What to Plant After Potatoes (Australian Guide)

Potatoes are root crops so should be followed with a crop that will help replenish the soil with valuable nitrogen.

Did you know that crop rotation has been practised by gardeners for thousands of years?

The principle behind crop rotation is based on maintaining soil health, minimising the incidence of pests and diseases and ensuring adequate nutrition for the crops that are grown.

Basically, crop rotation ensures that you don’t plant the same type of vegetables in the same location or garden bed time after time.

Crop rotation works on a four-part cycle where you plant a different type of crop four times and then rotate back again.

Basic principles of crop rotation using the types of crops

To understand this principle, here’s a general guide on how to manage crop rotation using the four-part cycle based on the types of crops that you’re growing and their nutrient requirements.

Step 1 – Start with legumes

The first step in a four-part rotation is to start with legume crops such as peas and beans. These vegetables have the ability to draw nitrogen from the air and then release it into the soil.

Step 2 – Grow leafy crops

As the soil is now rich in nitrogen, it’s time to plant leafy crops such as lettuce, spinach, and silverbeet.

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Brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts also fall into this category.

All of these plants need high levels of nitrogen to produce plenty of leafy growth. 

Step 3 – Plant fruiting crops

After your leafy crops have finished, it’s time to plant fruiting crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, pumpkin and capsicum.

These crops all need some nitrogen for growth but they need an ample amount of potassium to produce their flowers and fruits.

Step 4 – Root crops are last

Finally, you want to plant root crops as these will use more phosphorus to produce their roots underground. These include carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, radishes, parsnips and turnips.

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It’s important to note that this is just one way or method to look at crop rotation and it’s the one I was taught when studying horticulture. 

Essentially, it relies on crops being classified into four distinct groups. There are other methods that you might come across that group crops into families rather than the type of crops that they are and these might differ from what I’ve explained above.

Did you know?

One problem with growing potatoes in the ground is that they tend to spread, and if they are infected with a disease, your soil can be ruined for several years.

This is one of the many reasons potato grow bags are becoming increasingly popular among Australian gardeners.

These bags are also ideal for small spaces like balconies and compact gardens thanks to their convenience and effectiveness.

They allow for better control of soil and moisture, essential for potato growth. Harvesting becomes effortless, and this method also simplifies the ‘earthing up’ process.

For those interested in trying this method, we highly recommend these particular potato grow bags. They are made from durable foodsafe fabric and are designed to maximize your potato yield.


What to plant after potatoes

As you can see from the crop rotation steps above, potatoes are root crops so these should be followed with legumes to help replenish the soil with valuable nitrogen.

So, after harvesting your potatoes, you want to plant legumes such as peas and beans.

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However, you don’t want to rely on crop rotation alone to maintain the nutrients in the soil. As potatoes are quite heavy feeders, I would add a decent amount of compost or aged manure to the soil before adding a crop of legumes.

This will completely replenish the soil with nutrients and your peas and beans will get off to a really good start. 

You’ll also find that the potatoes will have aerated the soil so that it is now nice and easy to work. But, don’t overwork the soil too much as you’ll diminish the nice structure that has been created with the rotation method.

Generally, I would just dump a load of compost over the entire garden bed and then gently rake it in a little. This won’t destroy all the microbes and other organisms that contribute to healthy soil.

At this point, the soil will be friable and you can plant your legume seeds easily. Legumes such as peas and beans are best grown from seeds as they don’t always transplant well when planting seedlings.


What vegetables don’t need crop rotation?

If you’re growing perennial vegetables like asparagus and artichokes, these don’t need to be rotated as they’ll continue to grow in the original spot you planted them. The same goes for herbs such as rosemary, oregano and mint.

What is the best crop for before potatoes?

Ideally, you want to plant fruiting crops like cucumbers, zucchinis and corn, before your potatoes. However, it’s best to avoid growing other members of the Solanaceae family in the same bed before your potatoes. This includes tomatoes, eggplants and capsicum.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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