Introduction to Wide Row Gardening
Updated: Oct 3, 2021
I grew up in a gardening family (all though as a child I did not appreciate it or love it – sorry mom). I would say we used pretty traditional single row gardening method. We planted everything out on Memorial Day weekend after a trip to our local greenhouse. The concept of anything different was very foreign (maybe even crazy) to me.
When we moved to our first house we had a small garden and I wanted to fit as much as I could in that small face which is where I was introduced to square foot and wide row gardening. We use a blend of both.
Benefits of wide row gardening:
More produce/flowers in less space
Less weeding over time
Retains moisture by creating shade and protection for the microbiomes in the soil
Easy to maintain and harvest
Intensively planted crops compete with each other often having quick strong growth
How wide should you make your rows?
Bow rake rows: initially we made our rows about the thickness of our bow rake (about 18 inches). Once the soil was worked, we could pull the rake thru and get several little rows to broadcast or space our seeds.
3-foot rows: we use this a lot when we are implementing what is called the 2-1-2 method or bringing in square foot gardening methods.
4-foot rows: this was recommended in several flower groups that I follow but I will say this was TOO wide for me. I do not find the row easy to navigate. We will see how it works come harvest time. This is our first year trying rows so wide.
Wide row gardening is customizable; we use several variations. The methods listed will give you a general idea but we tend to experiment a lot with in our wide rows and combine the methods below.
Different Wide Row Methods
Broadcast seeding is great for those tiny seeds that would drive you crazy trying to individually separate. It is exactly as it sounds. I take a pinch of seeds at a time and sprinkle over the soil. This works great for tiny flower seeds and several vegetable varieties. For example we broadcast seed our spring mix lettuce, carrots, linaria, chamomile, etc. Broadcast seeding sometimes requires thinning down the road; all though, I have forgot many times to thin and have had healthy crops.
2-1-2 Method is used for larger plants and our most commonly used planting method. Sometimes with wider rows we will stagger plant 3-2-3. We use this method for our broccoli, kale, potatoes, bush beans, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. We follow the seed planting guidelines on each package but find that the little bit of a “zig-zag” verses single row allows us to squeeze in a few more plants.
Square foot gardening as a wide row is the other method, we use a lot on the farm. We use three variations of this: 3-inch, 9-inch, and 12-inch grid. We use this for almost all of our flowers, peppers, onions, and garlic.
Examples of "grids" we use at Allison Acres:
12-inch grid: peppers, yarrow, bunny tail grass, sweet annie, zinnias
9-inch grid: snapdragons, zinnias, coneflower, larkspur, herbs, lettuce
3-inch grid: onions, garlic, spinach
Peppers planted in a 12 inch grid
FULL DISCLOSURE: My rows tend to end up a compilation of all the methods. Some look like perfect square foot rows. Some look evenly broadcast. Many end up a mixture with in the wide row. Keep gardening fun, experiment, and let the seeds grow. I try to stick to recommended spacing with in my zig-zagged grids.