Monday, April 07, 2008

Correct sizes for growboxes

In many of the books the Grow-Box width is very different. What is the
latest recommendation on the ideal size of Grow-Box width? 1 foot? 18
inches? 4 feet?


Mite & Group:

Thanks for the question. The need for the question illustrates the
fact that Dr. Jacob Mittleider experimented with the different aspects
of his growing procedures throughout the many years of his worldwide
humanitarian work. He tested and measured the results of everything
he did, to determine the very best way to do things.

In 1975, when his second book More Food From Your Garden came out,
Jacob was advocating Grow-Boxes of 5' width, often with plants growing
in rows across the width of the box. He taught and demonstrated
growing in that size box for a number of years - always with great
success. And even today there are thousands of growers - even
commercial growers - who swear by their 5'boxes.

He also sometimes grew in boxes that were only 1' wide during those
years. And some of the boxes shown in the book Let's Grow Tomatoes
are 1' wide.

Over the years, however, after much experimenting with different
sizes, Jacob settled on a height of 8" and widths of 18" and 4' as
being ideal for growing vegetables, and those are the sizes we teach,
demonstrate, and advocate today.

Eighteen inch-wide boxes or beds are excellent for growing one (large
and climbing plants) or two rows of any vegetable crops, and usually
work best in the family garden situation. Four foot-wide boxes or
beds allow for even more concentrated growing of crops for serious
growers. However, when using 4'-wide boxes or beds more careful plant
spacing and pruning are necessary to assure plants have adequate light
throughout the growing season.

Large crops should only be planted in two rows lengthwise of the box
or bed and on the outside edges. And smaller crops can be planted in
four rows one foot apart, starting at the outside edges. This gives
only a 2'-wide "aisle" in the center, rather than the 3 1/2'-wide
aisle we normally recommend.

It's that narrow center aisle that saves a foot and a half of space,
but it's also what makes proper spacing and more diligent and careful
pruning so important.

I recommend you use narrow boxes or beds when starting out, and then
perhaps work with some of 4' width as you gain experience in caring
for a high-yield intensive garden.

I will try to download some pictures of the Model garden we created
and grew in Popayan, Colombia in the next day or two, to show you some
4'-wide "double beds" in action.

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