Try ‘wide row’ vegetable gardening?

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.
Every year I plant a very large vegetable garden and every year I have used a combination of raised bed, wide row planting. I find this the most efficient and productive way of gardening.
I also find this method is less work than traditional row gardening and I can plant more crops in less space. Although space is not a problem for me, it may be for you so you may want to adapt this method of gardening for your own space.
I begin by making a map of where I would like my vegetables to be planted for the season. Then I make a raised bed 24-inches wide and roughly six feet long.
To make a raised bed, you simply mound the soil from each side of the 24-inch wide area into the middle of your “wide row.” I use a good sharp hoe for this and then I take a garden rake (a garden rake is the rake 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 vary in width 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 the beds are installed, I sprinkle my seeds generously across and down the whole wide row. If I run out of seed, I make a trough in the row and start with my 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, I gently rake up the loose soil at the bottom of the raised bed to cover them with a light layer of soil. I 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 to thin the crop. 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 pick crops like these as soon as they are a size 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.
Here are some of the other reasons I prefer this method of gardening:
1. Vine crops such as peas and beans do not have to be staked because they use each other to climb on. Remember to pick frequently in order to increase your yield.
2. When wide rows are planted generously with seed, there is very little room for weeds. I find I only have to weed the sloping sides of the beds and not the vegetable areas.
3. Plants stay cleaner (only the plants on the edge seem 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. 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.
4. 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—and the reward is more yield.
When it comes time to harvest, it is much easier to access the vegetables in a wide row. I usually use a milk crate to sit on and pick away. I only have 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 and at the end of the season, you’ll see which method works best for you.
Happy growing this season!

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