When it comes to space, I’m wondering if the recommended spacing between rows of crops is enough. Twelve to eighteen inches, that’s usually the recommended distance; however, I am finding that rows 12 inches apart just isn’t enough. There’s not enough room to walk through; when weeding the plants bugs (flying and crawling) are literally right in my face space; and I have to really look for a spot to put my feet down to harvest crops.
Some plants have large leaves that spread out at their base (cabbage), while others grow tall leaving their foliage directly in your face when you bend down (vivian leaf lettuce). Broccoli is both tall and wide a stem than coils where it meets the soil and leans as it grows. This coiling and leaning means that the 12 inches apart we spaced them was not enough. The broccoli was overshadowing the carrots and shading the cucumbers. Even though neither the cucumbers nor carrots seemed disturbed by the encroaching broccoli, it did make weeding difficult for us.
With plants that creep and vine along the ground (cucumbers, squash, etc.), the extra space is definitely appreciated. Our cucumbers are all over the place. They have begun to make their way up the cage that houses our tomatoes, and they twist their “fingers” though and around the holes pests have nibbled in our collard and brussel sprout leaves. Perhaps if there were more space between the plants the cucumbers would just lay in the rows and not latch onto neighbors.
Sure, the 12 inches were good when the plants were fairly small and establishing themselves, but as they mature and stretch toward the sun attempting to fulfill a plentiful harvest, room is scarce and the war is on. Don’t be afraid to do what feels best to you.
Tips on spacing:
- Plant rows 2 feet apart, with each row being 1 foot wide. This will give you space to walk, weed, and whatever else. Having rows that are 1 foot wide will be advantageous to crops that can be planted close together (carrots, bush beans, etc.).
- Plant crops a foot and a half apart or according to the expected size of the crop at maturity.
- Use stakes or sticks to demarcate where your rows will be. Planting in a straight line is a lot harder than it looks. Many of our rows are beyond crooked, having a string or some sort of guide stake certainly would have helped.
- Have more than one garden bed if possible. This will probably mean smaller plot sizes, different shade/sun patterns, different soil compositions, etc.