Give ‘wide row’ vegetable gardening a try

Planting a vegetable garden is very rewarding for both the beginner and even the most seasoned gardener.
And a garden full of vegetables isn’t that difficult to create.
While living in Fort Frances, I planted a very large vegetable garden every year. And I found the most efficient and productive way of gardening was by using a combination of raised bed, wide row planting.
I also found this method is less work than traditional row gardening, and that I can plant more crops in less space.
Although space was not a problem for me, it may be for you so you may want to adapt this method of gardening for your own space.
Begin by making a map of where you would like vegetables to be planted for the season. Then make a raised bed 24 inches wide and about six feet long.
To make a raised bed, simply mound the soil from each side of the 24-inch wide area into the middle of your “wide row.” Use a good sharp hoe for this, then take a garden rake (the one with the 12-inch wide head that looks like a comb) and flatten the mounds using the backside of it.
It is important to make your bed flat on top, with gently sloping sides, so it will retain the moisture longer.
Your wide rows can very in width, to one that most suits your garden, but the minimum width should be the width of your garden rake while the maximum width should be no longer than your reach because you will need to harvest the vegetables.
Once your beds are installed, sprinkle the seeds generously across and down the whole wide row. If you run out of seed, make a trough in the row and start with your next crop.
Remember to be generous with your seeds and evenly disperse them across the entire area you are devoting to that vegetable—this is the secret to success.
After the seeds are in place, gently rake up the loose soil at the bottom of the raised bed to cover the seeds with a light layer of soil. Then tamp the soil down gently with the head of the rake and finish with a light watering.
When the crops begin to emerge, you will have a fairly thick blanket of green in your wide rows. Thinning is easily accomplished by gently raking across your row with your garden rake.
Leave the thinned vegetation in the bottom of your access row for added compost.
You may have to thin some crops, like carrots and radishes, a few times before they start to develop their root.
I picked crops like these as soon as they were a size that you can eat by picking randomly throughout the wide row as another method of thinning. The holes left in the soil from the crops you picked make way for water, nutrients, and growing space for the vegetables that are left.
There are other reasons why I prefer this method of vegetable gardening. For instance, vine crops such as peas and beans do not have to be staked because they use each other to climb on (just remember to pick frequently in order to increase your yield).
When wide rows are planted generously with seed, there is very little room for weeds. I found I only had to weed the sloping sides of the beds and not the vegetable areas.
As well, plants stay cleaner as only the plants on the edge seemed to get dirt on them after a heavy rain.
Plants also stay cooler as they provide shade for each other. This is very beneficial for spinach, lettuce, and radishes, all of which prefer cooler temperatures.
Mulching around the vegetables is not necessary, either.
And because these rows create their own shade, they tend to stay moister longer so you have to water less. This is really helpful when we are on watering schedule program in town or you use well water.
Best of all, you get a higher yield with less work. You plant more in a smaller area, you water less, healthy plants resist insects better, and you have saved time with less weeding and watering—with the reward being more yield.
When it comes time to harvest, it is much easier to access the vegetables in a wide row. I used a milk crate to sit on and picked away.
I only had to move the crate a few times to get all of the picking done.
I wish more people would try this method of planting. It also is ideal if you have clay soils because you make the soil looser for an increased depth when making the raised beds, which allows for more root penetration for your crops.
Sandy and well-drained soils also benefit as the raised beds retain moisture longer.
If you still do not believe in this method, try your traditional method in one area and the wide row methods in another area of your garden. At the end of the season, you will see which method works best for you.
Happy growing this season!

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