This is the first post in a series about common gardening problems that focuses on mistakes that vegetable gardeners make without even recognizing that there is a problem. The series was originally published as part of my minicourse entitled Gardening Blunders.
Gardening Blunder: Planting the Garden in Rows
One blunder that many gardeners make is to arrange their plants in nice, orderly rows that are bordered by empty space or pathways. The common practice of planting in rows has been adopted from commercial agriculture where it’s required in order to allow large pieces of farm machinery to plant, cultivate, and harvest the crops.
The assumption we make is that what’s good for professional growers must also be the best practice for the home gardener. In reality nothing could be further from the truth. The heavy equipment that’s a necessity when farming hundreds of acres isn’t a factor in the backyard garden, and there’s no need to space your plants as if you intended to drive a tractor through them.
Instead you can plant in a fashion that will enhance plant vigor, suppress weed growth, and increase productivity. Simply modifying your plant spacing can effectively double or triple the amount of area available for vegetable growing. This will allow you to plant a smaller garden, or grow more produce in the same amount of space that you currently cultivate.
There’s nothing magical about planting your garden in rows. In the case of the home garden, planting in this manner results in reduced vegetable harvests and forces you to spend more time and labor tending to the garden. Not to mention the wasted water, fertilizer, and soil amendments that are applied to bare ground that isn’t used to grow vegetables.
The Raised Bed Garden Solution
A better option is to use wide row or raised bed growing techniques. Whether you’re growing vegetables, herbs, or even a flower garden, raised beds provide many advantages and in the long run will save you time and effort, and make your gardening easier.
Best of all, raised beds are more attractive in the landscape and capable of producing many more fruits and vegetables per square foot than growing vegetables in the conventional row format.
It may take a little getting used to, but once you try raised beds you’ll be surprised by how well your plants perform. Soil compaction will be a thing of the past and you’ll enjoy easy access to your entire garden regardless of the weather conditions. Each season the depth and texture of your soil will improve allowing for better plant growth.
In the next gardening blunder we’ll take a look at what’s really bugging the garden, and discover the surprising truth about whether insects are responsible for destroying your precious garden plants and vegetable produce.
Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts: