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Gardening Articles: Care :: Plant Care Techniques

Plant Greens in Wide Rows

by National Gardening Association Editors

Wide-row planting involves broadcasting seeds in a wide band, thus creating thicker rows with fewer paths in between. Not all vegetables, of course, are meant for wide rows. Squashes, tomatoes, cucumbers and melons are examples of crops that need room to run. But for greens - including head lettuce, collards and kale - wide rows offer many advantages. Most important, you can harvest more than half again as much from wide rows as from single rows using the same space. However, there are other reasons for growing green in wide rows, too:

* Wide rows mean less weeding because after the closely planted greens grow up to shade the ground, they create a "living mulch" or ground cover that blocks out light from weeds, thus checking their growth. Some hand weeding is still necessary, but the living mulch in wide rows take care of most weeding.

* Living mulch shades the soil, keeping it cool and moist, which is very important for crops like lettuce and spinach that get bitter and bolt when the weather warms up. Wide-row growing extends the harvest into summer because the soil in the row stays cooler. The cooler the soil, the better-flavored your crop will taste.

With summer greens like Swiss chard, the moist soil of a wide row helps maintain continuous growth. There's less drying out of the soil, and consequently, less stop-and-go growth.

* Planting is quick and simple. You scatter seed over the wide seedbed with no worry about straight lines or precise spacing.

* Wide rows are proven space-savers. You can do away with long single rows of one variety and plant more varieties of your favorite crops. For example, in a 10-foot-long row, 15 inches wide, you can grow three or four kinds of lettuce.

* Harvesting is fast because you can reach so many more plants from one spot without moving. It sure beats the nonstop stooping and straightening it takes to harvest or weed single rows.

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