Straight, single-crop rows with paths in between make laying out the garden a simple, straightforward matter. It’s a very practical system if you use a tiller or tractor to prepare the soil. However, it isn’t the most space-efficient system, since you’ll end up with as much ground devoted to pathways as to crops. Instead, consider creating either wide rows or beds to use space more efficiently. Wide Rows: Crops grown in wide rows are arranged with two, three, or more rows of crops planted close together without pathways in between. Fairly wide paths run between each set of closely spaced rows to provide access for weeding and harvesting. The number of plants in a single wide row varies according to how far the gardener can reach. For example, it’s easy to reach across several rows of lettuce to harvest, but larger plants like cabbage are probably best planted two abreast so that you don’t need to reach too far into the row. Beds: These are similar to wide rows, but the plants are arranged in bands rather than rows. Creating planting beds is the most space-efficient way to organize a garden, since only about one-third of the space is devoted to pathways and two-thirds to crops. Beds make it easier to concentrate soil-improvement, feeding, and watering in areas where plants will be growing, instead of on pathways. Beds can be raised, with the soil surface several inches above the surrounding area, or created so their surface is level with the surrounding soil surface or even below it. Reprinted from The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book Copyright 2008 by Barbara W. Ellis, with permission from Storey Publishing. Photo credit: Lisa Batty of allotmentgirls.co.uk
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