Sunday, May 16, 2010

Raised Row Gardening - Update

I want to thank everyone for the comments and email concerning the garden.  It seems to be a good topic for discussion.  I wanted to post a bit of an update and more information about the way we are gardening.  The raised rows that we are using average about 12-14 inches wide.  They are approximately 8-10 inches higher than the walk path between them.  The path between is about 12 inches wide to give us plenty of space to walk through with a wheel barrow.  We are covering the walk paths and sides of the raised rows clear up to the plants with 2-3 inches of mulch.
I have 2 rows of tomato plants.  One is a medium sized tomato variety called Marglobe.  It is said to be a good choice for canning and is very popular in our area.  The second row is the Roma variety of tomato.  We love these as a good all-purpose tomato in that it is not really juicy when dicing it for a salad.  They make a good choice for making sauces, ketchup, or bbq sauce for canning also.  We have 11 Roma and 13 Marglobe plants.  The 12th Roma plant is Abbie's and is planted in a container until we find a place to have her little garden.  We were blessed to find in one of our 6-plant pony packs of Marglobe, there were 2 tomato plants in one of the little sections.  This extra one gave us the odd number of 13 plants.  I planted the tomato plants about 12 inches apart in a single line down each raised row.  The spacing will provide each plant with plenty of light and room to grow.  Soon, I will be raiding the supply of tree trimmings from previous storms to gather sticks of sufficient size to stake up the tomato plants.
My row of radish and carrots were planted in a "scattering" method.  Not very uniform in spacing, but with the tiny seeds this method works well for me.  The plants start growing fairly close together in some areas and will need to be thinned out.  With the radishes, I am able to thin the plants, clean them and use them in a salad just as you would a full sized one.  They are flavorful, just have not formed the bulb.  Carrots are a bit slower growing.  I only thin if truly needed in the beginning.  When doing this, I very carefully pull the tiny plants and using a pencil or stick to make a hole, I transplant the carrot in another spot where there is room for it to grow.  This helps me to not waste a good plant.  Later on, as the carrots become larger, I thin them out when the carrots reach the "baby carrot" size and are tender.  These are a great addition to salads.  Abbie loves to dip baby carrots in peanut butter as a afternoon snack.  The main point is that I do not believe in tossing away any of the plants that I thin out.  I try to find ways to use them or transplant them back into the garden.
The rows of bush type beans and peas are planted about 3-4 rows across the raised row.  I space the seeds about 2 inches apart, unless I am being helped by my 4 year old daughter who believes that seeds need to be closer to their neighbors!  LOL   The rows of plants are close enough together (about 3 inches apart) that they provide good shade and support to each other.  I know that this is planting much closer than recommended, but I have always had great results with it.  The harvest yields from planting this close together has never been stunted by spacing the plants this close.
Root crops such as beets are planted with the seeds spaced just far enough apart to allow each plant to grow to it's full size.  If you like your beets to be harvested when they are 2 inches diameter, plant them about 5 inches from each other.  This allows about 1 inch of space in between them once full grown.  I often will plant the seeds 2 inches apart.  When the beets are about 1" diameter, you pick every other beet.  These can be pickled and canned whole.  The remaining beets, I like to pick when they are about 2 inches diameter for canning sliced beets.  By then the beets are getting very crowded looking, but still doing well.  Typically, you can replant beets again as soon as the larger ones are harvested.  This will give you two full harvests of beets in one growing season.
I refer to things like squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, and gourds as "mound plants."  This is due to the fact that I plant them in rows containing raised mounds or hills in which the seeds are planted.  I make the hills about 10" diameter and plant 3-5 seeds per hill, depending on the size of the full grown plant.  Large plants such as zucchini contain 3 seeds per hill, while smaller plants such as cucumbers will have up to 5 seeds.  I have found that I am able to grow this way with great results each time.  Harvest yields are very good and few weeds are able to grow around the plants.  With the addition of mulch, there is literally no weeding to be done.  Plants that require a great amount of space, such as pumpkins, are planted with no more than 3 seeds per hill and the hills are spaced up to 4 feet apart to allow plenty of room for the vines.  If you keep a close watch on the vining plants, you can train the vines to go where you want them.  Just gently lift and move them to where you want them to go.
Hope this helps.
May the Lord's blessings be with thee,
FREE Animations for your email - by IncrediMail! Click Here!


Vickie said...

Thanks for all of the great advice. This is my first year having a garden so I've been experimenting with a lot of things and it helps to hear about what an experienced gardener is doing.

I've planted some beans already but I spaced them out a good bit. I think when I plant my next round I am going to place them closer to each other like you suggest.

I really like your suggestions on planting beets as well. They are becoming one of my favorite vegetables so next time I will follow your advice to maximize my yeild.

Radishes are another thing that I have already planted this year and I have to say that I am amazed at how well they are growing. They are the most reliable and fast growing thing in my garden so far. Do you find that as well with your radishes?

Again, I love hearing what you do with your garden. It is very helpful. If you'd like to see a few pictures of my garden as it progresses you can check out my blog at

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have a lot going! Hoping my garden does as well. :)
(And hello from a fellow modern by necessity/old fashioned by choice housewife).