Hi group. NJ zone 6 here. For the past several years I have gotten greedy
and end up planting my plants way too close together. The peppers in
particular don't like this, end up tall with small peppers if any. The
tomato patch was so crowded they could not get picked and spoiled.
This year I have vowed to reform. Now, how crowded is safe? I don't have a
lot to work with. I have two 10 by 12 plots seperated by a 3 ft wooden
I plan to dedicate one entire side to tomatoes. How many and what
configuration would you suggest? Any ideas for the peppers on the other
plot plus other stuff like squash, peas, greens?
Thanks for your ideas.
Part of your problem is the size of the plots. Thay are too large in
order to reach the middles without tramping in the plot. First, think
about laying a path, bisecting each in half, thus reducing each to
Part of the equation involves the condition of your soil. Soil that is
is high in humus, worms, compost use, mulch, etc. can support a higher
number of plants.
Another factor is the type of tomato and peppers. What kind of squash?
You talkin' zukes, which are a kinda bush type or a vining type of
squash, such as butternut, acorn, hubbard? Heirlooms or hybrid 'maters.
I'm not tryin' to be difficult here, but you, like I, am working with
limited space and this requires a different approach to gardening, an
approach that works both in small areas and is easily applied to large
I would suggest John Jeavon's "How to Grow More Vegetables Than You
Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine" as an
excellant primer on growing in limited spaces. This book has
everything you need to do what you want to do. In conjunction, of
course, with the most excellant information you will receive in this
Here is an intro and there is plenty of info available online about his
work. Seriously, this book is more than worth the price and contains
more info than I can possibly give you in this forum.
You Can Do It ;-)
Not a practitioner of the SFG method, just a gardener.
Location, location, location: taller crops need to get planted where
they will not shade out the other plants - unless of course you can
actually USE the shade, for say, greens during the heat of the season.
As already mentioned, and you noticed, access to the plant is
important. I have 3 tomato plants (OP) planted right smack-dab next
to each other - maybe 16inches?, but I can get to all sides of all 3.
Peppers are on the south side where, today, they are protected from a
ridiculous high wind by the wrapped tomoato cages. I have four
peppers, about 12" apart. If they seem to be too close later I may
pull every other one or try to TP.
Greens can get tucked in anywhere, so if you are pressed for space,
it's a bit silly to reserve a row just for lettuce. Put between
longer crops like cabbage or broccoli. Wide-row or SFG makes sense,
it's how Nature does gardening in the big 'ol world.
I like the idea breaking up the space a bit. 4ft is about the widest
you can reach across, so at a minimum, one additional walkway would be
good. It doesn't have to be any wider than a footpath - just enough
to stand in/walk on. Two paths would be ok - 3ft beds. The space you
are giving up to footpaths is not "lost" because it's an investment in
the health and care of your remaining crops.
Some varieties may not like being crowded more so than others, so
maybe your spacing was OK for other varieties - but it sounds like
maybe you need to increase by 25-35% esp. peppers. Last year I had
planted mine (baby bell, banana, jalepeno) about 16 inches apart, and
the plants themselves weren't giants but I got a decent crop of
Do some more research into wide rows and SFG, and good luck to you!
Follow recommended spacing for peppers but remember, pepper plants like
to hold hands (leaves of mature plants should just touch). This will
also block sunlight to the ground, discouraging weeds. Investigate
companion planting and you don't need to grow in rows, beds are more
effective for preventing weeds.
I'll second Charlie's recommendation of John Jeavon's "How to Grow More
Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can
If you don't want to make new paths in your garden right away (4' wide
plots mean that you only have to reach 2' to weed or harvest), you might
use 2'X 2' stepping stones, to avoid compacting the gardens soil.
At recommended spacing for caged tomatoes, you could potentially grow
30 tomato plants. Do you need that many? Are you canning? A couple of
cherry tomato plants would keep you in salad and a half dozen others for
Save some space to try something different.
Every year, my garden is looking more hodge-podgey, stuff growing kinda
wherever I can stick something in. I'd still like to have the space
somewhere to try Bill's broadcast method. That sounds way easy.
The *only* problem I have with the biointensive method, as espoused by
Jeavons and others, is the double diggy thingie. That is just too
damned much work. I think doing the lasagna thing and loosening the
soil in reverse, by building *up* is much easier, though it will take a
bit longer. Len, in Oz, has a great idea for doing this. Check this
out, if you haven't.
Even in lasagna gardening, I think the idea is to dig the first year to
jump start the organic soil and after than you just stack mulch and
other PLANT FOOD (PO4, NH4, K, compost tea, ect.) on, rotate the crops,
and try to grow cover crops, and let Ma Nature take her head.
On Sun, 11 May 2008 23:51:49 -0700, Persephone wrote:
Whilst we are waiting for Billy to lumber in, I'll tell ya' how I have
done it. Poor old Billy is either back in harness, or about to be
saddled up and ridden hard, I fear. ;-)
Two or three landscape timbers, depending upon the thickness and
strength and length of your walk boards, laid parallel and leveled.
Simply deck screw your walk planks across them. Back before I knew
better, I used treated lumber. I've also used rough cut 5/4 cypress,
thus the three runners for support. Depending upon availabilty,
redwood should work also. Kinda like a narrow deck laying flush with
the ground. I dig in the runners so that the walkway is near to the
Isn't new treated lumber done differently now? I'm not using it any
longer so I haven't kept up.
I suppose one could also use the newfangled plastic decking for your
HTH and that I was clear
I use stepping stones. My growing areas are pretty accessible but in the
couple of situations when I've had to enter the garden plots I use what
ever scrap wood that I have. Fortunately, because of on going work on my
garage, I have some 1"X 12"X 4' siding available. The main thing is to
spread the weight over a large area to reduce compaction, rather than
just the smaller area of your shoe. Like Charlie said, avoid treated
lumber, past and present, and that plasticized deck wood looks
particularly inviting. Thing I like about the stepping stones is that I
grow clover between them to fertilize the plots. I'm on a terraced
hillside so my plots are half raised;-o)
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