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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thanks for the Help: Air, Circulation and Spacing for Vegetable Gardens

I want to thank everyone that came by. I still have a lot left. I am going to over-plant the gardens I decided. Both flowers and vegetables. My strategy is going to be air and circulation.  Live and learn, I suppose. I just don't like tossing plants. And that's after giving away stuff.

Did you every wonder what the planting instructions mean? 4 inch plant spacing and rows 12 inches apart for example. I don't know exactly what it means but I do know it is suppose to do with optimal growth for the plant.

That is all fine and good but a lot of other things go into optimal plant growth such as your regions temperature and probably more importantly humidity.  The quality of your garden soil makes a difference but how well you amend the actual planting hole of the plant may add to your plant spacing decisions. Fertilizing is a key too. I just saw the guy that grows mega vegetables in Alaska. No its not the endless sun, he says, but compost tea. He brews it.

Experimenting in our zone is the key to understanding how closely you can grow plants. Disease and pest control really become the main issues. If the garden is left untended, well it only takes a day for an infestation to occur. In a few days, your plants will have been used for the snail and insect population's breakfast, lunch and dinners. Disease or the spreading of disease is the other issue with gardens and more so sometimes for tightly planted gardens. If you live in an area that is windy, well the wind helps with the drying of leaves. In Maryland, we have the humidity. Might as well spell that as blight and mildew conditions.

In short, air circulation is one to plant spacing. If you space your tomatoes closely together make sure you have a good row space distance, before the next row of plants for wind to whip through and the sun to dry and shine on the garden.  There has to be enough space for wind and air to flow through to both dry your plants and blow away micro humidity climates that may form.  Each tomato plant doesn't necessarily need 3 feet around each side. You might do a row of plants 18 inches to 24 inches and include 4 plants. The next row should be at least 36 inches from the first row.  These aren't exact numbers. Experiment.

Pruning and thinning the plants (that need it) is important. Tomatoes have the biggest need. Removing weeds and clearing vegetable leaves from the base of the plant allow air to flow under them. The more circulation of air the dryer your beds. That bodes well for lower disease and pest risk.  The sun is the best antiseptic.  Let the sun shine in.

And finally, spacing let the birds in. The birds love slugs and leaf eating pests. The birds need to be able to see the pests and flutter around.  They just need a row to walk down, bird size of course. Turn the pests into a buffet for them.