Tomatoes and potatoes are both members of the same family, Solanum or nightshade. Because they are brethren so to speak, it seems logical that planting tomatoes and potatoes together would be a perfect marriage. Growing tomatoes with potatoes isn’t quite that simple. Keep reading to find out if you can plant tomatoes with potatoes.
Can You Plant Tomatoes with Potatoes?
It seems logical that you could plant tomato plants next to potatoes since they are in the same family. It is okay to plant tomatoes near potatoes. The operative word here is “near.” Because both tomatoes and potatoes are in the same family, they are also susceptible to some of the same diseases.
These solanaceous crops host fungi that cause Fusarium and Verticillium wilt, which spread throughout the soil. The diseases keep the plants from utilizing water, resulting in leaf wilt and death. If one crop gets either disease, chances are good the other will too, especially if they are in close proximity to each other.
Avoid planting tomatoes in soil that was previously seeded with potatoes, peppers, or eggplant. Don’t plant potatoes where tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants have been. Remove and destroy all infected crop detritus so it can’t reinfect new crops. Look for fungal disease-resistant varieties of both tomatoes and potatoes before considering planting tomatoes and potatoes together.
Again, referring to the “near” in planting tomatoes near potatoes – be sure to give the two crops adequate space between each other. A good ten feet (3 m.) between tomatoes and potatoes is the rule of thumb. Also, practice crop rotation to ensure healthy crops when growing tomato plants next to potatoes. Crop rotation should be a standard practice for all gardeners to prevent cross-contamination and the spread of diseases. Use new organic compost and soil when growing tomatoes with potatoes to reduce the risk of sharing disease.
All that said, it is definitely okay to grow potatoes near tomatoes if you practice the above. Just remember to keep some distance between the two crops. If you plant them too close together, you risk damaging one or the other. For instance, if the spuds are too close to the tomatoes and you try to harvest the tubers, you may damage the tomato roots, which can lead to blossom end rot.
Lastly, both tomatoes and potatoes absorb their nutrients and moisture through the top two feet (61 cm.) of soil, so be sure to keep that layer moist during the growing season. A drip system will keep the plants irrigated while keeping the leaves dry, which in turn will cut down on the incidence of fungal and bacterial infections and make for a harmonious marriage of tomatoes and potatoes in the garden.