Plant Spacing: The Key to Water-Wise Gardening

Reduced plant density is the essence of dry gardening. The
recommended spacings in this section are those I have found workable
at Elkton, Oregon. My dry garden is generally laid out in single
rows, the row centers 4 feet apart. Some larger crops, like
potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and cucurbits (squash, cucumbers, and
melons) are allocated more elbow room. Those few requiring intensive
irrigation are grown on a raised bed, tightly spaced. I cannot
prescribe what would be the perfect, most efficient spacing for your
garden. Are your temperatures lower than mine and evaporation less?
Or is your weather hotter? Does your soil hold more, than less than,
or just as much available moisture as mine? Is it as deep and open
and moisture retentive?
To help you compare your site with mine, I give you the following
data. My homestead is only 25 miles inland and is always several
degrees cooler in summer than the Willamette Valley. Washingtonians
and British Columbians have cooler days and a greater likelihood of
significant summertime rain and so may plant a little closer
together. Inland gardeners farther south or in the Willamette Valley
may want to spread their plants out a little farther.
Living on 16 acres, I have virtually unlimited space to garden in.
The focus of my recent research has been to eliminate irrigation as
much as possible while maintaining food quality. Those with thinner
soil who are going to depend more on fertigation may plant closer,
how close depending on the amount of water available. More
irrigation will also give higher per-square-foot yields.
_Whatever your combination of conditions, your results can only be
determined by trial._ I'd suggest you become water-wise by testing a
range of spacings.

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