Spacing out

“Do you think we bought too many plants?” I asked Steve as we drove away from Paul’s Discount. The shadows stretched long down the street as we headed east toward our house.

“No,” Steve said. “I don’t think peppers need that much space. The tomatoes are really the problem. They need room for their roots to go deep.”

I accepted Steve’s evaluation at face value. In the meantime, my blood sugar was dropping fast. Our trip to Maggie and Heal’s and then to Paul’s had taken long enough that we were now cutting into dinnertime, and I’m tart as rhubarb when I’m hungry.

“Why don’t you let me get started on this stuff while you get something to eat,” Steve said as we neared our house. “I’ll get the car unloaded and start mapping everything out, and we can go from there.”

But when we got home, against Steve’s protestations, I helped haul the 40-pound bags of peat and topsoil right along with him. I’m all for chivalry, but it wasn’t fair to skip out on the hauling.

After all the supplies were in the back yard, I went in the house to start reheating leftovers. The light continued to seep out of the sky, and I was afraid if we didn’t eat quickly, we’d lose our opportunity to get some of our seedlings out of their pots and into the ground.

When the food was ready, I called out to Steve, who was sitting on the back porch next to the seedlings, drawing out a diagram on a piece of scrap paper. He rose slowly and brought the paper inside.

“I think we’ve got a problem,” he said. “I think we seriously overbought.”

I kept moving plastic containers from the microwave to the kitchen table.

He put the diagram down on the table and pointed out distances with an index finger. “The tags on the peppers say they need to be 18 to 24 inches apart. The tomatoes have to be at least two feet apart. The zucchini and cucumber both say they need up to five feet of space. This doesn’t even count the eggplant.”

“So what are you saying?”

“I’m saying that, based on the space each of these need, we’re going to have to put in a plot that’s 20 feet by 4 or 5 feet.”

Suddenly, it appeared we didn’t have time to eat.

“That’s 80 to 100 square feet,” I said. “That’s huge.”

Steve nodded. “We’d better start digging.”

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2 Responses to “Spacing out”


  1. 1 Carma May 17, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    Space. Oh, that’s in the instructions in the fine print on the back of the vegetable package, right? The last time I planted a vegetable, I didn’t have the required 14 to 18 inches or two feet so I improvised.

    Everything came up beautifully, nice and bushy and full. However, harvesting was difficult. So. I relate fully to your predicatment. Dig away and plant by the light of the full moon. An old farmer’s strategy.

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener May 17, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    That’s good to know, Carma! Difficult harvests I can handle…my fear is just that we end up with nothing to pick at the end of the day. But we’ll see…

    :-) Genie


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