Wondering what to plant after potatoes? There are several factors to consider including crop rotation and the time of year. Crop rotation is a key strategy for reducing pest and disease problems, as well as nutrient depletion. The other point to keep in mind is timing. Potatoes can be dug in mid to late summer as a new potato crop or left to mature for a fall harvest of storage spuds. When you harvest your potatoes can influence what you next plant in the bed. Below I share my ten favorite vegetables to plant after potatoes to help you grow a healthy and productive garden.
Why it’s important to consider what to plant after potatoes
Potatoes, a member of the nightshade family, are an easy vegetable to grow and thrive when planted in a sunny site with fertile, well-draining soil. However, potato plants are prone to diseases like early blight, late blight, white mold, and Verticillium wilt. They can also be attacked by pests like Colorado potato beetles, wireworms, and the dreaded flea beetle. These pests and diseases also affect related crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
When deciding what to plant after potatoes, you’ll want to practice crop rotation to reduce the chance of these problems. Crop rotation is the practice of following a group of vegetables with a different group of vegetables from season to season or year to year. More on crop rotation strategies below.
Timing also comes into play when thinking about what to plant after potatoes. Are you trying to figure out what to plant the year after growing potatoes in a bed? Or are you wondering if you still have enough time left in your current growing season to get a second crop from that space? I’m a savvy succession planter and like to follow one crop with another. So when my new potato harvest comes out of the ground in mid-August, I amend the soil and replant the bed. I’ll choose root crops or salad greens that still have time to mature before the cold weather settles in.
When deciding what to plant after potatoes keep crop rotation in mind
As noted above, practicing crop rotation is essential for a healthy vegetable garden as it reduces the risk of many pests and plant diseases. Crop rotation also plays a part in soil fertility and can lower the occurrence of nutrient deficiencies. Most gardeners base crop rotation on plant families like Solanaceae, the potato family. This is because related crops usually have similar light and moisture requirements, fall prey to the same pests and diseases, and need comparable amounts of nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
Here is a list of the main vegetable plant families. As you can see the last two categories aren’t plant families, but rather types of crops. Like related vegetables these crops have similar cultural and nutrient needs and are typically grown together.
- Solanaceae family – potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, ground cherries
- Brassicaceae family – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi
- Fabaceae family – beans, peas, soybeans
- Cucurbitaceae family – cucumbers, squash (summer squash, winter squash, and pumpkin), melons, gourds
- Amaryllidaceae family – onions, leeks, garlic, shallots
- Root vegetables – carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, parsnips
- Leafy vegetables – lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, herbs
You can use this information to decide what to plant after potatoes on a year to year basis or when succession planting in late summer or autumn.
What to plant after potatoes: A 4 year crop rotation plan
Most gardeners aim to follow a 3 or 4 year crop rotation plan. That means you don’t plant the same vegetable family in the same spot or garden bed for 3 or 4 years. This timeframe is generally long enough to reduce the risk of disease or pest issues. Plus, adding soil building legumes like beans and peas into your crop rotation plan helps enrich the soil.
A basic 4 year crop rotation plan:
- Year 1 – Solanaceae vegetables like potatoes
- Year 2 – Root vegetables
- Year 3 – Fabaceae crops
- Year 4 – Brassicaceae & Cucurbitaceae crops
After year 4 the cycle begins again with the Solanaceae family vegetables. I tuck herbs and annual flowers in my beds wherever there is space as they don’t typically interfere with crop rotation and attract pollinating and beneficial insects. Good companions include dill, parsley, cilantro, sunflowers, marigolds, and nasturtium varieties.
What to plant after potatoes: A crop rotation plan based on succession planting
If you dug your potato crop early enough in the growing season, you may have time left to establish a second crop in the garden. When selecting vegetables and varieties to plant, check the days to maturity listed on the seed packet to see how much time is needed. Count backwards from your first expected fall frost date. For example, Hakurei turnips need 28 days to go from seed to harvest. So you’ll need to plant them about a month before the first frost.
An easy way to speed up successive crops is to start the seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings into the garden. I do this with beets, Swiss chard, scallions, and lettuce. I sow the seeds inside under my grow lights about a month before I plan on harvesting my potatoes. Once the tubers are out of the ground, I amend the soil with about an inch of compost and an organic vegetable fertilizer and tuck the vigorous new seedlings into the ground.
What to plant after potatoes: 10 high-yield crops
Now that we know more about the importance of crop rotation and how to figure out if you have enough time for a succession planting, let’s focus on my favorite crops to grow after potatoes.
Turnips are a perfect crop for the spring or fall garden. The tubers are sweet and crisp and we also enjoy the vitamin-packed greens raw and steamed. This is a fast-growing vegetable with the plants ready to pull about 38 to 50 days after direct seeding, depending on the variety. I plant the seeds in 4 to 6 inch wide bands, spacing them 1 inch apart. When the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, I thin them to 2 inches apart, eating the baby greens. Pull whenever the roots are a harvestable size, usually 1 to 2 inches across.
Think beets when you’re trying to figure out what to plant after potatoes. This popular root vegetable produces sweet, earthy roots and top quality greens. They do best in loose, loamy soil like the earth after digging a crop of potatoes. Direct sow the seeds or transplant 4 to 5 week old seedlings in garden beds. I space the seeds an inch apart and eventually thin to 3 inches apart. If transplanting, space each seedling 3 inches apart. The roots can be pulled for baby beets or allowed to size up for a storage crop.
Like beets, carrots prefer a deep, loose soil making them a good choice after potatoes. I amend the soil with a scant inch of compost and direct sow the seeds spacing them 3/4 to 1 inch apart. I like to plant carrots in 4 to 6 inches wide bands spacing the bands 16 to 18 inches apart. For good germination, carrots need consistently moist soil so water the newly planted seed bed often.
When the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, thin them an inch apart for baby carrots or 2 inches apart for full-sized roots. I use garden snips to cut off the extra plants at the soil level. Start to harvest as soon as the roots are the desired size. However, if you have issues with wireworms in your garden, don’t plant carrots after potatoes. Instead choose a leafy green like lettuce or a legume like bush beans.
There are different types of radishes you can grow after potatoes. The first is spring radishes and there are many varieties available. Spring radishes are one of the fastest growing vegetables with the roots ready to harvest about a month from planting. The other type is daikon radish, also called winter radish. These take a bit longer to grow, around 50 to 60 days and have long, oblong, or rounded roots. I direct sow seed for both types of radishes one inch apart. I don’t thin spring radishes, but I do thin daikon varieties when the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall. They’re best spaced 4 to 6 inches apart depending on the mature size of the root. Harvest as the roots approach the mature size listed on the seed packet.
There are several types of beans you can grow including bush beans, pole beans, and runner beans. Bush beans are the quickest to grow and therefore the best option for succession planting in mid summer. In my zone 5B garden I often sow bush beans like Provider, Rocdor, and Royal Burgundy after I harvest new potatoes in early August. Most varieties of bush beans take 50 to 55 days to start cropping. You can also plant beans in spring as the second year crop rotation after a harvest of potatoes. Space the seeds 2 inches apart and rows 20 to 24 inches apart. Harvest when the pods are 4 to 5 inches long.
Peas are a cool season legume that can be planted in early spring for an early summer harvest or in mid-summer for a fall crop. Like beans, peas are a legume and fix atmospheric nitrogen, improving the soil. If planting in spring direct sow the seeds as soon as you can work the soil. To grow peas as a succession crop after a summer harvest of new potatoes, plant the seeds after you’ve dug the potatoes and prepped the bed. Summer planted peas need about 60 days of growth before harvest so opt for an early maturing variety. If powdery mildew is a problem in your late summer garden, also choose a resistant variety like Knight, Green Arrow, or Sugar Ann. Plant pea seeds 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart and provide support if growing a vining variety like Sugar Snap.
Lettuce is my go-to salad green in spring as well as fall and winter. There are many types to grow including romaine, looseleaf, and butterhead with a wide variety of leaf colors and textures. Lettuce seeds can be direct sown outdoors or indoors under grow lights 4 weeks before you wish to transplant them. I like to start most of my lettuce seeds inside as planting sturdy seedlings in the garden gives me a big head start on the harvest season and reduces damage from pests like slugs.
Plus if you wish to plant lettuce after a late summer or early autumn harvest of potatoes, starting the seeds indoors allows you to bypass issues with thermal dormancy. This occurs when the temperatures are too hot for the lettuce seeds to germinate and can be an issue with summer plantings. As the plants grow provide plenty of moisture and harvest by picking individual leaves as baby greens or cutting the entire head at the soil surface when it reaches the desirable size.
Swiss chard is a reliable, long-standing, delicious leafy green that you can plant after potatoes. I use the baby leaves fresh in salads and the mature leaves in soups, pastas, and casseroles. Perhaps the best thing about chard is that the plants are incredibly beautiful, with dark green crinkly leaves and brightly colored petioles. I like to grow a rainbow of chard, direct seeding or transplanting after potatoes. Outstanding varieties include Bright Lights, Peppermint, and Rhubarb chard. If planting directly after potatoes in late summer, cover the plants with row cover or a mini hoop tunnel to extend the crop into late autumn.
Scallions, also called green onions and bunching onions, are a cold hardy vegetable that is perfect for planting after a mid to late summer harvest of potatoes. Most varieties go from seed to harvest in 60 to 65 days and if protected with a mini hoop tunnel or cold frame can then be harvested into winter. Direct seed scallions from late July through August spacing the small seeds about 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart. I plant them in bands 4 to 6 inches across spacing the bands a foot apart. Start to harvest about two months after planting by digging and lifting individual plants with a hand trowel. My favorite variety is Evergreen Hardy White, a standard scallion with creamy white shafts and dark green tops.
Another option of what to plant after potatoes is a cover crop like buckwheat, alfalfa, or annual ryegrass. Cover crops offer many benefits to the gardener like improving the structure and fertility of the soil, reducing erosion, and reducing weed growth. If harvesting baby potatoes in mid to late summer, you’ll likely have time to plant a short-season cover crop of buckwheat. This fast-growing plant is ready to be cut down in just 4 to 5 weeks and decomposes quickly on the soil surface. When I harvest potatoes as a main crop in early autumn, I like to follow them with annual ryegrass, another speedy cover crop that has a dense root system and can be left in place over the winter to prevent erosion.
For more information on growing potatoes, be sure to check out these articles:
- When and how to harvest potatoes
- Learn how to grow potatoes in raised beds
- How to plant seed potatoes
- How deep to plant potatoes
- Planting potatoes in containers (video)
I hope I’ve given you lots of ideas about what to plant after potatoes. What do you want to grow?