Growing food

How Deep to Plant Potatoes? (Explained)

Potatoes are what I’d like to call a beginner’s crop. It doesn’t take much for them to grow, and they produce abundant harvests with a single seed. Plus, you can plant them almost any time of the year!

The only problem with potatoes is that there are a ton of factors that can affect their yield and quality. One of these many factors is planting depth. Gardeners should always know how deep to plant potatoes if they want a prolific harvest at the end of the growing season.

Potatoes must be planted at a depth of between 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm), depending on the variety. Small varieties prefer being planted closer to the surface, while larger varieties thrive deeper in the soil.

How Deep to Plant Potatoes?

As a general rule, the ideal planting depth of potatoes is between 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) deep. Planting seed potatoes too deep into the soil slows down their growth since it’ll take them longer to reach the surface.

Planting too deep in the soil can also cause the potato seeds to rot. This is because the deeper you plant the seed, the more it’s exposed to moist soil. If a seed is exposed to moist soil for extended durations, it could eventually rot and die.

On the other hand, planting seed potatoes too close to the surface increases the risk of potato sunburn. If potatoes get sunburned due to prolonged sun exposure, their skin will turn green and eventually black, making the crop unusable due to the increased toxic solanine.

Can Potatoes be Planted Too Deep?

Potatoes can be planted too deep. Planting potatoes deeper than the recommended depth of 8 inches (20 cm) can cause them to rot before they even get the chance to sprout.

Even if they somehow manage to send up shoots, they might run out of energy before they reach the surface, resulting in a significant delay in growth. Instead of harvesting your potatoes in 10 weeks, you’ll be forced to wait for an additional 3 to 4 weeks because they were buried too deep.

How Deep Should a Container be for Potatoes?

When planting potatoes in a container, the deeper the pot, the better. It should be at least 15 inches (38 cm) deep to encourage fast and comfortable growth. It should also be at least 15 inches (38 cm) wide in diameter.

When planting seeds in a container, be mindful of the space around it. Here’s how many potato seeds you can plant per gallon:

  • 3-gallon bucket: 1 seed potato
  • 5-gallon bucket: 2 seed potatoes
  • 7-gallon bucket: 3 seed potatoes
  • 10-gallon bucket: 5 seed potatoes
  • 20-gallon bucket: 7 seed potatoes

Each seed must be planted about 8 inches (20 cm) apart. For large varieties like Russet, 12 inches (30 cm) of space is ideal.

How Deep to Plant Potatoes in a Container?

When planting potatoes in a container, they must be buried 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in the soil. The container itself must be roughly 15 inches (38 cm) deep to allow the growth of roots.

Burying the seeds too deep in the container won’t increase potato production. In fact, it’ll have the reverse effect: instead of producing 8 to 10 potatoes from one seed, it’ll produce less than half the amount. So, be careful when burying seed potatoes – your final yield depends on it!

When growing potatoes in a container, make sure to use fast-draining, high-quality potting soil, especially if you’re using a plastic container. If you don’t have fast-draining potting soil, organic soils work equally well.

To increase the chance of successful growth, add a bit of organic, slow-release fertilizer into the potting soil. Avoid conventional fertilizer as it can easily burn the seeds.

Once you’ve prepared the soil, place the seed potato onto the container with the eye buds facing up. This is where the sprouts will develop.

Cover the seeds with about 6 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) of soil, depending on the climate. The cooler the climate, the less soil is required on top.

How much Space does a Potato Plant Need?

The space a potato plant needs depends on the potato variety.

Small potatoes like Fingerlings don’t need much space; you can plant them 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cm) apart without worrying about them clumping up together.

Larger potatoes need almost double the space of small potatoes. Ideally, they should be planted 12 inches (30 cm) apart to allow for ample growing space.

Spacing also depends on your garden type:

Square-Foot Garden

For square-foot gardens, seed potatoes should be evenly spaced at a rate of one per square foot. A 4 x 4 feet garden bed (1.2 x 1.2 meters) can house a total of around 16 potato plants.

Farm-Style Garden

If you’re planting your potatoes with farm-style spacing, your trenches should be spaced 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) apart. Each trench should be at least 6 inches wide and 8 inches deep (15 cm wide and 20 cm deep).

Set one seed potato every 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm) into the trench. Then, add 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) of compost over the seeds. You can reduce the spacing by 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) if you’re growing baby potatoes.

Containers and Grow Buckets

In bags and buckets, plant no more than one to two seed potatoes per container, depending on the size.

Place the seeds at least 8 inches (20 cm) apart. For larger varieties, the seeds must be at least 12 inches (30 cm) apart.

If the container is lacking in depth, use a sheet of cardboard to extend its height. It should be at least 15 inches (38 cm) deep to yield a big potato harvest.

When using containers or grow bags, make sure to add plenty of drainage holes not only at the bottom but also at the sides. Potatoes don’t grow in standing water, so drainage holes are extremely important if you want a prolific harvest.

Final Thoughts

The depth in which you plant your seed potatoes has a big effect on the resulting harvest. If you plant the seeds too deep, they’ll either rot or take double the time to grow. If you plant them too close to the surface, the seeds may get sunburnt, dry out, or both.

The ideal depth of planting potatoes is between 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) deep, depending on the variety. Small varieties should be planted closer to the surface, while larger varieties should be planted deeper into the soil.

Spacing is just as important as planting depth. If you plant seeds too close together, they won’t have enough room to grow, resulting in a lesser-than-average yield. Seed potatoes must be planted at least 12 inches (20 cm) apart, especially if they’re of large varieties.

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