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Neat and Tidy

November 15th, 2012

I’m a big fan of the traditional rowed vegetable garden, perhaps it’s my inner tendency to OCD rearing it’s head. Usually, I try not to be too crazy about spacing, though I do like to use my square foot gardening templates to keep things neat. When you’re doing long rows of vegetables it can be tough to keep those rows straight.

Earlier this fall, I purchased a seed bed preparation rake from Johnny’s Seeds along with the little pieces of tubing for row marking. I must say, I LOVE THIS TOOL. It’s super wide, thus allowing me to prepare a large area very quickly. I also love the little plastic tubes, they can be put on different tines depending on the spacing you want.

This tool makes seeding an entire bed while keeping the lines straight go very quickly. I’m really looking forward to using this in the spring for nice rows of beets, carrots, and lettuce! Although my grandpa always did say, “You can fit more in a crooked row.”

When it comes to the vegetable garden, do you like neat straight rows or do you like things a little more natural?

19 Comments to “Neat and Tidy”
  1. erica thompson on November 15, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Having neat straight rows makes it easier to identify the weeds and to hoe.
    I am just starting out growing veg, and have found that it is quite difficult to get a perfect straight line, and it is more important to get the seeds in the ground than to be anal about military straight rows.
    Using a cane at each end with a line of string between helps to not go too far askew, and that is good enough for me.
    If I find that I have planted too close together along the rows then I will pull the veg a bit early and have some nice baby veg on my plate.
    Love the square foot board with the holes in though, great idea.

    Reply to erica thompson's comment

  2. Kathi Cook on November 15, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Straight of course,but usually I use my eye as a guide and space the seeds or plants within the row using the handle of my spade as a measuring tool.It’s definitely not the most accurate method,but inevitably it is what I do every year. On occasion I have used the stake and string method as well.

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  3. Ann on November 15, 2012 at 8:48 am

    My DH and I are getting old enough now that we can not get down on the ground like we used to. So we are slowly converting our entire garden into raised beds. And I love them. I can sit on the sides to weed and thin. No one ever walks on them so we don’t have to till. It is easy to build covers to protect the beds from extreme heat, cold, chickens, rabbits and deer. It costs me about $100.00 to build a 3ft X 15ft bed to include the PVC frame I use to keep the covers up off the plants. But I have recouped that for each bed I have built within one growing season. Hopefully these raised beds will last many years as I used an eco friendly wood preservative to keep the wood from rotting.

    But within the beds, my rows are as crooked as they can get!! I have several ideas in mind for the future to help me make straighter rows but for now, I just wait until the plants grow a bit and fill in, then you can not see how crooked the rows are!!

    And don’t you just love everything from Johnny’s seed catalog? I am anxiously awaiting my 2013 as we speak.

    Reply to Ann's comment

    • KimH on November 15, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Im getting to that almost point myself. How wonderful it would be to have tall raised beds like that.. someday someday. ;)

      Reply to KimH's comment

  4. Melissa on November 15, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I love nice neat straight rows! However I find it’s hard to integrate a lot of the permaculture principles that I would like to with straight rows! They just don’t seem to fit into a neat and tidy garden– my inner gardening struggle! :)

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on November 15, 2012 at 9:56 am

      I know what you mean. I tend to keep my permaculture to the other beds and not so much in my vegetable beds.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. daisy on November 15, 2012 at 10:38 am

    What a cool tool! Do y’all prefer hand tools whenever possible? It seems to be a better way to connect to the Earth.
    I like neatness, even in the garden. Gotta stay organized! It’s in my blood.

    Reply to daisy's comment

    • Susy on November 15, 2012 at 10:49 am

      Yes, I don’t even own a tiller. I find that the soil stays much more workable and I have fewer weed problems if I don’t disturb the soil too much.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • annie on November 16, 2012 at 10:06 am

        So true!

        to annie's comment

  6. KimH on November 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I love your grandpas saying Sounds like a smart man. ;)

    I like straight & tidy but Im not anal about by any means.. I just drag my hoe along to make rows, or dig holes, or whatnot. I dont care that much, I guess.. I’ve always been a lazy, rebellious gardener and its always worked for me. I see no need to change now. ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

  7. judym on November 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I like straight rows but as with commenter Ann, we are at the age of not gettin’ on down! We have 5 raised beds (4×4) so far and are considering more vertical gardening in the future. Also raised beds on legs for some smaller veggies. Creaky joints aren’t fun but it does make you use your imagination!

    Reply to judym's comment

  8. kristin @ going country on November 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Ha. I love long, straight rows. What I plant, however, tends to be short, crooked rows. Short because the soil in our big garden varies a lot and so things get planted in small areas as they become workable in the spring. And crooked because . . . well, because apparently I can’t draw a straight line with my hoe. Drives the MiL nuts. She’ll spend the extra time to mark the row with sticks and a string to make it straight. I will not. So, crooked works for me.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  9. Ken Toney on November 15, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I like rows, but $80.00 for a rake? Yikes. I’m frugal. I use a stick and eyeball straight rows.

    Reply to Ken Toney's comment

    • Susy on November 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      I needed a rake since mine broke last year and I’ve learned to invest in good quality tools that will last forever. This will be the last garden rake I buy!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Deb on November 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Wow! I couldn’t afford an $80 rake either. I have raised beds and just eyeball. Doesn’t matter if rows are a bit crooked. Stuff will grow just fine. Sticks and string are the cheapest, both recycled for rows here. Sometimes you plant straight in rows and the seeds or plants tend to grow out of line anyway so I just save the time. Too many seeds/plants to put in.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  11. Stone soup on November 16, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Love the neat rows! Did you see the new Fedco catalogue came out? I know what I will be doing tonight! Dreaming and scheming of all those straight rows for next year!

    Reply to Stone soup's comment

  12. annie on November 16, 2012 at 10:08 am

    The older I get the more I like things neat. However, I plant very close in a grid (french intensive style) so it’s often hard to see the rows. Carrots and radishes I just broadcast.

    Reply to annie's comment

  13. Laura on November 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    i always try for straight rows, but it never seems to work out right. i love that rake though. i’m going to have to look into one of those!

    Reply to Laura's comment

  14. EL on November 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I guess I’m a minority of 1. While I have some straight rows (such as for leeks), I think that they’re a terrible waste of space. Generally the only things that are really straight are the peas and beans which are grown along the fence. Then lettuce seeds get scattered around the peas and chard around the beans. The leeks ended up being straight because I had to dig valleys for them, but I certainly tried to get some cilantro to grow between them because cilantro is so ephemeral (I thought it would all be gone by the time I used the soil to fill in around the leeks.

    I also plant flowers in among the veggies and veggies and herbs in with flowers. I think this attitude comes from growing natives and also thinking of vegetables as being decorative — What could be lovelier than a blooming squash plant. Many people spend tons of money looking for flower plants with big leaves to give a lush tropical look to their gardens — and they could just plant squash!!

    In the garden I have now there is also room for rows, but that hasn’t always been the case. My last place had about a 6′ square area in which to garden. I grew lettuce, bok choy, radicchio, peas, tomatoes, squash, and fennel in this area and got a lot out of it. You can’t do that with rows. I never have much of a problem with weeds in the vegetables. Weeds are more of a problem in the flower beds.

    I have some friends from India and the first time that they saw my vegetable garden, they laughed and said that my garden looked a lot like the gardens in India. It seems that they don’t plant in straight rows there either.

    Reply to EL's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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