Spacing

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Colin2016
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Spacing

Postby Colin2016 » Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:17 am

Can anybody explain why spaces between rows are usually bigger than the space between plants.

Example:
"Plant shallot sets 25cm (10in) apart in rows 40cm (16in) apart from mid-November to mid-March."
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Re: Spacing

Postby tigerburnie » Thu Dec 20, 2018 10:00 am

Old style access for hoeing was what I always understood as the reason, however as I now grow in blocks in raised beds, a lot of my onions and some root veg are actually touching and push each other out of the way, not noticed this doing any harm either.
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Re: Spacing

Postby Geoff » Thu Dec 20, 2018 10:34 am

The answer is too long for a post. I’ve several times suggested the two volumes of “Know & Grow Vegetables” by Salter, Bleasdale and Others from the National Vegetable Research Station are a good read. Published in 1979 they are long out of print but may be available from libraries or second hand (ISBN 0-19-857547-5). The first chapter is 32 pages called “Space to Grow”, here are a few snippets:

Most gardening books will tell you precisely the distance apart for, say, rows of onions and precisely how far apart along the row to thin the plants once they have emerged. Few of them seem to agree with each other and even fewer explain why they think their spacing is right. But in general they all tend to be over-generous in the space given to all crops.

That sets the tone for the chapter where they set out scientific results on spacing after discussing why the row system developed.

To find the answer we have to go back to Jethro Tull and Turnip Townsend. Jethro Tull invented the seed-drill and also a hoe pulled by a horse to travel between the rows to kill weeds. He got better yields from the rows but, we now realize, only because he was controlling devastating weed-growth by horse-hoeing.

Late in the 18th century the system was to grow crops in strips 4’ wide separated by narrow paths. The seed was broadcast on these strips and women and children were employed to remove the weeds and to thin the plants to get an even distribution over the strip. The whole strip or bed could be reached from the paths.

The industrial revolution diverted labour to the towns so mechanised row cropping took over.

The common sense and scientific conclusion is that even spacing gives the highest yield per unit area and they offer spacing guidelines for most vegetables.

If the authors or successors in a research establishment still exist perhaps KG could commission an article!
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Re: Spacing

Postby oldherbaceous » Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:04 pm

Very good reply, Geoff.....and of course, all these spacings could be altered, depending on what type of soil and the quality of that soil you have and also what size you want the crop to grow to!
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Diane
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Re: Spacing

Postby Diane » Thu Dec 20, 2018 1:38 pm

My spacing went to pot when it all went over to cms. I just measure by my own thumbs now :roll:
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Re: Spacing

Postby Primrose » Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:32 pm

I'm with Diane on metric va imperial measures and of course much more spacing between rows will depend on how much growing space you have available.

i'm pushed for space which means generous spacing between rows of plants is a luxury I can't afford. I compensate by trying to keep the soil well composted (which only encourages the weeds to grow bigger and faster!) and by growing the taller vegetables at the end of the plot where the sun's shadow doesn't block the sunlight out from the shorter ones.

This of course means paying less concentration to the laws of crop rotation but by and large I still get pretty reasonable crops.

Over the years I've learnt to trust my own judgement. However this winter I've really pushed the boundaries and my garlic cloves are all planted very close together with no spaces between the rows so I'll be interested to see the size and quality of the crop in summer.
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Re: Spacing

Postby Monika » Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:11 pm

It's funny: I grew up with metric measurements, use them for most things like sewing, knitting, other crafts, but for all my garden spacing I use imperial measurements.
In general, I grow vegetables slightly closer than generally suggested because I don't whoppers of anything.
As for the difference of distance between rows and individual plants: is it not because one is likely to walk along rows but not between plants?
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Re: Spacing

Postby sally wright » Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:17 pm

Dear Colin,
I find that for row spacing shallots the following is a good compromise. Starting at the bed edge put a row in 9" from the edge; then put in at least one more row standing on the edge - two if you have a long reach when weeding/hoeing. Then I put in the same number of rows from the soil side at the same spacing and then leave a wider space (of say 18") to walk on. What I am essentially doing is making "beds" but without leaving untilled areas to gather weeds as the "paths" will get weeded as the crop is growing and then cultivated out when the crop is harvested. I find that this way gives me the flexibility in cropping and more plants per square yard than permanent paths would. This method works well with lots of "spaced in the row" crops such as dwarf beans, broad beans etc.
I think that a lot of the spacing information came from the Victorian kitchen gardens and market gardens where growing space was not at as much of a premium as in today's modern gardens. They also had lots of plants to deal with so using quick and easy methods of weeding were favoured.
Regards Sally Wright.
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Re: Spacing

Postby Westi » Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:34 pm

I generally use the width of my hoe (& a bit) as the measure between rows & plants. I do have to do some hand weeding to those weeds up close to the plant but it saves loads of time. On bigger beds I go by my foot size every 3 or 4 rows so can walk along it so the hoe can reach.

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Re: Spacing

Postby Colin2016 » Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:23 am

Thank you all for your input...Thought Jethro Tull was a group from 60/70 (Lol) and never heard of Turnip Townsend (real name?), so thank you for the history lesson.

To me the space left for walking/hoeing etc is wasted growing ground. I send a lot of time/effort in preparing so want to see stuff growing. My thinking is if it's 6 inches between each plant then it should be 6 inches between each row.

Note I planted a 10 x 3 ft raised bed 270 onions using that principle last sept, hope it works.

As I follow the no dig way with raised beds using wooden sides, weeds are not a major issue. I did a test last year with a raised bed with just soil dug over and was swamped with weeds & grass.

I have just completed preparing new area 10m x 4m for next year this is without wooden sides to compare with those have wooden sides.

As I got hooked on square foot gardening this prompted me to ask the original question.

Spuds are another contradiction, leave 12/16 inch's but put 3/4 into a 2ft dia bag.

Thanks again for your thoughts...Have a Very Merry Christmas.
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Re: Spacing

Postby sally wright » Fri Dec 21, 2018 2:57 pm

Dear Colin,
ah yes potatoes..... Here comes another little history lesson which goes part way to explaining your confusion. Old potato varieties (pre the 1960's or thereabouts) have lots more tops and were either harvested by hand (for new potatoes) or as mature spuds in September (when the tops had died) with a rotating device attached to the back of a tractor which knocked them out of the ridge sideways and they were then picked up by hand. When the big potato harvesters were invented the large tops became a nuisance and the potato breeders developed varieties which had smaller tops but still produced the same harvest.

There is also the reason that early/new potatoes are not grown to be a large sized spud and are not grown for as long so you can get away with more spuds in a bag of say Arran pilot than you could of a maincrop such as diseree. There is also the fact that if you are growing spuds in a bag then they are likely to be cosseted as they are the only ones you have rather than the rows in the ground where if you don't get something off the first couple of roots you can keep digging along the row.

If you begrudge the wasted space between the potato rows then there is a solution. After you have planted the potatoes at the specified width between rows you can plant radish/lettuce/spring turnips (those little pink and white ones)/rocket or any other quick leafy green that takes your fancy between the spuds. By the time the spuds have grown up enough to shade out the little crops you should have harvested your early greens. You may have to cloche and /or plant them out as plugs to get a decent crop though.
Regards Sally Wright.
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Colin2016
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Re: Spacing

Postby Colin2016 » Fri Dec 21, 2018 4:08 pm

Hi Sally,

What an interesting explanation. Thank you.

Do wonder if manufactures instructions should be updated, to reflect modern conditions.

Last year I planted 24 spuds (calculator said 8/10) in the 3 x 10 ft bed and covered with straw, very easy to harvest by pulling up and no major slug damage. Only downside was the red ants that took a dislike to me disturbing them.

3/4 spuds in the 30 litre buckets where ok as well.

Like your idea of planting between the spuds, something to consider for the future when I get to grips with current projects.
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Re: Spacing

Postby robo » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:04 pm

Sally, you have brought back memories of my younger days spud picking, following the rotating paddles of the spud machine I swear the driver was touching mach 1 and we had to keep up ,bloody hard work for a young kid nearly as hard as turnip pulling ,we got paid 8 shillings a row we were expected to work 2 rows at once sounded good until we seen the length of the rows, nearly half a mile long
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Re: Spacing

Postby oldherbaceous » Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:45 pm

I must admit I used to really enjoy potatoe picking....some wonderful old characters but, all of them are in the Churchyard now...
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Re: Spacing

Postby Monika » Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:06 pm

I remember the potato picking, especially in the hungry years during and just after the war when the 'professional' pickers had done their job and we 'amateurs' were allowed on to the field to collect any that might have been left behind - for us to keep!
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