Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Plot Planting (How to Plant a Big Garden in a Small Space)

Garden Design

We don't plant in rows, rather we plant in plots.   Our plots are usually manageable rectangles of 4 ft deep x 8 ft wide.  

We never leave enough space to have comfortable walk paths once the plants get big.  Every year, we underestimate the space we'll need between those plots.  Seems fine while the plants are small but once they reach full size, it's like a jungle in our garden.  I think it works out okay though.  We definitely get the most "bang for our buck" by planting as much as possible in our space.

Plant in Plots - Not in Rows

Plot style planting (I've heard it referred to as "square foot" planting) is a very efficient method of planting.  It conserves water, saves space and reduces weeding if done properly.  

Unfortunately, most seed packets come with instructions for planting in rows.  If you will look at the photo below you will find helpful information, such as "Days to Germination", "Days to Harvest", "Planting Depth", "Spacing: Row/Plant", and "Preserve By".

  This particular seed packet (green beans) instructs you to plant the seeds at a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches.  It also tells you to plant each plant 4 inches apart, and to place the rows 20 inches apart.

If you were to do this, you would have a lot of wasted space.  A 4 ft x 8 ft section would look something like this.......

24 plants per row x 3 rows = 72 plants
 Plot Planting to Save Space

Or, if you plant as we have been, you can space the plants 4 inches apart and space the rows 4 inches apart.  You will be making a grid with your plants.  It will look something like this.

24 plants per row x 12 rows = 288 plants
As you can see, the "Plot" method allows you to plant 4 times as many green bean plants in this example.   Not only does this give you so much more harvest for your land space, there are other benefits as well.  

Water Conservation 

Because the plants are so close together, the folage actually shields the soil from the sun.  This natural umbrella helps reduce the rate of water evaporation.  We've noticed that we can generally reduce the frequency that we water our garden by half. 

Reduced Weeds

The leaves hold moisture into the soil but an added perk is the barrier that prevents the weeds from seeing the light of day.  Early weeding will likely be necessary but done properly, you shouldn't have to weed much as your plants mature, except in the pathways. 

Works With Most Vegetables

This method really works for just about any veggie.  Just pay attention to the spacing required between plants and plant in a grid. (Forget the row distance).  I encourage you to give it a try!  I'd love to see photos and hear how the plot method worked for you!

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  1. I am soooo exited about all this - in a month I will start to plan myself!!! :) I'll try to use your tips, too. Let's see how it works out!

    Raine, from Italy

    1. I can't wait to hear how it goes for you! You won't be disappointed with the plot planting! Keep me posted!

  2. Hi, Poppy... Just stopped by to thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you all enjoy the cheesy grits. After seeing that you love gardening I'll be following your blog. While I'm not able to do much anymore, I sure love watching things grow...

    Thanks again for sayin' 'hey'!


    1. Helen,

      The Cheesy Grits were out of this world! Nothing left afterwards! Thanks for stopping in! I see we're practically neighbors!


  3. Hi Poppy! Thanks for coming by my blog--I love it when someone "new" says hi! :o)

    Your garden plans make me dream of spring.... we are several months away from gardening season on our farm.

    Your blog is lovely--it is nice to meet you!

  4. Ello Poppy. (Would be neat if that is a real name as my own is Cloud. :) )

    It would be nice if they had both row and plot labeling. You are quite correct with rows being so wasteful. They also give you the impression that you can walk in them to no plant detriment which we know is false due to compacted soil.

  5. Hi, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this blog post.
    It was practical. Keep on posting!

  6. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate
    you writing this post plus the rest of the site is very good.

  7. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a really good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a
    lot and don't seem to get nearly anything done.

  8. Hello! I've been reading your website for a while
    now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give
    you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

  9. So if I plant everything 4 inches apart, it won't stunt the growth of the plants? Why do they say to have them so far apart then! Does it matter how big the plants grow? Bc I know an adult tomato plant takes up more than 4 inches on each side... How does that work? Thanks! I have a small space and want to maximize it!


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