New to Veggie Gardening

Lenexa, KS(Zone 6a)

Hi all.....looking for a little very basic getting started help on a new veggie garden.

I realize I am a bit late for starting but have recently had a pool installed and have this nice HUGE spot of land that had excess soil from the pool excavation all winter long. I've been wanting to a veggie garden (start small a few items and add to it in coming seasons). So I thought it would good to start now on a "pre-cleared" area in a good sunny spot with excellent drainage. I know I need to soil test and amend, but right now I'm trying to figure out how big of a size of land to leave for the garden.

Down the road in a few years I envision having the following: sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, radishes, a melon or two and a small herb section. Would love to do this as a raised beds with pea gravel/grit between the beds.

My questions are:

1) how much space should be allowed between rows of crops? I know mounded plants like squash, cukes, and melons need a bigger area, but for things like tomatoes, corn, onion, peppers, etc....what's a good amount of room to leave between rows? I'm thinking of needing about 2-feet wide per row and 3-feet between rows and 3-feet diameter for hilled up veggies like squash/cukes. Is this about right? I know potatoes need more room than say onions or radishes too, but is there a general rule of thumb to use or a resource I can use online for spacing between rows for a given crop?

Thx for any and all replies/comments. Really wanna get started this weekend on laying out the area so I can decide how much "other area" I have to work with and get lumber figured for the raised beds.


Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

Hi Brenda,

I'm pretty new to vegetable gardening as well and you'll probably get a lot of answers to this, but one think I've learned on this is that how far apart your rows are depends in a big part on A) How you're going to keep weeds down B) How rich your soil is and C) How much room you need to work on the crops.

A lot of people cultivate between the rows with a rototiller to keep the weeds down. If you do that you basically need like the width of your tiller so probably like 2'. If you're going to hoe/hand weed you don't need that much room. Will you need to take a wheelbarrow down the rows? How wide is the wheelbarrow?

I'm mainly using wide raised beds due to drainage issues with my native soil and I only left about 1-2' between them as the plants are growing I've wished I left more room. Probaby 2-3' would be about right.

I'm allowing 6' between squash and zuchinni, in both directions, but that probably depends on the type you plant.


Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

For tomatoes I plant 2 1/2 feet apart and leave 5 feet tween rows then I cage them with concrete reinforcing wire cages. For green beans, I plant double rows with 2 1/2 feet between. If you make raised beds this all would be different. I like to conserve space with the double rows on many things.

Edited to add: It's really not too late here for the garden. It's just about time. I'm planting beans today and will put out the tomatoes tomorrow. A lot of people wait another week or so. It's warm enough now that about anything can go in.

This message was edited Apr 28, 2007 5:47 PM

Springfield, OH(Zone 6a)

This is a good time for us zone 6ers to plant, I'll be doing mine next week, when I have money for plants! TOMATOES! WOOoHOOO!

Lenexa, KS(Zone 6a)

Thx for the replies guys!

I am looking at raised beds also...priced out lumber today. So I was thinking 4-feet between rows to get the wheelbarrow down the path between the beds.

Vashur not sure what "double rows" means but suspect it's planting 2 rows right next to one another so you can get at the plants for 1-side or the other. If that's the case I believe that's what I'll be doing in my raised beds as I plan to do 5-feet by 12-feet raised beds. What I read said 4x8 foot beds was pretty typical but I have alot of space available.

Still not sure how much of this I can get to this year (still have alot of cleanup and new beds to plant around the pool), but better to start than not and I can always add to it as I go, right?

Vashur do you do potatoes? If so is it too late for me to start those or is there enough "cool" weather for us to get them started now for summer harvest?

Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

I planted early potatoes March 19th but the got caught real bad by the 'great freeze of 07'. I replanted most of those and added more last week. You should still be able to plant some if you can find the sets. Johnson's garden center here still had some but were getting low on stock.

Yes, the double row means planting two rows close. For beans I put up a string line with a trench to plant seed on either side. I plant two rows of potatoes close also but leave more room so I'll have enough soil in between to hill them up. For most things it's like planting in blocks in a raised bed except there are only two lines. I leave at least as much room as the seed package recommends between plants. This is a form of intensive planting so you need to make sure all the soil is nutritious.

I think a five foot wide bed would be too wide to reach across which would cause you to have to step in it. You would most likely be better off only making it 4 feet. You don't want to tromp around on a raised bed and compress your soil. It would be quite difficult to get a tiller up there to work it loose and you'd lose one of the 'less labor' benefits of the raised bed.

This message was edited Apr 29, 2007 8:37 AM

Lenexa, KS(Zone 6a)

Thank you again, Vashur! Very helpful, detailed info. I'm learning....proof that you're never too old. :-)


Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

Hee, hee... I've been growing beans like that for 35 years to give an age idea without being too specific. laughs

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

I just checked out a book called The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith. I thought it was very informative and interesting. If you are planning on one day having a garden like you describe, you may want to read it. Instead of planting rows, he has beds...I think he said 5 foot wide is a good size. He digs the soil deeper so that the roots have more room and raises the beds a little and then has walkways between the beds. He uses newspaper to keep weeds at bay and then puts straw on top(or your pea gravel). He also interplants the veggies, just like a flower bed instead of having rows. I am going to try this method this year. There is also a list of veggies, herbs, and flowers that do well growing together, and others that you should keep away from each other. He also breaks down most herbs and veggies and tells you when to start seed inside, temp for germinating and growing, and recommended varieties...he also talks about crop rotation and what should and shouldn't follow each other in the garden. As I've said, I haven't tried it yet, but I found it interesting enough to give it a try. The book may give you some ideas.

Lenexa, KS(Zone 6a)

kls - thx for the book details! I actually looked for it online over the weekend as it got a great rating in the DG Bookworm. I'll definitely get a copy of it and get to reading.

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)


I made my raised strawberry beds 4x12 feet. I got two16 foot 2x8s at HD for each bed. They will cut them for free. So, I had them cut 4 feet off each one, which left me with two 12 foot boards and two 4 foot boards. Some of my flower beds I did with 12 foot boards, had 4 feet cut off, and had 4x8 beds. The easiest way to cut them economically was the reason I chose the sizes I did. Just a thought.

The premade plastic corners are rather pricey so I used 3" deck screws to put them together.


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