Our vegetable gardens are constantly changing and evolving, it is one of the things that makes them so exciting.
Summer crops follow spring crops and so on and so forth, but what should follow your potato harvest?
This will depend a lot on what potatoes we are talking about, are they first earlies, early, or main crop potatoes? Each one is ready at a different time of year which will greatly affect what crops can follow.
Here is a quick snippet of general advice, more detailed advice will follow below.
Turnips, Carrots, Kohlrabi and Salad Crops are all good choices that can be planted after most types of potatoes are done.
These are the first potatoes that will be ready to harvest, hence the name, they can often be dug up as early as June.
This gives you a lot of choice when following these up with other crops. This is as long as you mounded your potatoes up with good organic matter, preferably good compost.
This will help balance out the heavy-feeding potatoes and can often leave your potato bed in better health than it started.
In June you really do have a wide range of choices for what to plant after your potatoes, here are some ideas for veg that can be sown in June.
- Runner Beans
- Broad Beans
And many more, this list is not exhaustive. As you can see there are lots of choices still open to you when sowing at this time of year in the UK.
These potatoes are planted a few weeks later than first earlies and harvested a few weeks later, usually around June and July.
The later into July they are harvested the less choice you will have when it comes to what to plant after, but there are still a lot of options open to you.
- Sprouting Broccoli
- Salad Crops
Again this list is far from exhaustive but should give you a good idea of the range of veg you can still sow even in July.
These are your big spuds, the kind of ones you use for chipping or for baked potatoes. Main crop potatoes are in the ground all summer long, which obviously reduces the range of veg that can follow, particularly with our shorter seasons in the UK.
Normally harvested from August into October, the variety of plants that can follow is obviously very different to early potatoes.
A lot of the crops that you will follow with will be overwintered crops for next year rather than anything to harvest this year.
Here are some ideas though of crops you can plant in the UK after main crop potatoes.
- Perpetual Spinach
- Winter Lettuce
- Broad Beans
Container Grown Potatoes
If you have grown your potatoes in containers and not in the ground then your options of what to plant after them will be much more limited.
This is simply because the potatoes will have used up a lot of the nutrients in the soil in your containers.
A good crop to follow them with is lettuces as they don’t need too much feed to develop well.
You could also add a little fresh compost to your container which will open up the options of what to grow next.
If you did the mounding up method where you add compost little by little to your container as the potatoes grow then you should still have good nutrition in the soil when the potatoes are done. This will mean you still have plenty of choices on what to grow next.
Good ideas for containers, as long as you improve the soil, could be carrots, turnips, onions and garlic.
Sowing Early And Growing On
This throws the whole list on its head as you can plant many more crops after your potatoes as long as you plan ahead.
If you sow some seeds in trays and plant them on into pots while your potatoes are still growing then you can extend the range of veg you can grow massively.
You will no longer be relying on late summer-sown crops but can also have late spring/early summer crops ready to replace your potatoes.
This requires more planning and space but it is well worthwhile doing if you really want to maximise the productivity of your veg patch.
Leeks are a great vegetable to do this with, you can sow them as early as March and April and have them ready and waiting to go into the ground when your potatoes come out.
I thought I would dedicate a whole section to salad greens as they are a great crop to plant after potatoes and can be planted all year long.
Rocket and perpetual spinach make great plants to follow on from potatoes and they can be sown at any time through the summer and into autumn. Because of their fast-growing nature, you will still get a good crop of them before winter.
Perpetual spinach will even keep growing through the winter, giving you a source of greens when most other crops have died off.
Then you have lettuces, which again can be sown all summer and autumn long. Lettuces aren’t fussy plants and will grow in poor soils which other heavier feeding veg won’t. So they can make the perfect follow-on crop for tired potato beds.
Tired beds would be caused by not mounding up your spuds with compost, if you have used something else like straw or poor quality soil then your potatoes have probably taken a lot of the nutrition out of the bed.
In this case, it would be a good idea to grow lettuce and then follow this with a cover crop once the lettuce is done. The cover crop can be grown and then cut down in order to feed some nutrition back into your soil.
Now let’s talk about Asian greens, these are much hardier salad crops and are perfect for growing in the late season.
Asain greens include things like Mizuna, Bak Choi, Mustards and some cabbages. These really thrive in a UK autumn when the weather has cooled off and they can keep going well into autumn. I have even had Mizuna grow well all winter long on my allotment in Northern England.
Look at this Mizuna still going strong on my allotment in January when every other bed is completely bare!