Bobby asks about garden spacing and design:
Since 2012, I have tried many different methods and styles of home gardening, primarily in Northern Kentucky and Northeast Georgia. The most productive methods were found to be semi-intensive spacing in raised rows and raised beds. (One major rain storm showed me the benefits of raised rows over conventional flat rows.)Steve Solomon’s idea of semi-intensive or extensive plant spacing makes more sense, especially when resources are scarce.As I am in my 60’s, I really like the idea of tall raised beds, but I cannot get my head around all of the additional ‘resources’ required for the intensive spacing typical of raised bed gardens. These ‘resources’ would include, but are not limited to, intensive watering (irrigation), intensive fertilizer, re-charging the soil, etc. In light of this,
With that said, have you experimented doing semi-intensive or extensive spacing in raised beds?
Since I will be starting a new garden in Eastern Tennessee (zone 7a) in 2023, my thought was to do tall hard-sided raised beds for short growing veggies, raised rows for vertical vine plants (tomatoes, beans, peas, etc.), and soft-sided raised beds for horizontal vine plants (potatoes, sweet potatoes, melons, etc.). Any thoughts?
I agree with you, Bobby – the amount of effort and resources that go into producing vegetables in intensive beds isn’t worth it for me, especially since I have more space available. When you can plant a little farther apart, you use less water and get yields with less work. You may also get larger plants with more yield per plant.
I have switched almost all of my gardening to mounded beds, from my row gardens to my Grocery Row Gardens. If you want a few permanent raised beds for salads, have at it, but I usually grow those in the mounded beds too. In my fast-leaching sand, I like to grow lots of cover crops in between and mulch when I can, but at the very least I have done well with simple single rows 3′ apart, with no irrigation.
Those are tall enough to keep us from flooding out during heavy rain events. However, they do even better when I throw cut hay in between the rows. Just make sure it’s your own hay, and not Grazon-sprayed poisonous hay from a feed store.
As for your vining crops, you may get away with just planting them on smaller circular mounds. That’s how we usually grow our pumpkins. Sweet potatoes usually go into 4′ wide beds.
All the best,