Wide Row Gardening

Just because you have limited space does not mean you need to forego having a vegetable garden. Using a few “smart” techniques like wide row gardening you can use you space wisely and have enough veggies to feed your entire family and maybe the neighbors.

When I was a kid we moved into a house with a very small back yard and virtually no front yard at all however, I remember there being a raised garden area about 4 feet wide all the way around the house. It was held in place by a single layer of untreated landscape timbers around the entire perimeter.

My brother and I decided on a whim to plant some things that summer so after several trips to the local hardware store for seeds, Miracle Gro and a few gardening tools we were ready to start our garden.

As best as I can remember we planted the following items:

  • Beans
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Peppers (several varieties)
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe

I am probably forgetting a few things.. we planted a lot of stuff in a very small space.. and I do mean small.

What most people do not realize is that just a few plants of any item will produce enough to feed an average family.. we had only a couple of tomato plants, a few pepper plants, squash plants, etc.

We went for variety instead of large quantities of single items however, I remember giving vegetables to the neighbors and still having plenty for our family.

We did not know it at the time but we were using wide row gardening techniques to maximize the use of our limited space.

In wide row gardening, you plant vegetable as close as allowed based on the insructions on the seed packet in an array that may be 4 feet wide by 20 or more feel long with no row in between.. you lean across the bed to pull weeds or pick fruit and with the beds no more than 4 feet wide this is easily done.

Because there are no walking paths between each row of plants, wide row gardening allows yields 4 to 6 times greater per square foot than in traditional garden designs.

If you are suffering from limited garden space then perhaps wide row gardening is just the trick for you.. here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your garden:

  • Be sure to plant the garden in and east west position if you have the option to do so.
  • Be sure to keep your taller plants toward the north to limit them from shading the shorter plants from the sun.
  • With any garden, proper soil preparation before planting is the most important thing.
  • Plan your garden well on paper before planting.
  • Do a little research on yields per plant and only plant exactly what you need.
  • If this is your first garden don’t overdo it.. it is better to grow a few plants well than to do a halfway job on way too many plants.
  • If you have time constraints, consider setting up your watering on a timer*. These are fairly inexpensive and worth their weight in gold.

*mechanical timers tend to be less expensive than the electronic ones.. I found a mechanical timer at amazon.com for only $11.99 while the electronic timers run from $25 to $35. You do get what you pay for though.


  1. Gardening Maintenance Birmingham says:

    Some great advise here. I totally agree that with some planning, a small area can be surprisingly productive.

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