Harvesting potatoes that are the size of peas is disheartening.
Better yields come from proper preparation. The best way to ensure you get good-sized tater-tots starts with figuring out how far apart to plant potatoes.
If you plant them too close, they lack the space to mature, resulting in smaller-sized potatoes. Too much distance and you’re wasting growing space that could be used for a better yield.
So, how far indeed should you plant potatoes from each other?
How Far Apart to Plant Potatoes?
The spacing needed for tomatoes depends on where you’re planning to plant them. The absolute minimal distance to space potato seeds is 8 inches (20cm) for early harvesting of mini-tubers and 12 inches (30cm) for the larger potatoes. For maximum maturity, 15 inches (28cm) is the optimal spacing needed. If growing in rows, a minimum of 2-feet between rows is recommended. For container-grown potatoes, the minimum pot size or grow bag to use is 5-gallons for mini-tubers and 10-gallon ones for larger varieties. In all cases, hilling the soil from a starting depth of at least 4 inches (10cm), rising to between 12 to 18 inches (30-48cm) depth is required for best quality and yield.
How Much Space to Put Between Potatoes
The minimum recommended spacing to have between potatoes depends on the type of tuber you’re growing.
Mini-tubers are smaller-sized potatoes. Common varieties of mini-tubers include the following:
- Yukon Gold
- Purple Majesty
- Red LaSosa
These are ideal for smaller areas as you can plant them using 12 inches (30cm) spacing. But if you’re strapped for space, 10 inches (25cm) will suffice.
Larger potato varieties include the following:
- Rio Grande
- Russet varieties
- Nicola potatoes
These varieties do better with 12 inch-spacing (30cm). But, if you want bigger-sized individual potatoes rather than focus on the quantity, use 24-inch (61cm) distancing.
In this way, they can soak up more nutrients from the soil. Potatoes need lots of water, but the soil can’t remain soggy.
So it’s best to test your soil drainage to ensure it drains well enough to prevent infections such as white spots on potatoes.
The more space there is between your potatoes, the more nutrients each potato gets.
This applies to growing in rows, too.
For growing rows of potatoes, aim for at least 2 to 3 inches (5-8cm) between rows. For tubers, 12 to 15 (30-38cm) inches distance is the best for growing more taters.
Increase the spacing if you’re aiming for bigger-sized potatoes. You can do this if you plan to grow baking potatoes.
But, remember, though, that guidelines are only minimum recommendations.
Increasing the distance may produce bigger potatoes. Decreasing the distance will ultimately lower the size and the number of potatoes upon harvest time.
How do you grow potatoes from seeds?
Potatoes are one of the first vegetables new gardeners start with as they don’t take long to grow.
They can be grown from any potato that’s begun to sprout.
Whether you grow them in containers, grow bags, it doesn’t matter. You can even grow them using a no-dig gardening method if you’re experiencing back pains from digging.
Understand, though, that the term “seed potato” is not referring to a true seed. It’s a part of a potato that’s sprouted at least one eye.
When you buy seed potatoes, you’re purchasing whole potatoes that are sold to grow more.
Also, take note of the difference between grocery stores and garden centers.
- Grocery stores sell potatoes for consumption.
- Garden centers sell seed potatoes for growing.
Store-bought potatoes are treated with a sprout-inhibitor to give them longer shelf lives.
For that reason, even if your potatoes do sprout an eye or two, you won’t get a good yield as you would with a true seed potato.
Seed potatoes are disease-free, too. This is important to know as it is possible to accidentally introduce harmful bacteria into your garden soil, ultimately ruining it.
How to Plant Seed Potatoes
Seed potatoes are the size of baby potatoes when you buy them.
Planting whole seed potatoes will grow larger potatoes. Cutting the potato into at least 1-inch slices (2.5cm) will grow smaller-sized potatoes, with each piece having at least one eye.
The middle-ground is to use slices with two eyes sprouted that’s 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5cm) in thickness.
How Deep to Plant Seed Potatoes
The depth of soil required for all types of seed potatoes starts with a minimum of 4 inches of soil (10cm).
However, they always need to be underground. So, as they grow, they need more soil added. This is referred to as hilling.
Potato seeds are planted with the cut side down so that the eyes are pointing upwards. This is where the shoots will sprout up through the soil.
As the tuber grows underground, the more soil you’ll need to add. This will protect the growing tuber from direct sunlight.
If you don’t add more soil, overexposing the potato to sunlight creates a toxin called solanine. It turns their skin green, making the potatoes taste bitter.
Green potatoes aren’t poisonous, but they’re not a pleasant taste either.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spacing Potatoes
How Do I Calculate How Much Seed Potato I Need to Buy?
If you have the space to grow in rows, the yield ratio of seed potatoes is 1:10. This means that one pound of seed potato can cover ten feet of ground space at the recommended 10 to 12 inch spacing (25-30.5cm). If you’re happy with growing traditional baby-sized potatoes, 1.5 pounds of seed potato will grow smaller-sized potatoes using 8-inch (21cm) spacing.
How many potato seeds can grow in a container?
When growing in containers, aim for no less than a 5-gallon container. 10-gallon capacity is preferable as one seed potato plant can harvest 5 to 10 potatoes. A regular grow bag has around a 50-quarts capacity, which is enough for three potato plants. Jumbo grow bags can hold as much as 120 quarts of soil, making them suitable for between 7 and 10 mini-tubers. If you’re upcycling items (old tires, dustbins with drainage holes), aim for 2-pounds of soil per tuber with enough height to continue adding dirt to a depth of 12-18 inches (30-46cm). In containers, mini-tubers will grow better than larger-sized potato varieties.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.