Gardening Articles

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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