Is Wide Garden Spacing Really Wasteful?


| 3/20/2018 10:38:00 AM


david the good wheel hoe 

Tiny yards, tiny houses, tiny garden beds. Over the last few decades, “tiny” has gotten big.

This is especially true in gardening. Even when I was growing up and learning how to garden, I learned that wide garden spacing was the “old way” to do things and was an artifact of commercial farming and tractor usage. See, if you had tighter spacing, a tractor couldn’t get through the field. Wide spacing in your garden is just a waste of space – after all, didn’t John Jeavons and Mel Bartholomew prove that you could grow tons of food in really tiny spaces?

Great-Grandpa’s methods went out with gas lights and top hats, don’t you know? But, maybe there’s more to know that we think. Today we’ll reconsider the current “common wisdom” on intensive gardening. Despite the mighty army of tiny raised-bed aficionados, mthere are good reasons to adopt wider spacing andlarger garden plots.

Gardens with Wide Spacing Require Less Water

Some years ago I was getting ready to plant corn in a sandy, unirrigated field near Ocala, carefully marking out lines at 18” apart. As I did so, the neighbor stopped by to see what I was doing. He was an old farmer with a cowboy hat and a collection of aged tractors.



“What are you plantin’?” he asked.

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Agraham5teach
3/30/2018 8:49:50 AM

I'm glad to hear that old ways are being reconsidered. I plant my garden at spacing that my grandfather set by his hoe. When he got married and started a family one of the first things he did was to measure off row spacing from his father's hoe and place two carved notches in the handle. One notch for the "regular garden" and the furthest one for the "potato patch". Since his death I have been using that same hoe every year to lay off my rows. The metal head lays at the previous row and the notch marks where to place my rod and string by which to dig my trench or series of holes. The same measurements worked for him for 70 years, and worked for his father before him, and still work great for me. It's at least a hundred year tradition of growing our own food for our families.


Palomino Girl
3/30/2018 8:01:58 AM

I grew up gardening with 36" rows that the rototiller could get through. I still do it that way and have wonderful crops. The rototiller must not kill earthworms, because anywhere you go, there are handfuls of them. I only use old, black horse manure from my own horses as fertilizer, but sometimes play around with some cover crops like buckwheat. I shake my head at these folks who need to go buy lumber and build a box and fill it with dirt. Carpentry is for other projects, not gardening. Although I do have spots in my garden that I move around from year to year and build a cold-frame with some cinderblocks and sections of plastic from my old greenhouse that blew down in a windstorm. Gardening with 3', (I space tomatoes 4'), rows worked for my parents, my grandparents, and it works for me. Rototillers are terrific. My garden is very large, and I'm not going out there with a broadfork! Good grief, I'd never get done.






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