Where to Begin When Starting Your Garden? – Sowing Techniques
Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Last week we talked about what type of garden you can do. This week we will talk about different sowing techniques. There are many ways to sow and cultivate vegetables. Not all techniques to sow are advantageous for all vegetables. There are different ways to cultivate to maximize productivity or crop yield. It depends on what you want your garden looks like and which vegetables you choose.
1. Sowing Techniques
In this section, I will talk about different techniques to sow vegetables that can maximize the garden crop yield. In the section Gardening Techniques, there is a subsection Sowing Techniques, where you can find videos and photos on how to do it.
Grow Vegetables In Row
The most popular way to grow vegetables is in a row. This is the traditional way to sow a garden. You make your line and sow in direct lines. The photo beside is a sowing in row technique that I use in my garden. I use this technique for most vegetables such as beans, peas and lettuces. Using the other techniques that we are going to discuss, would not be advantageous our feasible for these vegetables. Vegetables grown in elevation or on mounds could still be sown in a row. After many years of gardening, the best way to sow in a row and have a straight line would be to use 2 sticks with a cord. Stick it in the soil and make sure it’s a straight line. To do the line in the soil I also use a stick (wood shovel handle). I have put a video on my website or you can click here to be redirected.
Grow Vegetables on Mounds (“Hill”)
This way is often used for vines vegetable or vegetable that needs well-drained soil, a soil that is not too much saturated with water. How to sow vegetables in mounds or hills is easy. You need to do a small hill usually about 6 inches by 6 inches x 6 inches. After doing the hill, you sow one to a couple of seeds in that hill. Some example of a vegetable that you can grow in mounds would be cucumber, squashes. They have vines that have multiple flowers which creates the vegetables. They like to grow in length. By growing them in a mound, the cucumber and squashes will go down the hill and continue to creep on the ground. This technique is also used for vegetable that can withstand drier weather and that has long roots like beets, carrots. For potato, what I do is that I plant it in the ground, and the more it grows the more I raised the soil around it. This way it can have more soil to do more potato.
Growing Vegetables Elevated
I use the elevated sowing technique for Peas, Runner beans. It includes growing vegetables in row technique while vegetables also grow elevated. As shown in the picture you can see that this vegetable (peas) likes to grow in the heights. This year I started also to grow my cucumber to see if I will have a better crop yield as I have read a lot that they can produce more. When they grow in elevation there is more air circulating around the plant than if they were on the ground and the flowers cover by all the leaves.
2. Spacing Between Vegetables
Not only do we need to think about which techniques that we just talked about to grow vegetables, but also we need to give them the proper spacing. Traditionally, gardeners were growing vegetables with a lot of spacing between them. Thus, today, if we want to have the maximum crop yield in our garden, we can grow our vegetables with a little bit less spacing between them. Why did our ancestors space a lot the vegetable? This could be because it came from farmers that used big machinery that needed to pass between rows. Also, it could be the space between the wheels of the tractor. But in a backyard garden, we don’t need that kind of space in between. Certainly, there are some vegetables that still require more spacing than others. You can go to the section Sowing Techniques under Gardening Techniques to see how I sow some of the most popular vegetables.
In Same Row
To know better spacing requirements between vegetables it is explained on each pack of vegetables. I will talk generally about spacing and for the most popular vegetables. Lettuces in the same row can be sow very closely together, in fact, it is hard and long if you sow one seed at a time. What I do is I take a bunch of seed and just slowly let them drop a couple at a time while passing my hand over the line. For radishes, peas, beans, beets, spinach, and the same kind of seeds, I try to drop one seed at a time and give some spacing between seeds. For peas, beans, beets, and spinach I give 1 ½ inch to 2 inches, while for radish I might drop 2 seeds each 1 inch just in case 1 does not germinate.
For the carrots, I sow many seeds since they are very little, and hard to sow one seed at a time. After they grow and reach about ½ to 1 inch, I thin them out. When I thin, I try to remove the smaller carrots and keep the biggest. While for the onion bulb this is easier. You can sow one bulb every 2 inches.
Zucchini, cucumber, all the melon varieties, and peppers I will sow about 1 foot ½ to 2 feet. It gives them still plenty of space between them and not wasting space for nothing.
Between Rows Of Vegetables
Not only do we need to know the spacing between each vegetable in the same row, but the spacing between rows. These spacing changes depending on which types of vegetables you grow. It is also written on the package if you want to have an idea of the spacing it could take. I tend to space them differently and I will explain to you why. Often, I look at how big a certain vegetable can grow on average. It is easier when you have a couple of years of experience in gardening. However, if you don’t have or not many experiences, you can look on the internet at the average width of a certain vegetable. As well, vegetables at the grocery store can give you an idea, but you should also check on the internet. The reason why is that vegetables at the groceries could be boosted with chemicals to offer customers bigger vegetables. Also, there are many varieties of each vegetable. Carrots, for example, you can find big large carrots or also long and thin.
I like to sow a row of vegetables like lettuce, radishes, beets, arugula, and onion at about 6 inches apart even if they recommend between 12 to 20 inches apart. I will explain in more detail the reason why in the next section. These vegetables are not very wide and are not affected when they can still grow, and you can harvest them a lot.
While the other vegetable like Zucchini, cucumber, etc. I also sow about 1 ½ foot to 2 feet between them if in multiple rows side-by-side. If you want to be safe and have enough space between vegetables in the same row and between rows, the spacing recommendation is on the seed package.
3. Density of sowing
High-density sowing will increase your garden productivity versus sowing in the traditional way. A garden of 4ft x 6ft if using the traditional method, would have about 4 rows of lettuce or radishes. If you take a look at the seed package, they recommend sowing every 12 inches. By using the high-density method, sowing rows closer one from the other, you will increase the density and have bigger productivity. You will have more vegetables for the same space. The photo at the left shows a high-density garden. This type of sowing is really advantageous when you don't have a lot of space for gardening and you want a lot of vegetables in your backyard.
Lower density sowing will allow you to circulate better in the garden. However, you will harvest less vegetable compared to a garden that has vegetable sowed closer one from another. The disadvantage of not sowing your garden dense, it gives the opportunity for the weeds to take over. I find that when I give more space in between my vegetable, weeds appear. In a garden that has high-density sowing, the vegetable itself will cover the soil, which will prevent weed from showing up since it will block the sun. You can see the comparison between the photo above versus the photo below.
In this series Where to Begin When Starting Your Garden? I have talked about the choice of vegetable, the type of garden and many ways to sow your garden. Next week I will talk about maintenance in a garden. If you have concerns about how to grow certain vegetables or the spacing between vegetables, do not hesitate to comment below. Also, let me know what you think about this article and like it.