Do have have to follow the directions on the back of my seed packet?

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Though the advice on the back of a seed packet gives some great information, they are recommendations and their advice may not exactly apply to your garden.

First is row spacing, many times you read something like “plant seeds 3 inches apart in rows 1 foot apart”  This brings up some immediate logic of why can the plants be 3 inches apart one way but 12 inches in another.  This sort of thinking the premise for intensive gardening techniques such as square foot gardening.  This is where instead of growing your plants in rows you plant them in a grid pattern making best use of your growing space.

Now even these spacing requirements are actually optional.  All plants compete for resources to survive.  This can be sunlight (or even shade from sunlight), nutrients, water, airflow, etc.  Depending on the quality of your soil and frequency of watering you can push the limits of your growing space.  Assuming you add some fresh compost easy season and possibly do some side dressing with an organic fertilizer like fish emulsion or alfalfa pellets you can easily reduce this space and still have high yields.  I did just that with my cherry tomato plants whose seed packet is above.  I planted these about a foot apart and got great growth and yields.

One other factor is how you grow.  If I was growing my tomatoes in cages my foot space probably wouldn’t even be technically possible but since I grew them on a netting this allowed for spread out much more naturally and provide adequate sunlight and airflow.  Keep this in mind when growing sprawling plants such as cucumbers and squash using some vertical space can free up the valuable growing space on the ground.

The last factor depends on when you are going to pick them.  If you are growing onions to simply pick as green onions you don’t have to give then the 3-4 inches needed for their bulbs to grow.  You could easily plant an inch apart since you are going to pick them before they are competing for resources.  A similar idea is growing for micro greens, plant picked when just a few inches tall.

Though I wouldn’t say to completely ignore the back of your seed packets, just make sure to use it as a guide not a requirement.

8 Responses to “Do have have to follow the directions on the back of my seed packet?”

  1. Matron Says:

    The trouble with experimenting on the allotment is that if you make a mistake you have to wait a whole year and try to remember not to do it that way next year. On the whole I don't read seed packets and do my own thing anyway!


  2. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Matron, experimentation is what makes the difference between being good and great. Though I do agree a bad experiment can give you mediocre results for one season, though a good one can give great results for decades. One suggestion if trying something extreme, keep it small and don't supersize it until you have proven success.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    growing tomatos on a net?? Can you post a picture or link describing such a thing. I can't imagine it! Thanks


  4. Ragnar Says:

    Opera warns me about that page/link?


  5. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Ok trying again (not sure how I messed up the link.Here is something similar ro what I am using.http://www.gardeners.com/Plant-Support-Netting/VegetableGardening_Supports,34-974,default,cp.html


  6. Carroll Says:

    Many thanks for the info. I will try that way next year as I was disappointed with their growth this year. May have been owing to a lack of sun though. Cheers.


  7. m.scott Says:

    The only thing I kind of trust seed packets to tell me is the spacing between plants, that's about it. Because my zone is warmer than most the date to plant is always wrong, and I have to figure alot of things out on my own.Good post 🙂


  8. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    m.scott, I can't agree more. When doing my scan I was looking for one with the neat little map of the United States on it which is impossible for me to figure out which sliver of color I actually am in. Overall last frost date is good to go by, but I have an long winded post on how unreliable those numbers can be,


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