at which plants are good companion plants for potatoes.

First, think about how potatoes grow. They have leaves above the ground, and the roots and tubers of potatoes grow deep underground. The roots are mostly above the tubers and leave some space just above the ground level.

Good companion plants have shallow roots that do not disturb the potatoes. Companion plants should be planted next to potatoes to avoid disturbance, but it is always best to avoid potential problems. Some good shallow root options include a variety of herbs, including chives, basil, and parsley.

Brassicas like broccoli, cabbage, napa cabbage, kale, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi also have shallow roots that work with potatoes. Some sources advise against planting cabbage plants near potatoes as they make the soil alkaline; However, it shouldn't be a problem if your soil is neutral or slightly acidic. Leafy greens, including spinach and lettuce, also have short roots that can't keep up. The potato leaves benefit the salad as they provide shade so that the salad does not burn.

Potatoes planted alongside French and runner beans, field beans, peas, and lentils grow larger, taste better, and produce a higher yield. Legumes are nitrogen-fixing plants, which means that they release nitrogen into the soil. Potatoes benefit from nitrogen, so these plants are good choices. Avoid planting peanuts, however, as they can grow up to three feet into the ground, which could stunt the growth of your potatoes as they have to compete for space.

Potatoes are susceptible to Colorado beetles and other harmful insects. Planting flowers and certain herbs will help deter harmful insects and attract beneficial insects that will eat pests. Herbs like coriander and thyme are great for attracting the good beetles. Catnip also attracts beneficial insects, but it also attracts cats who may view your potato crop as a litter box or bed. Sage and mint deter pests, including flea beetles, but these are invasive and will quickly invade your potato bed. Try planting these in containers so you can keep them under control.

There are so many useful flowers for potatoes that it is hard to list them all! Alyssum, petunia, chamomile, yarrow, borage, lovage, and marigold all attract beneficial insects. Sunflowers attract pollinators like bees, so it's great to have them around potatoes too. Flax and marigold repel Colorado beetles, so they are ideal as companion plants around the potato bed. Nasturtium acts as a trap fruit that attracts pests like potato plants. Plant nasturtiums close enough to the potatoes that you can attract them, but not close enough that they wander away from the flowers.

Some vegetables that are good to grow alongside potatoes are corn, leeks, onions, garlic, and radishes. Corn can improve the taste of potatoes, leeks and radishes have shallow roots so they don't compete and repel onions and garlic pests. Accompanying vegetables are ideal for organic horticulture, as they allow you to make optimal use of your space.

Don't forget that your potato plants can also help other plant species. A good plant for nearby potatoes is beans, as the potatoes repel Mexican bean beetles. While the potato harvest struggles with the Mexican bean beetles, your beans growing next to them will reduce the Colorado beetle population, making both your potato harvest and your bean harvest better overall by relieving pressure from insect pests.

What not to plant with potatoes

Daikon radishesDaikon radishes have large roots that compete for space with potatoes. Source: detsugu

There are plenty of good neighbors for potato plants, but there are also combinations that you should avoid. Poor companions can cause diseases to spread quickly, compete for nutrients, overtake the bed and deform the potatoes.

When it comes to potatoes, avoid planting near any other nightshade family that are part of the nightshade family. Potatoes are related to eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. These plants are all susceptible to rot, leaf spot, and mosaic viruses. If they are planted close together, they can quickly spread the disease to one another, resulting in the loss of many crops. If any of these plants are attacked by pests, they'll hop from harvest to harvest easily and become more difficult to get rid of. Other plants that do not belong to the nightshade family are also susceptible to tuber rot and other diseases, such as apple, peach, cherry and other stone fruit trees and raspberry bushes.

Pumpkins and other gourds compete with your potatoes for nutrients, so avoid planting potatoes near these plants. Cucumbers and related plants like cantaloupe or watermelon require a lot of water and will fight for it with your potatoes. You will likely grow around the potato plants and eventually suffocate them.

Fennel is allelopathic, which means it can affect plant growth. They can make potatoes small and misshapen, stunt their growth, or cause them to stop growing completely. Fennel attracts beneficial insects and repels fleas, so it's good for the garden, but it's best if you grow it in a container rather than near your potatoes.

We mentioned earlier that deep-rooted plants shouldn't be grown with potatoes as they stunt their growth. Root vegetables to avoid include daikon radish, carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips. Asparagus should also be avoided as it has a large root system. Horseradish is a great pest prevention agent, but the size of the large horseradish root can be an issue.

As a general rule of thumb, plants with different growing requirements should be avoided. Potatoes prefer loose soil so that they can grow easily. They are prone to root rot, so the soil needs to be slightly dry. Growing plants that prefer more compact soil or plenty of water are not good companions for your potato crop.

frequently asked Questions

Potato plantsPotato plants have nothing against neighbors with shallow roots. Source: Mullica

Q: Can I plant potatoes near tomatoes?

A: Potato plants and tomatoes should be at least 6 feet apart. They both belong to the nightshade family, so they are prone to the same diseases and pests. When they are assembled in the same room, the chances of a pest or disease outbreak are much higher.

Q: How many potatoes do you get per plant?

A: Count on 5-10 potatoes per plant. You can have a few large ones and several small ones on each plant. Yield depends on many factors, including the variety of potato, the number of eyes on a seed potato, the quality of the soil, and the amount of water it gets. If potatoes are grown with a companion plant, you may notice an increase in yield. However, if you grow potatoes near plants that are not recommended, you may see lower yields or smaller potatoes.

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