confused about row spacing! help!

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)September 28, 2012

I bought some raised beds, which I plan to use next year for gardening; they're 4' x 4' and 4' x 8'.

I don't grow stuff in the ground in a lg. plot of land. Also the current method of gardening I use (container gardening) doesn't require row spacing, only plant spacing.

I apologize if this sounds like a stupid question but if you have two different veggies growing in two different rows, which row spacing would you use?

Would you use the row spacing for the previous row, or the row spacing for the different veggie being grown in the 2nd row?

Since they're two different veggies, the row spacing will be different with the measurements.

As said the gardening method I use doesn't require row spacing, so I know nothing about it.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You use the row spacing called for for the vegetable being grown in the row. The spacing for other vegetables in other rows isn't relevant.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 9:25PM
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you use the space for the plant. for example if it says you need 6 inches apart then 6 inches apart from other plants/each other in all directions i believe. spacing varies from plant to plant

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:23PM
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With 4' beds, you don't need to consider row spacing because you only need to reach 2' to the center of the beds. Row spacing is not only to provide room for the plants but room for the gardener to walk between the rows to cultivate and harvest. In effect, the beds are one wide row and the area outside them your space between rows.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 10:15AM
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Row spacing depends on the plant. Some plants just need more space for roots, or spread wider above ground. Your seed package will give you a good starting place. You can grow carrots four inches apart because you're giving them plenty of space between rows. If you tried to plant carrots four inches apart in every direction in a raised bed, you'd get a lot of small carrots. All plants compete with each other for sunlight, water and nutrients. I've tried to crowd plants, and it rarely works.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Yeah, Carrots don't need much space. I planted my carrots intensely, and thinned as they got too close together as they grew. For plants like Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, you'll want a lot more room so the plants grow larger. 1.5-2 feet or 18-36 inches is probably ideal for spacing between plants. They'll also need some space from one plant to another in separate rows so they can grow large, and so you don't destroy them as you walk down a row of that plant.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Thank for advice regarding this. Just to clarify when I ask about row spacing I'm talking about the rows between the plants, not the spacing between the veggies in one row.

Somebody told me container gardening doesn't need row spacing. I realize these are raised beds, but I won't be stepping into the beds, and the little bit I do know about
row spacing, I know a ton of it is to provide space so you'll have room to walk.

I'm going to guess that I'd still have to provide row spacing to provide air circulation for the plants.

However since half of the row spacing is so you have room to walk around the plants, could I reduce it by half according to the row spacing on the packets? Or if I did this, would it be overcrowding the plants?

The only reason I ask if I could use reduced row spacing is as I said I won't be stepping into the raised beds, so I don't need the extra space for walking between the plants.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 7:58PM
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You won't be walking between rows, so grow intensively and stagger your plants. You will be amazed what you can get in a 4X8 bed. I do not till nor do I fertilize--feed the soil. Standard spacing is about a place to walk, which you don't need. Good luck & have fun with it.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:16PM
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Standard spacing is not about a place to walk. The spacing given on seed packets is for garden rows, not farming. If they say four inches apart, in rows 12 inches apart, then that's what they think you need.

Plants compete with each other for light, water and nutrients. If you grow them to close together, they WILL rob each other of the necessities of life.

In the spacing example above, you can plant four inches apart because you have a foot on either side for the plants to get nutrients and spread their leaves. If you plant too close together, one plant will start shading out its mates. And they'll all suffer if you don't keep up with watering because they're stealing water from each other.

If your garden gets ten hours of sun all season, and you irrigate, and you have fantastic soil, and you keep up with fertilizing, you can crowd plants more. If you don't, you better give them the space they need, and not try to squeeze blood from a rock.

Take a look at what growers-for-size do - they give each plant extra space, so that there's no competition between plants. No one tries to grow massive onions by planting right on top of one another. That should tell you something in general - spacing matters to proper plant growth.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 9:20PM
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Here's a web site that may answer some questions that you have. Also the library & your county extension office will have a wealth of intensive gardening information. You're lucky that you have some time to plan out your garden so do all the reading you can. DO NOT get so hung up that you're afraid to start -- gardeners learn by trial & error. I would recommend getting a soil test done to see what (if anything) needs to be added to your soil prior to planting time. Good luck! (P.S. I use intensive gardening techniques in a raised 4' x 12' bed)

Here is a link that might be useful: Intensive Gardening

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 8:49AM
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Kaw, A Teacher once told me "The only stupid question, is the one you do NOT ask".
We all have ask this question of someone, sometime.
I agree with DeborahSC link.
Thanks Deborah!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:06PM
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Thank you for all the responses and taking time to post on my thread.

I do have a question about completely omitting row spacing. I know that one reason is to give room to walk between the veggies so you don't squash the plants.
However I also know you give row spacing to plants so there is air circulation and they have room to breathe.

If you give no row spacing between the plants then it stresses them out, you're overcrowding them etc. This encourages a whole host of problems...more prone to insect infestation, diseases, competing more for food, light, water etc.

I just want to reduce the row spacing without wasting space, yet not have no row spacing so I don't stress out the plants.

How much should I reduce row spacing by so I don't waste space but the plants aren't stressed out? (overcrowded etc..)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 8:08PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I just want to reduce the row spacing without wasting space, yet not have no row spacing so I don't stress out the plants.

Then what you want in Sq. Foot Gardening. It is exactly what you describe. It has its own forum here and is the standard practice for small raised beds such as you describe.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sq. Foot Gardening

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 9:42PM
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It sounds like you're assuming that row spacing and plant spacing are always different. But it's not as if the plant cares what direction its root space is in, as long as it has enough. If the packet specifies, say, twelve inches between rows and three inches between plants, then that's thirty-six square inches of space per plant. You can give the same thirty-six square inches by giving the plants six inches betwen plants in all directions.

I realize that that doesn't actually answer the question, because there is no single answer. Plants can tolerate a large range in spacing - they adjust their growth accordingly.

Last year I planted beans about six inches apart in all directions, and they produced lots of beans on modest-sized plants. This year I planted them in rows eighteen inches apart (because that's where the dripper lines were placed), intending the plants to be three or four inches apart in the row. But they had trouble germinating, so I ended up with more like nine inches apart in rows eighteen inches apart. I got lots of beans on really, really big plants.

So, thirty-six square inches per plant last year, over 150 square inches per plant this year. Both years were successful. I decided that I prefer the smaller number of larger plants; it seems easier to hunt down all the beans. So next year I'll go with a large spacing again.

Similarly, last year I planted corn at about ten inches in all directions. This year it was eighteen inches in all directions. This year produced more ears per plant, on of course fewer plants. I found it much easier to hoe the eighteen-inch spaces, so I'll go with the wider spacing again.

So, there is no "right" spacing. As a first guess with plants that specify a wide row spacing, like thirty inches, I'd probably subtract twelve inches from the row spacing for theoretical walking space, multiply the rest by the plant spacing, and use that as a preliminary guess at needed square inches. So when they tell you to plant beans 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 30 inches apart, I'd calculate:

Plant spacing: 4 to 6 inches averages to 5 inches.

Row spacing: 30 inches minus 12 inches is 18 inches

Per plant: 5 X 18 inches is 90 square inches.

The square root of 90 is a little over 9.

So my starting point would be 9 inches between plants. With that as a starting point, I'd feel comfortable playing with spacings between five inches and eighteen inches.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 12:51AM
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There is a lot of misinformation floating around on the best spacing of plants. The short answer is to plant your vegetables close enough to each other so that the leaves just touch when the plant is full grown. This creates a layer of thermal control under the leaves and keeps plants growing continuously. A very good description of this principle can be found at under the "techniques" section.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 1:58PM
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The "leaves touch" advice sounds interesting, but it just opens a new question for most gardeners - what is that leaves touch distance? A new gardener still needs a number to start with.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 3:31AM
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