Planting In Furrows: Are There Benefits To Furrow Gardening

By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)

When it comes to design, planting a vegetable garden very much depends on the personal preferences of the grower. From containers to raised beds, finding the growing method that works best for your needs can be quite exciting.

While many homeowners choose to explore more intensive methods of producing vegetables, others may prefer more traditional growing techniques.

Furrow gardening is a method that produces a beautiful garden, as well as high yields.

What is a Furrow?

In gardening, a furrow refers to a long narrow trench. Thesetrenches can be used in a variety of ways, from planting to irrigation. Thefurrow method of planting is beneficial to growers in that it can make routinegarden care and maintenance much easier. This is especially true in the case oflarge-scale farm plantings.

Planting in furrows allows for more uniform rows. These rowsare able to be weeded and irrigated simply and without the concern of disturbinggrowing plants. Irrigation furrows have also been celebrated for their abilityto help maintain soil moisture and to improve water use during periods ofdrought.

How to Furrow a Garden

Furrow gardening is relatively simple. To begin the processof planting in furrows, growers will first need to select a well amendedgrowing site.

After selecting a location, use garden stakes and twine tomark long straight lines. Then, dig a trench along the length of the stringthat is roughly 2 inches (5 cm). deep. When planning the garden, be sure toaccount for appropriate spacing between each of the furrows depending upon whatcrops will be grown.

When the trench is finished, sow the seeds and space themaccording to the package instructions. Gently cover the seeds with soil asdirected. Carefully water the new planting until the seeds have germinated.

Though planting in furrows may not be the most efficient useof space in the garden, it will help to make its care easier. From pest controlto harvest, crops growing in straight rows can save time, as well as increasethe efficiency of the garden.

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Wide Row Planting for Beans

For years, many gardeners have planted their bush bean seeds in single-file, straight-line rows with lots of room between the rows. However, some gardeners consider this method a waste of valuable growing space and not the most productive way to grow beans.

Instead, these gardeners use a wide-row technique that allows them to double and sometimes even triple their bean crops. With this method, you simply spread seeds over a wide seedbed, instead of putting one seed behind another in a row. The wide area contains many more plants than a single row of the same length, so you can harvest much more from the same area.

A row 16 to 18 inches across - about the width of a rake head - is very easy to plant, care for and harvest. With a little wide-row experience, you may want to try even wider rows.

The advantages to wide-row growing are many.

  • You can grow two to four times as many beans in the same amount of space.
  • Weeding is reduced to a minimum. As the beans grow, their leaves group together and form a "living mulch," which blocks the sun, inhibiting weed growth.
  • Many gardeners spread mulch - organic matter such as hay, pine needles or leaves - around all their plants in the garden to fight weeds and retain moisture in the soil. Wide rows mulch themselves, so you only need to use small amounts of mulch to keep weeds down in the walkways and to help retain moisture. You'll also have fewer walkways using wide rows, so you really can save a lot of space, effort and mulch.
  • Moisture is conserved by the shade because the sun can't scorch the soil and dry it out as much. Moist soil stays cooler, so beans in very hot climates don't wither as much or stop producing as quickly.
  • The plants in the middle of the rows are protected from the full effects of hot, drying winds. They don't dry out rapidly like those in a single row. This can be especially important in water-short areas of the country.
  • Harvesting is easier with wide rows. You can pick much more without having to continually get up and move down the row. It's pleasant to take a stool into the garden, sit down and enjoy picking beans by the bushel.

How to Plant Wide-Row Bush BeansPrepare the soil. Using a steel garden rake, smooth out the seedbed. Be careful not to pack the seedbed down by stepping on it. Do all your work from the walkway beside the row. If the soil is dry, wait to water until after planting. If you water before, you pack the soil down.

Stake out a row 15 to 18 inches wide (or wider if you like) and whatever length you want. Drop the seeds three to four inches apart from each other in all directions in the row. One two-ounce package of snap beans covers roughly 10 feet of rake-width row. Firm the seeds into the soil with the back of a hoe, and cover the seeds with about an inch of soil. Using a rake, pull the soil from the side of the row and smooth it evenly over the seeds. Firm the soil again with the back of a hoe.

Leave a path or walkway wide enough to walk on once the plants have grown and spread out. You'll need at least 16 inches, and more if your cultivator or tiller is wider.

Remember, wide rows work well for all beans except the pole varieties.

Single row is another planting method to use. The best way to plant a single row is to make a shallow furrow with a hoe. Drop in a bean seed every three to four inches, cover the furrow with one inch of soil and then firm it. A two-ounce packet of bush snap bean seeds sows a single row 30 to 40 feet long.

Make two shallow furrows four to five inches apart, and plant in the same manner as for a single row. This arrangement is especially handy if you need to irrigate regularly. You can put a soaker hose - a kind of garden hose with tiny holes in it - between the two rows and water the plants quite efficiently.

Another easy irrigating system with the double-row system is to dig an additional shallow furrow in between the two seed rows. Make this channel when you're planting the beans. To water the beans, simply run water down the channel between the two rows of plants.

If you garden where it's very rainy, if your soil stays damp or if you have clay soil, planting in raised beds is a good idea because the soil drains better. Good drainage helps to prevent diseases and warms the soil more quickly early in the season.

Try to build up the seedbed four to six inches above the walkway. To get the most for your extra effort, plant a wide row or at least a double row to guarantee a plentiful harvest.

Transplant Ability of Common Vegetable Crops*

Easily Survives Transplanting¹ Sow or Transplant with Care² Sow seeds or transplants with strong root systems³
Arugula Chinese cabbage Lettuce Carrots Beans Peas
Beets Collard Peppers Celery Cantaloupes Pumpkin
Broccoli Eggplant Sweet potatoes Mustard Corn Radish
Brussels sprouts Endive/escarole Strawberries Potatoes (Irish) Cucumbers Squashes
Cabbage Kale Swiss chard Spinach Okra Turnips
Cauliflower Kohlrabi Tomatoes Onions Watermelon

*Transplant ability is the ability of a seedling to be successfully transplanted. 1: easily survives transplanting 2: survives transplanting with care 3: only plant seeds or containerized transplants with developed root systems. (Credit: Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide, Table 1)

Below are dos, don'ts, and troubleshooting steps for direct sowing in your garden.

How to Make Rows in a Vegetable Garden

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Row planting results in evenly spaced vegetable plants and a tidy bed. The space between rows gives the plants room to develop while also providing easy access paths to the center of the bed. Row spacing varies, but it needs to be wide enough so you can walk between the plants to weed and harvest. The length of the rows depends on the size of your garden. Laying out straight rows with planting furrows of the correct depth at the beginning ensures proper planting and even germination, plus a neater bed for the remainder of the growing season.

Smooth the soil surface with a rake so it's even and level. Remove any rocks or debris from the bed while smoothing it.

Place a stake at each end of the bed to indicate the length of each row. Space the rows apart at the distance required for the variety of plants you are growing. For example, wide rows typically require spacing of 12 to 18 inches.

Stretch a length of twine between each set of two stakes. The twine marks out a straight row.

Create a planting furrow in the soil following each length of twine. Draw the tip of the hoe handle down the row to create a shallow furrow for shallow-planted seeds, or use the corner of the hoe blade to create a deeper furrow for seeds that require deeper planting, such as squash or beans.

Draw the hoe blade between each furrow, creating a 4-inch-deep trench on each side of each furrow. The trench collects irrigation water so it seeps into the soil and directly into the root zone of the plants in each row.

Sow the seeds in the prepared furrows at the recommended spacing for the plant variety, which is available on the back of the seed packets. Cover the seeds with soil and remove the twine and stakes. Water the bed thoroughly after planting.

Furrow Irrigation for Vegetable Garden - The farmers can irrigate their vegetable garden by several different methods. One of them is furrow irrigation method, primarily watering techniques for vegetable gardens. Furrows are most useful when water is let into each furrow from one end, until to the soil. Furrows are shallow trenches between raised beds that channel water to plant roots. The leaf diseases are avoided because the leaves don’t get wet. Leaves and fruit of erect plants will stay dry during furrow irrigation. This watering makes an attractive method for plants that are particularly susceptible, such as squash or peas, beans and peppers.

This watering method is based on an old farming technique of planting on narrow raised mounds or beds and then using furrows to water. The beds can be 1 to 3 feet apart — the wider apart they are, the more water you use.
Furrows are easiest to manage in soil with a slow infiltration rate. When you’re ready to water, You can slow down the infiltration rate by running enough water in the furrows to get them wet all the way to the end, fill another furrow completely with water, wait a while, and then poke around with your finger to make sure the water has penetrated the bed. Come back later and fill the furrow for irrigation. When the soil in the furrow gets wet and then drains, the soil surface seals so later water soaks in more slowly, making it easier to get water to the end of the furrow and allowing it to soak in evenly all along its length.

Successful furrow irrigation requires soil with enough clay so that water flows along shallow ditches between the rows and sinks in slowly. The water must reach the low end of the rows before much has soaked in at the high end. Many sandy or open soils are so porous that water seeps in too quickly, never reaching the end of the row. To solve this problem, use short rows in gardens with sandy soil to slow the force of the water.

Most gardens can be irrigated easily with the furrow method by using a hoe or shovel to make shallow ditches. To test furrow irrigation, make one shallow ditch from end to end and run water down it. If the water runs 20 to 30 feet in a few minutes, that’s fine. If the water sinks in too fast at the high end, divide the garden lengthwise into two or more runs and irrigate each run separately. Make a serpentine ditch to guide the water up and down short rows in small gardens on level ground. The number of rows which can be irrigated at the same time depends on the volume of water available and your ingenuity.

New seedlings are planted into a shallow groove along the ridge top and they can be watered by running water as often as needed to keep the seedbed moist until they are large enough. The surface soil of a raised bed does not pack as with sprinkler irrigation, so there is less crusting. Only a hoe or shovel and a length of hose are needed to get the water from the house faucet to the garden.

Watch the video: Garden Beds

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