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Use of space

Posted: Sun May 15, 2011 8:39 pm
by misty44
I'm not sure I am fully utilising the space I have. Every seed packet or website suggests a minimum space for each vegeatable. I haven't left enough room for my cabbage plants and was wondering if I could plant them in between the broad bean rows.

Does anyone have any guidance on use of space and whether the minium growing space should be adhered to?


Re: Use of space

Posted: Tue May 17, 2011 7:44 pm
by MKG
Hah - only saw this after replying to your later post.

You can cram plants up a LITTLE bit - but not by much. Minimum plant spacing is decided by the extent of the root system (and foliage to a lesser extent). Restrict that and you get smaller plants. So yes - basically, you should adhere to minimum spacings. Timing, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. For instance, you can get a very decent radish crop in-between your potatoes - but only because they grow much more quickly. A radish wouldn't stand a cat in Hell's chance in a potato plot later in the year.

Look up intercropping and catch-cropping on the net - you'll find lots of possibilities.

Having said that, traditional spacings are based upon growing stuff in rows - extra space is allowed to enable you to get in and weed. So also look up square-foot gardening. It's a whole different outlook (and one which fits very well into raised beds, interestingly enough).


Re: Use of space

Posted: Tue May 17, 2011 9:19 pm
by wulf
It depends also how large you want your veg when you harvest it. For example, you can squeeze your carrots closer together if you are intending to eat them very small (or even eat the ones you weed out). It is a balancing act though; if you stunt a plant at a critical stage of its growth it might give up or go straight to trying to set seed rather than producing the crop you want.

If you aren't relying on your harvest as your only means of feeding yourself, you can afford to experiment a bit (eg. don't plant cabbages all the way down your broad bean rows but do a section that way and take notes on how yields are affected compared to more generously spaced plants). Some combinations work because the plants have different needs or root systems that extract nutrients from different parts of the soil.

Of course, don't forget that rotation is also an important principle - if you grow cabbages and broad beans in one spot, it might be best to grow plants from neither family there next year!


Re: Use of space

Posted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:17 am
by kate egg
I learnt the hard way that I need to stick pretty much to what is recommended. I was greedy (well I couldn't bear to pull up healthy plants and thin out) last year and ended up with a mess and not really much harvested. Have been much more disciplined this year :icon_smile:

Re: Use of space

Posted: Wed May 18, 2011 7:40 pm
by misty44
Thanks everybody for your replies

I don't want to risk stunting the vegetables that are already growing well. I'll try to keep the cabbages growing in pots until I harvest the first lot of potatoes. Nothing is growing as quickly as I need it to. Beginner's impatience!

Next year I am going to have a better plan as I think I've grown too many peas, beans, garlic and onions which has reduced the amount of space I have. I'll see what I harvest and if it is enough to see us through the winter and amend accordingly.

Thanks again


Re: Use of space

Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 9:32 am
by kate egg
This is my 4th year of growing veg and each year I learn more. This year I am not doing brassicas, they attracted too many slugs and butterflies. Can you imagine the look on my face when the brocoli I had cut up and washed started to come to the boil and all the little bugs floated to the top of the pan :pukeright: And the cabbages were so ragged they just went as chicken fodder.

Potatoes always seem to do well, onions, peas and runner beans. Also carrots but I have to be ruthless thinning out else they don't get very big. Had little luck with sweetcorn, but am trying again. Also this year have swede and beetroot in.

My father-in-law upcycled his greenhouse to our garden 2 years ago for growing tomatoes, yet I have never had so many as the first year when I grew them outside the back door in pots. This year I have some outside and some in the greenhouse (along with peppers and physalis) and the outdoor ones are growing faster and one even has a flower on it already :cheers: