You may have noticed I don’t usually plant in straight rows.
I prefer a much wilder garden.
I do still group plants together but more in various-sized clusters than straight rows.
Here’s an example:
When it comes to vegetable garden layout, I don’t have a problem with straight rows per se – they can certainly make weeding and harvesting a lot easier.
I’m just not a fan of rows that have big walking paths on either side of them, because that’s a lot of wasted space.
The reason for doing that on a farm is so tractors can drive through the field during the growing season, cultivating the soil and spraying poisons to control weeds and pests.
But most of us don’t use tractors in our gardens, so we don’t need to give up half of our growing space for walking, as is the case here:
The reasons I like to design my vegetable garden layout plans more informally – in curving swaths of plants and polycultures (many different plants mixed together) – are because it:
- Looks more natural
- Can make better use of space
- Confuses pests
- Decreases weeds
But other than the ‘looks more natural’ part, all of the above can be accomplished with straight rows if you keep them tight together and combine several types of plants within those rows.
If you put a walking row every 3-5 feet, you can still reach into the middle of the rows for pull weeds and harvesting vegetables.
If I wanted to maximize the use of space I would use the biointensive method of positioning seeds and seedlings. That involves making your own special hexagon measurement instruments to place everything very precisely, which can be worthwhile if you’re tight on space:
Yet a simpler strategy is the square foot method:
Create a garden bed that’s 4 feet by 4 feet, divide it into 16 square feet, and plant 1 or several plants into each square foot:
The only change I would suggest for the square foot method is to make the bed much longer to decrease unneeded pathways, say 4 feet by 25 feet.
In the end, what’s most important is getting your plants into a healthy soil and making reasonable use of your space, regardless of whether you’re planting wild or in squares or rows, whether you’re measuring everything to the inch or eyeballing it.
Which strategy do you prefer? Or what are you considering for this year? I’d be interested to hear your vegetable garden layout ideas and thoughts down below…