Garden-Furrowed rows or plant flat?

   / Garden-Furrowed rows or plant flat? #1  


Platinum Member
Nov 12, 2020
Pageland, SC
BX 1880 with FEL and canopy
My wife and I planted our first garden this year. We made some mistakes and there are things I'll do different, but by and large it was a great success. The size was about 20x35 and I'll probably do about the same size next year.

I'm starting to think about plans for next year's garden, and what I'll do differently now that I have a tractor. This year I borrowed a tractor and a tiller, spread a few inches of compost over the garden and tilled it in. I planted everything in flat rows, and this did seem to be fairly successful.

I'm wondering if I need to hill my rows up into furrows this coming year, or stick to flat. I don't have a problem with standing water in the garden, in fact we usually have drought. The native soil is mostly sand and drains very well. I ran soaker hose down each row on a timer so the lack of rainfall was really a non-issue. Just thought I'd mention it.

I'm guessing a raised row would potentially lead to the plants drying out, but aside from that I wondered if I build raised rows, if I can put mulch between the rows in the valleys between to help cut down on weeds. I had zero weeds while we had drought, because the only water to sustain life was where my soaker hose was running. We had a rainy spell toward the end of summer though, and my weeds exploded and I couldn't stay on top of them. I realized my rows were too close together, plants too crowded, I couldn't do much to get on top of the weeds without damaging plants. And they were just too much and too thick to accomplish much by hand.

I figure I'll probably put down a weed barrier this year also. I did not this past year.
   / Garden-Furrowed rows or plant flat? #2  
Potatoes are nearly always planted in hills, so when harvesting you can scoop them out of soft ground. Squash of all types is usually planted in hills, so the plentiful leaves can drape over the hills, saving space. Hilled squash is also easier to check for squash borers.

There are an enormous number of tractor implements for cultivating plants. You can cultivate mechanically or use organic mulch. I used large size pine bark, when I had a vegetable garden, before I had my first tractor. As weeds sprout through mulch, mulch is only a partial solution.

On a BX a Ratchet Rake bucket attachment may suffice for 'tween rows cultivation.


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I'm guessing a raised row would potentially lead to the plants drying out.

Put your compost or other organic material as the ground layer under your beds.

I have to ask: Have you had your garden soil tested? A <$10 soil test is the best money you can spend in a garden. In my case soil test showed natural potash to be well above average and ample for everything. Therefore the fertilizer I use is 15-0-15 in 1/3 reduced quantity relative to former choice 10-10-10. Same price per 50 pound bag. The potential for 10-10-10 to increase/accumulate potash to actually deleterious levels was there. I also needed trace amounts of boron. Have your soil tested.

The Garden Series is a line of field equipment scaled for hobby farms or personal gardening. Such growers tend to have plots of less than one acre, may already have a small tractor for landscaping or homestead chores or may be realizing they are planting more than they can take care of by hand.

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   / Garden-Furrowed rows or plant flat? #3  
Potatoes gotta be hilled as they grow ---I make hills 18" to 24" high and 24" to 36" wide here for spuds! Bigger mounds make more and bigger spuds for us. This may not work for everyone so you have to "try and see" what works for you!
Everything else gets planted on flat ground then cultivated.
   / Garden-Furrowed rows or plant flat? #4  
I also plant potatoes in hills, onions too. Potatoes are planted 5' O.C, because of a tractor drawn mechanical planter, and digger, and need that much space between rows. The planter makes a slight furrow, then covers them. Hilling is done with disc hillers once they come through the ground. Onions are planted in a hill row from the start. I make that row with a garden tractor,and disc. Disc is set to through dirt towards the center, until I get an approx. 10" hill. Flatten off the top with a rake, then set onions 4" O.C. Once they start growing, I basically shave the sides of the hill rows, pulling dirt up around the onions as they mature. They will push themselves on top of the ridge whn they are mature, making them easy to harvest. Onions don't require much moisture, and being the hill dry's out pretty quick, it's less likely for weeds to grow too, or at leastasfast, as on flat ground.

Everything else direct planted, beans, etc. is pretty much in 30" rows. Tomatoes are in 6' O.C. rows, with 30" spacing to make harvesting easier. They are caged, then a Florida weave around cages, with T-Posts every 5-6 plants.

To make life easier, I cultivate the tomatoes until they reach 12", or so tall, then mulch with leaves 5"-6" deep. I gather leaves from my neighbors, or they bring them to me. One neighbor has a lawn service, that does leaf pickup,and he also brings me some. If you know someone close who provides that service, you may want to contact them, and see if they will bring you some.It may save them driving miles, to dispose them at a compost facility. I also use them around my pepper plants.

Leaves are great food for red worms, and night crawlers that feed on the leaves. The great benefit from that is the worm castings left, which is the best natural fertilizer ever. Though the summer,and over the winter the leaves willbreak downinto a finer compost, which can be worked in the following Spring, and add organic matter. Can't help but think with every time it rains, also makes a natural compost tea, adding healthy microbes to the soil.

I use a 2-wheel garden tractor to cultivate here, simply for the fact I have a clay/loam soil. Constant tilling ruins the soil structure, which forms a hard crust after a decent rain. With your sandy soil, that may not be a problem.

It would bean idea to get a soil sample, send it in, and get an idea of what your soil needs in amendments. Contact your local County Extension Office/Agent, they shouldbeable to assist on that. Soil tests are $8.50 here, and takes about 10 days to get the results back. Here, our Extension Agent is more than happy to go over the report, and make suggestions. Your tax dollars pay for providing this service, may as well get some benefit from it.

I realize most of us seasoned gardeners grow larger plots, and may use larger equipment, but nearly everyone still use's a few hand tools. I'm going to stick my neck out here, and suggest a "Made in U.S.A. tool", made in California. There are many out there similar to it, but this one tops them hands down. An oscillating hoe made by Corona Tools. A bit pricey, but is definitely a quality tool. I've had a 4" for 5-6 years now, and have used it a lot. It shows very little, if any wear. Last year, they offered free shipping in the Continental US, so got a4" for a friend, and a new 5" for myself. Sure wish I had one of thesewhan I was a kid..!! This is the one/style you want, either the 4", or 5". Oscillating Hoe - 4 in I'm not sure how updated their site is, but see they are still offering free shipping. One would make a great early Christmas present, LOL...
   / Garden-Furrowed rows or plant flat? #5  
The short answer is that it depends on the crop you are growing. Your county extension agent can help with what does best where you live.
   / Garden-Furrowed rows or plant flat? #6  
On a garden that small I'd stay with hand tools. Plant everything flat to start with, then hill the potatoes as they grow. Just a plain old hoe is your best friend for weeding and hilling. Actually I have three styles of hoes...but use the plain old 5 inch hoe the most. the Scuffle hoe is handy sometimes, as is the pointed tip hoe for fine and close weed picking. On a small garden, one can plant things closer together per the directions on the seed package.

Once one gets into mechanized gardening, the expense and complications really multiply. Hoeing is good for the soul and a quiet operation........with the wife at it also, you will enjoy your time together.