Do's and Dont's for Proper Spacing in Your Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds have revolutionized gardening for many, offering improved soil quality, easy access, and enhanced control over growing conditions.

However, adhering to strict spacing rules within these beds is crucial to maximize yield, promote healthy growth and prevent potential plant diseases. Here, we'll break down the simple do's and don'ts for spacing in your raised beds!

Do's

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Consult plant tags and seed packets: The information on the back of a seed packet or plant tag is invaluable. They often provide specific guidelines on how much space individual plants require. Save the packaging for future reference and add labels on your garden beds!

Follow general guidelines: While every plant has its unique spacing needs, there are general guidelines that can serve as a starting point. For example, bush beans might need less space than tall crops like pole beans.

Utilize square foot gardening: This method involves dividing the bed into square-foot sections, making it easy to determine the amount of space each plant needs, which is especially useful for smaller plants like salad greens.

Intensive planting: When done correctly, intensive planting can make the most of your garden space by placing plants closer together. However, ensure that plants aren't overcrowded, which can hinder growth.  

Consider plant size: Plants vary in size. While leafy greens might grow closely, taller plants like tomatoes require more room. Always account for the mature size of the plant, and use the packaging as reference.

Plan for succession planting: This involves planting crops in succession so that as one crop finishes, the next one is ready to take its place. This will maximize the use of space throughout the growing season.

Incorporate drip irrigation: Drip irrigation ensures that water reaches the roots efficiently, which is especially crucial when plants are spaced closer together. It prevents moisture-related issues.

Don'ts

Avoid overcrowding: It's tempting to fit as many plants as possible, but overcrowding can lead to competition for resources, including nutrients and sunlight.

Don't neglect walking paths: This is related to how close you plant your garden beds to each other. Ensure you have easy access to all parts of your raised bed. A good rule of thumb is to have a walking path every 3 to 4-feet of bed length.

Avoid planting too deep: Always follow the recommended soil level when planting. Planting too deep can hinder growth, especially for tender young plants.

Don't neglect soil health: Good soil is the foundation of any successful garden. Regularly amend your raised garden bed with organic matter to ensure it remains fertile and well-draining.

Avoid continuous planting of the same crop: This can deplete the soil of specific nutrients and increase the risk of pests and diseases. Rotate crops each year to maintain soil health.

Don't underestimate space for tools and equipment: Factor in the space required for tools, a drip irrigation system, or other equipment when planning your bed.

Don’t forget the aesthetics: While functionality is key, consider the design and layout for aesthetic reasons as well. Materials like corten steel or even recycled plastic bottles can add a unique touch to your garden.

Final thoughts

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As Mel Bartholomew, the pioneer of square foot gardening, once said, "Start small but dream big."  Whether you're working with your very first raised bed or expanding your existing garden space, proper spacing is the cornerstone of success!

By adhering to these do's and don'ts, you'll be well on your way to a bountiful harvest, regardless of the size or layout of your garden.


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