How Much Space do You Need to Grow Potatoes at Home?

by Annette Welsford No Comments
Field of Potatoes
Field of Potatoes

Potatoes are an incredibly important commercial crop all over the world. They also, undeniably, take up a lot of space. If you look at farmers' fields of potatoes you will surely imagine they go on forever. This is probably why relatively few home gardeners bother with potatoes. Another reason is that they are so readily available on our supermarket shelves, at relatively – and sometimes extremely – low prices.

However home gardeners can produce a comparatively "profitable" crop if they devote just a few square metres to several rows of this superbly rewarding vegetable. After all, there's nothing better than home grown.

Generally if you harvest the potatoes while they are young – in other words aim for crops of new, baby potatoes – you will find this vegetable easier to cope with. Those who have tried will endorse the reassurance that it really is worth the effort.

Rather than trying to ascertain how much space you need to grow potatoes in your home veggie garden, it is probably an easier exercise to see how much space you can make available. Then you can work out how many potato plants you can aim for. Certainly the way plants are spaced has a significant effect on how they will grow.

On average, you need to allow between 225 and 250 mm between plants in each row. This means that for every meter-long row you plant, you won't be able to accommodate more than three, maximum four (if there's additional space at either end) plants. So if you have a patch that is about a meter square, you won't get more than nine to a dozen plants (again depending on the space around the patch).

It takes about 12 weeks for the tubers to produce potatoes that are about the size of hen's eggs – which are ideal baby potatoes. And if you harvest them correctly, and don't grab every potato the plant has produced, they will continue to grow and therefore continue to produce more and more potatoes for you to harvest.

Apart from the size of your potato garden, you must also be sure that the soil is well prepared. Crop rotation is another very important factor. Be sure that potatoes and any plants they are related to – this includes tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and peppers – haven't been grown in the same area for at least three years.  Even though sweet potatoes belong to a different family, they are attacked by the same pests that attack ordinary Irish or white potatoes, so bear this in mind for crop rotation.

If you don't follow the rules of good plant (specifically potato) husbandry, it doesn't matter how big or small your fields are, you won't produce good potatoes.