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Can You Plant Onions and Potatoes Together?

Introduction

Can you plant potatoes and onions together? Yes, you can plant onions and potatoes together. Because they are both root vegetables and have similar growing conditions.

Understanding Companion Planting

Definition of Companion Planting

Companion planting can foster symbiosis by placing certain species in a pattern near each other. It can lead to a more efficient garden. This can be less needed for chemical interventions, and healthier crops.

Benefits of Companion Planting

Pest control is a significant advantage. Specific plant combinations can deter insects or, conversely, attract beneficial predators. Certain pairings can enhance flavor or nutrient content.


Companion planting is also smart space management. When compatible species share a bed, you're making optimal use of every inch of your garden. Provide natural shade or use a living mulch to retain soil moisture. This density can further benefit your plants.

Benefits of Growing Onions and Potatoes Together

Space Utilization

Growing potatoes and onions together allows for a more efficient use of garden space. Typically, potatoes are row-planted and spaced at regular intervals. This leaves a good amount of empty space between rows. By interspersing these rows with onions, you are capitalizing on this underutilized space.

Pest Deterrent

Onions have pungent aroma which serves as a deterrent to pests. For example, aphids and potato beetles. This natural way of keeping pests at bay can reduce chemical insecticides.

Soil Enhancement

Onions can enrich the soil. They are efficient nutrient scavengers. Drawing calcium, vitamins, and minerals to improve its overall health. When you plant alongside potatoes, onions impart some of these benefits to their neighbors. Your potato plants will become stronger, more disease-resistant.

Considerations Before Planting

Soil Requirements

Both onions and potatoes desire well-drained soil. But they have a different preference for pH levels. Onions tend to prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0-6.8. Potatoes thrive in a more acidic range of 5.0-6.0.


Consider their needs and aim for a compromise around 6.0. Make sure the soil is rich in organic matter and free of stones.

Sunlight Needs

While onions can tolerate a bit of shade, both crops generally prefer full sunlight. Make sure the spot gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If possible, avoid planting them in the shadow of tall plants.

Companion Compatibility

Planting marigolds near your onion and potato bed can help keep away nematodes and aphids. They can harm the roots of your crops. Basil can repel several pests that might damage potatoes. For example, thrips and mosquitoes. Thyme is an aromatic herb that helps deter pests.

plant onions and potatoes together

Planting Technique

Spacing Guidelines

You should space potatoes about 12 inches apart in rows spaced 2 - 3 feet apart. You can space onions closer, with 4 - 6 inches between plants in rows 12 - 18 inches apart.

Planting Depth

You should plant potatoes about 4 inches deep with the eye facing up. You can typically plant onions 1 inch deep. Make sure the tip of the bulb is just barely under the soil. Planting too deeply can stunt their growth.

Timing is Everything

Can onions and potatoes be planted together? Both potatoes and onions are cool-season crops. In most areas, you can plant them together in early spring. However, the specific timing will depend on your climate and the expected date of the last frost.


Onions prefer cool weather. So you can often plant them a bit earlier than potatoes. You should research your local growing season and plant accordingly.

Caring for Onions and Potatoes

Watering Requirements

When the potato plants are small, water regularly but lightly early in the season. Make sure to keep the soil moist. Onions have shallow roots. They also require consistent moisture.


You should use a soaker hose to deliver uniform water over a large area. You can also water by hand between the rows. Drip irrigation can manage moisture in different zones of your garden.

Mulching

Mulching will help keep the soil cool and moist. This is critical for potato tuber development. Mulch can suppress any competing weeds. You can use straw, shredded leaves, or even grass clippings. Ensure the mulch is free from weed seeds.

Fertilization

Side-dress potatoes with nitrogen-rich fertilizer when you hill them. Continue with high potassium feeds to support tuber development. For example, seaweed or wood ash.


Apply a balanced fertilizer when planting onions. A side-dressing of nitrogen halfway through the season can encourage healthy, top growth. Remember, moderation is key. Too much nitrogen can lead to abundant but fluffy onions.

Harvesting and Storage

Harvesting Onions

Onions are ready to harvest when the tops begin to yellow and fall over. For best storage, gently pull them from the ground. Allowing them to cure for a few days in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place. Cut back the tops. Store in a cool, dark area can help them last all winter. For example, a root cellar.

Harvesting Potatoes

You can harvest potatoes when the tops die back. This is usually in late summer or early fall. But if you're a fan of new potatoes, you can carefully dig around the base of the plant. Harvest a few before the tops die.


Gently brush off the soil. Allow the potatoes to cure in the open air for a few days. Then, store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space. Do not store them in a fridge or with onions. The ethylene emitted by the onions can cause the potatoes to spoil more quickly. Proper storage can keep both of these crops for several months.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Pests and Diseases

Onion flies and white rot can plague your alliums. The infamous Colorado potato beetle and late blight are threats to your potatoes. To counter these, consider planting marigolds alongside your alliums. It is a natural insect repellent.


For white rot, a strict crop rotation plan can be effective. Spraying a diluted neem oil solution can help control the potato beetle. Ensure proper air circulation and avoiding overhead watering will reduce the chance of late blight.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Yellowing leaves can indicate a sulfur or nitrogen deficiency in onions. A lack of potassium in potatoes can result in shriveled tubers. Address these deficiencies by incorporating organic matter into the soil. You can also use a foliar spray of these nutrients.


Ensure your bed gets a fresh start each year. Adding compost, rotating crops, and practicing the previously harvested crops the following season.

Conclusion

Can you grow onions and potatoes together? The onion and the potato, two staples in most kitchens. With the right timing and spacing, you can plant potatoes and onions together in harmony.

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