Gardening Articles: Care :: Soil, Water, & Fertilizer
Raised Beds and Spacing for Peppers and Friends
by National Gardening Association Editors
If your garden is too wet, either in certain sections or all over, make raised beds for your plants.
Making the Raised Bed
Determine the width and length of the bed and walkways, using stakes for guidelines. Use a hoe to pull the soil from the walkways up onto the bed until there's a four- to eight-inch difference between the height of the bed and the height of the walkway.
After you've raised the soil and leveled off the bed, plant your transplants in the bed as you would in a conventional bed. The raised bed drains faster because excess water doesn't just sit there; it runs off. And having this water run off means your plants' roots will get the oxygen they need for good growth. An added bonus of raised beds is that they warm up faster in the spring and stay warmer all day long. This is a real help for plants such as peppers, eggplant and okra.
When you're ready to transplant peppers and eggplant, dig a hole six to eight inches deep for each plant. Space two holes 10 to 15 inches apart, then move down the row 10 to 15 inches and dig another hole in that row between the first two holes. The rows have a diamond pattern with 10 to 15 inches between each plant on all sides. You can get more produce from the space available by planting this way, but the peppers and eggplant are still far enough apart to develop good, thick foliage that protects the fruit and helps prevent sunscald. Pimiento peppers need a bit more growing room than bell peppers.
If you want to space your plants in single rows, set them one behind the other with 10 to 15 inches between the plants and about two feet between rows. Adjust the width of your rows depending on the way you cultivate your plants. If you cultivate with a hoe or other hand tool, your rows can be a bit closer together. One to two feet between them will allow plenty of room to move about. If you cultivate with a tiller, however, you'll have to leave more room between rows.
Okra is easily grown from seed started right in the garden. Just stake out the length of the row, then dig a shallow furrow with a hoe in the prepared seedbed. Drop a seed every three to four inches, then cover them all with 1/2 to one inch of soil. About 100 feet of row can be planted with one ounce of okra seed. After covering the seed, firm the soil with the back of the hoe, so the seed makes good contact with the soil. Once you've finished planting, water the soil if it's dry. This will firm the soil around the seeds and also prevent them suffering from dehydration. Don't water before planting because you don't want to pack the soil down.
When the new okra plants are three to four inches tall, thin them to their proper spacing - 12 to 15 inches between plants.